Monday, January 21, 2013

Hitchhiking To The Dance With My Gun

Last time, I talked a bit about my high school and how different I thought it was than the "average" high school experience people of my age. There's a few more things that are unique about my experience that I think are kind of interesting.

For instance, there's probably not too many people that hitchhiked to high school. Yeah, well I got that privilege. There were a number of us who hitchhiked up Hamline Avenue to get to school. Most often, there was a parent of another Cretin student who would pick kids up one at a time, like dropped change. It wasn't always the same parent, but we had our regulars. Mine was Mrs. Martin, who took her son Bob and I to school almost daily. If she didn't make it though, some other kind soul did.

I look back on it as kind of a weird occurrence, actually. I guess it was a different (read: safer) time, but there was still a lot of potential for things to go wrong. (This fear I have of getting in a vehicle only to find that there's no door handle and the window can't be rolled down.) Back then hitchhiking was taken for granted, and far more commonplace than it is today. We were always told by teachers that if people saw Cretin cadets htichhiking in their uniform they were more likely to pick them up, because they were good kids. (We had them fooled.) I don't know if this helped or not, but I guess I would be more inclined to pick up a teen dressed in a military uniform than one with jeans and long hair.

The minutes spent in those cars with strangers were sometimes good, sometimes awkward, and never terrible. Usually you spent time talking about the weather or sports, just small talk for 10 minutes and then you'd get dropped off. It's telling that I can't remember a one of them to this day. Well, strike that. I do remember being picked up by a couple of older students who were smoking pot on their way in. I was a good kid, so declined their offer and frankly was a bit shell-shocked by the whole ordeal. I feared that I'd smell like it for the rest of the day. I couldn't imagine starting off a day of high school being high like that, but these guys had it down, somehow. To each his own. Thanks for the ride, dudes.

Another unique thing about our school was because we were all-boy and just across the field from the all-girl, we had a few "arranged dances." What those were were basically a lottery where you got set up with a girl from either Regina High School in Minneapolis, or Derham Hall. It was a total craps hoot based strictly on height, as I recall. I went to a couple of dances that way and, well, let's just say one worked out good, and the other was a disaster. (Just like real life blind dates!). I'm not sure who thought that height is a great indicator of compatibility, but it would have been nice to have a few more criteria. I think I can back up my cynicism by saying that my wife of 22 years is 5'2".

Another weird thing was we had to take rifle range in military class. Shooting WWII vintage .22 gauge rifles that weighed in at what seemed like 50 lbs. It's a wonder I didn't shoot my foot off. I was a lousy shot. I flinched at the sound of my own and other rifles going off around me. It was not my sport of choice. Unlike my brother who was a Marksman and had a few medals to prove it, I was told that I would probably have a desk job if we were to go to war. (And I'm OK with that.)

Overall my high school years were okay. I have many fond memories and made a few lifelong friends there. It was a good school academically and spiritually. I do feel like it could have been better in a co-ed setting, but as I said before, it seems like they figured that out. I imagine it's a pretty good school now. (Likely at the cost of a University.) I'm just glad to not have to go through it all again.

Blogging off...

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