Another pointless meme

Phil Ford

. . . this time courtesy of Terminal: "Fill this out about your SENIOR year of high school. REPOST with the name of high school and graduating year in the subject box." I'll call this post whatever I damn well please, but for whatever reason I feel like thinking about high school, which is something that very, very rarely happens.

I should explain up front that I didn't exactly have a senior year in high school. In Canada at that time you could take four or five years of high school — four years (to grade 12) for a general school-leaving certificate and five (to grade 13) if you planned to go to college. My parents separated just before my grade 12 year and I moved from Sudbury to Toronto. You can imagine how much fun that was. I was desperate to get out of high school and I discovered that some American schools (including Indiana University School of Music, where I eventually went as an undergrad piano student) would actually accept an Ontario grade 12 education as equivalent to an American senior year. So I kind of weaseled out of my last year of high school, meaning that the piquant last-year-of-high-school experiences this meme is doubtless intended to celebrate are things I've only ever experienced in movies. Leaving high school didn't feel like a bittersweet curve in the road to adulthood, it felt like a jailbreak. For years afterwards I had occasional bad dreams that someone in the registrar's office would discover I hadn't really graduated from high school and would send me back there.

1. Did you date someone from your school? Nope. Except for a girl I dated (kind of) in grade 10, I didn't have anything resembling a love life until college.

2. Did you marry someone from your high school? Hell no. 

3. Did you car pool to school? No, I biked or walked. 

4. What kind of car did you have? My Mom got rid of our car when we moved to Toronto — we lived in the Bloor West Village right in the center of town, and having a car was pointless (the transit system is good). I actually never learned to drive until my son was born (I was 30). 

5. What kind of car do you have now? A Subaru, just like Terminal and half the people in Bloomington. When did the Subaru become the new Volvo?

6. It's Friday night — where are you? (then) Practicing, probably. In earlier years I would have been in the freezing backseat of my Mom's Chevy Citation, making the five-hour drive up to Toronto to take a piano lesson at the Royal Conservatory. But on a Friday night in grade 12 I might have gone off to the Bloor Street theater, a rep movie house where I learned to love weird movies. Or I might have been hanging out with my friend Mike and listening to music. Sorry, I was a pretty boring kid. 

7. It's Friday night — where are you? (now) Reading or something. I'm still boring. 

8. What kind of job did you have in high school? I didn't have a job, I practiced.

9. What kind of job do you have now? Musicologist, but you already knew that.

10. Were you a party animal? Nope. In Sudbury a lot of kids drank enormously (less so in Toronto, for whatever reason), but I stayed away from that scene. I didn't like being around drunk people, and I still don't. I went through my obligatory "party animal" phase in the summer between the end of school and my freshman year of college, when I was at Orford and decided to become a new, less boring person. I continued in this vein for a while at Indiana until I realized that I was still boring, only now with hangovers.

11. Were you ever considered a flirt? Doubt it.

12. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? Once I had figured out my escape plan from high school I set about taking the most undemanding schedule of classes I could and still graduate. So I ditched math* and took choir, where we sang a lot of Burt Bacharach arrangements, as I recall. 

13. Were you a nerd? What do you think?

14. Did you get expelled or suspended? Of course not. "Do your time and go," the motto of many a wise old con, was my own guiding principle.

15. Can you sing the fight song? I don't even know if we had one.

16. Who was your favorite teacher? My piano teacher, Marietta Orlov, though I suppose that doesn't count. I liked my Italian teacher, who was a crazy loud Calabrian lady who liked me because I was the only mungy-kek** who wanted to learn Italian. Since all the kids in this class (which was also my homeroom) were also from Italian families and spoke Italian constantly, I could actually speak Italian pretty well by the end of the school year — probably the only real thing I learned that year, though my knowledge of the language has decayed badly from disuse. 

17. Where did you sit for lunch? In my living room, or Mike's house, or Pizza Pizza, or that cafe with the foosball table. 

18. What was you high school's full name? Harbord Collegiate Institute.  

19. When did you graduate? 1987

20. What was you school mascot? A tiger, though I had to look that up.

21. If you could go back and do it again, would you? If you mean, would I do anything different, then no. Well, I'd probably have worn better clothes and gotten a haircut. But if you mean, would I go back in time to experience it all over again? No.

22. Did you have fun at the prom? Didn't go.

23. Do you still talk to the person you went to the prom with? N/A

24. Are you planning on going to your next reunion? No — I've never been to any reunion of any place I've gone to school. Neither for that matter have I ever attended any graduation ceremony, not even for my Ph.D.

25. Do you still talk to people from your high school? A couple.  

Looking back over this post, it looks as if I'm burnishing some kind of emo-kid my-life-was-tragic legend about my high school experience, but really it wasn't all that bad. I didn't like having to move for my last year of high school because I had a lot of really good friends in Sudbury (grades 10 and 11 at Lockerby High in Sudbury were fun) but it was a good thing, really, because it gave me motivation to finish early and get on with my life. High school wasn't bad, but it was only the prehistory to what I think of as the Era of Modern Phil.  

* Yes, math. I am so bad at math I suspect I am mentally disabled in some way — actually, I was put in a learning-disabled group when I was a little kid, which in Sudbury in the 1970s involved leaching and exorcisms. 

**"cake-eater," i.e. WASP

About Phil Ford

Chairman of the Committee for the Memorial to the Victims of Modernism
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1 Response to Another pointless meme

  1. David Cavlovic says:

    GAWD Mine is so similar to yours! Except, I went to Lawrence Park and graduated in 82, and did my Mus. Bac. at U of T (oh, and my parents are still married).

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