Thursday, January 24, 2008

How much do people really change?

It was 41 years ago this month that we started the second semester of our senior year at Woodson.

Some of us were excited about our basketball team, the year after the Cavaliers made it to the state quarterfinals. Others were rehearsing for "Extrazaganza" or getting ready to try out for "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

Those of us in the band were preparing for competition, learning the extremely difficult "Overture Candide." And once a week at lunch time, I was getting together with nine other guys to practice for the appearance three of us would make on "It's Academic."

I don't remember very many of those nine. I know Roger Pasternak and Ray Redd were the other two guys who actually went on the show, and Thom Smith was our alternate. I know my good friend Gary Oleson was one of the other six, but that's all I can remember.

It was an interesting year. I remember nearly every night before going to bed, listening to WBZ out of Boston, WKBW out of Buffalo, CKLW out of Windsor, Ontario, or WCFL ("The Voice of Labor") out of Chicago for my nightly rock 'n' roll fix.

There weren't any girls in my life that year. My long-time friend Tracy Antley had transferred away, and mostly what I remember about that year was the unbridled teenage lust I felt for my French teacher.

Of course there were the lovely majorettes I saw twice a day in the band room -- Rande Barker, Joan Ansheles, Donna Fenerty and the others, including Karen Theurer, who might actually be the most beautiful girl I've ever seen except for maybe Jane Seymour.

But lately I find myself wondering:

What if we did it all again? What if some cosmic twist of fate put those of us who are still around into the halls of Woodson in September 2016 for one year as real seniors?

We proably wouldn't have much of a football team, that's for sure. Bones are far too brittle at our age, and most of us probably don't run all that fast anymore.

But I wonder if a lot of the kids who were too shy ever to say boo when we were young might not be the outspoken leaders. Late bloomers, you know.

Would Mike McCuddin still be the class president?

Would Bob Douthitt still run the student government?

Or would both of them have gone on to other, more satisfying ways to spend their time?

I guess the real question is how much have we changed.

I certainly hope we'd be more tolerant -- and I think we would -- toward the ones who were sort of outcasts in 1967.

After all, we have grown up.


Anonymous said...

maybe you are the outcast now...

i remember the collegiates vs the greasers and all those in between.
it sucked then and it sucks now.

welcome to the age of aquarius.

just nan.

Mike Rappaport said...

I was sort of an outcast then, Nan.

Anonymous said...

maybe we all FELT like oddballs, then.
i had my horse and a few friends i liked to go riding with.
i vaguely remember you.
mostly, i remember how little time we had to get to our next class.
and then, our classes usually only had a few people i would know? from my other classes.
sorry, if i mis-read your words.
i guess i need to learn to understand how we each try to reach out.


Sean said...

Some of us found our voices long after high school. It would be fun to see what it would be like today, how experiences shaped those voices. I agree that the quieter ones may not be as quiet today.

Funny story(in a long line of embarrassing stories) that involved Karen Theurer, Mike.

I agree with you that she was drop-dead pretty. And she was best friends with another pretty girl, Janet Thornton. Both lived up the street from me in Kings Park.

I borrowed Bob Coulter's Honda Super 90 one summer evening and asked Karen to come with me for a ride. Bob Fern had asked Janet Thorntonto ride with him. We were at a neighborhood pool party when all this came together.

We were not a mile away from Kings Park when we were pulled over by the police. Apparently someone was assaulted at the pool, and the police thought we were involved. We were not, but the police though for certain that they had arrested the right people.

They put Karen and I in one cruiser, and Bob and Janet in another. Back we went to the pool.

As we were sitting inside their parked cruiser children were coming up to the window, pointing fingers and commenting that the police had gotten their man.

I recall Karen thought this was exciting as can be, but I was sweating bullets. Among other things, I had forgotten to take the key out of the ignition of that Honda. It was parked on the street, outside of the development, and I was wondering what my good pal Bob Coulter would think of lending me his motorcycle and it was gone when I returned.

It took about 20 minutes to get the story turned around. After the assault, involving guys on motorcycles, we just happened to be leaving around the same time and witnesses described the last motorcyle they saw, which just happened to be the four of us.

The police took us back to the motorcycle. Luckily both were still there. The police laughingly told us the ride was on them.

We road through Burke and West Spriingfield, and had a great time, with one exception.

The Honda engine was started using a kick start. Unfortunately the kick start had fallen off. When I stalled out an an intersection, I had to ask Karen to get off. I had to run the bike across the intersection and jump start it, then ask Karen to jump back on. She was a good sport about it all.

I only saw Karen once after we graduated, at a reunion. It may have been the 20th. She still had that smile that just lit up her face.

To Nan's comments about feeling like oddballs, I can't say I felt that way. I can say that I hoped to " fit in " and that caused me some problems but they were always of my doings.

I never felt like an outcast either. Awkward, sure. Not very confident, true enough. Not wishing to attract too much attention, that is certain. Sort of living under the radar, enjoying things as they came along, with absolutely no big picture in mind or clear idea of what was coming next.

I guess that's who you are when you are 17-18yrs old. It takes so long to get a better sense of what you want, what you can give, and who you would like to be as you get older.