High School Confession Part II

High School did not have to be a cesspool. It was a mistake my parents had made by moving us from a university town, where I fit in somewhat, to a suburb where most of the kids were Whiskey Tango. Some of them were jocks.  In other words, it was Dumb Fuck USA. Then there were the Jewish kids. They weren’t nice to me, because I wasn’t Jewish (then, since I actually converted later), but they comprised the only smart student body there.  But even though we had classes together, like AP English, I was not one of them, and they were not going to talk to me either.  Some of them were so cruel to me, I couldn’t understand it. But so were the non-Jewish kids too, at times. I was physically attractive (although I did not think so, but I knew I didn’t have a physical defect, other than wild hair), deep down, I mistakenly attributed it to my own social deficits, rather than to the environment.

js-freshman-cheerleader.jpgIt wasn’t all my fault that I didn’t fit into this school. My parents were not from this background themselves. My father was an attorney, and he had gone to one of the best public high schools in the US where they made you study Latin,  then law school at one of the finest public universities.  He had almost no books in the house but you can see where I’m going with this. They were WASPS, a middle upper middle class income and upward aspirations.My mother was getting a PhD. She had something of a background, too: Her mother also gone to college (in the 1930s, very rare), and her mother, too (attended college, around 1910, then part of literary society).My father’s grandmother had also gone to college (in the 1900s–and graduate school, in the 1900s or 1910s.). All of this was highly unusual for any family. I was brought up to be very polite, and because I was afraid of my father, I was quiet, gentle, girlish, well spoken, and diffident.  These qualities though were not going to play well in this town. They were not qualities that marked you for survival of the fittest.

This was not to say that my parents were exotic or interesting, even though they were educated. They were conventional without any signs of eccentricity.  They were not intellectuals. Far from it. My father read airport thrillers. He was not intellectual material and neither was my mother. This also made me confused sometimes, because it was difficult to understand how people with such relatives and experiences could end up this way. We had eccentric relatives though.

Stained glass artists, newspaper reporters, Hollywood make up artists, NASA rocket scientists, eccentric meteorologists and CIA operatives. Those were some of our relatives. Sometimes I felt like I had not only been accidentally dumped in the wrong town but that I was also an orphan. Somehow I did not feel, even as a child, like I belonged where I was. Many people say this, but this was not just a matter of looks or interests. I was fundamentally different from them. I understood later, on a mystical level, why. At the time it was just mass confusion. I was a kid, I understood little of why things were the way they were, but I accepted it, understood that you just had to live in that sort of haze, because my parents never would have had those discussions or answered my questions. The only other choice was running away and I was already wise, thanks to a made for TV movie about teenage runaway prostitutes, that that was how you would probably end up.

There was no hope, I realized, after my parents moved us to that house. We lived here. It was my bad luck and it was not going to work. My parents had failed to notice that they had moved us to a place where we were uncommon in our surroundings which would be a good indicator that I would not fit into the schools. I was some kind of an artist. This was probably clear from the only time I remembered being punished: drawing with marker on my bedspread. The other portent was a ventriloquist dummy I had in the attic. I was disappointed by him because he didn’t have moving blinkers so I left him alone. But these were the things I liked as a child, drawing and magic, theater and ventriloquism. They might as well have dumped me in the Sinai desert.

 

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About kinneret

Hello, and welcome. I'm writing this blog under an alias. Why an alias? I started to write what may be described as an "American Gothic" novel (sort of Henry James/ Franz Kafka with violence) with some autobiographical details. ..when I started this blog I just decided to use the alias. This blog is about art and art history, but my interests also include literature, film analysis, psychology, forensic psychology, faerie tale analysis, cognitive therapy, cognitive linguistics, classical theater, World War II, and Russian and British history. My favorite writers include Kafka, the Brontes, and Philip K Dick. Thank you for reading this blog and I will happily reply to any comments.
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11 Responses to High School Confession Part II

  1. marblenecltr says:

    You have opened a huge door to a major and universal problem of humanity. I am thinking about it. Half joking, how about a blog that serves as a private encounter group with appropriately enormous membership fees? Your youth is an example of the conflicts of individuals and groups of all kinds, even to nations.
    Just a thought, perhaps unacceptable to you: what if you were to attend a class reunion (but with no desire for retribution.) Classmates may not remember their abuse, or, at least, wish you had forgotten it, and they may now enjoy your company as you talk about mutual problems such as parenthood. Sensitivities caused by differences in present and past ways of life should be carefully handled. Don’t complain about the valet parkers who take the keys of your Maybach on your frequent shopping trips to Fifth Avenue, Tiffany, Bergdorf, wherever you hang out. I have to stop this stream of consciousness, ok, I am better now.
    Your confessions are provoking much thought. I hope that I can come up with a contribution.

    • kinneret says:

      Thank you. I wrote about this topic because this year is another one of those anniversaries. I have never gone to one because it is far away (I live out of state), and I just don’t think they would remember their abuses. I don’t even know how many of them would remember me at all. Maybe vaguely, and then, not their abuses.

      • marblenecltr says:

        If you go, best wishes, you will have my prayers. May your attendance be pleasant with much laughter, but not at you, need I add. Enjoy the chicken dinner and don’t complain about the poor vintage and improper temperature of your Chablis.

      • kinneret says:

        Thanks, no, not going. When I see pictures of these people, even as adults, I feel nothing but the desire to rip up the image.

  2. marblenecltr says:

    Ok, you are not going. I await their appearance in an American Gothic novel some day, a work that may actually be written very easily.

  3. Difficult experiences in high school (and middle school) are obviously common. It’s a difficult age even without bullying. I was bullied some, too, but I recently had a chance to meet someone who had given me problems in the past. He was very glad to see me, and we later spoke for an hour over the phone. He had raised the possibility of us sharing a meal together when I came back to town. Unfortunately, he died four months later from liver cancer. In retrospect. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to make a friend and to vanquish old ghosts. I have been to a reunion, and I was delighted to see that we have all outgrown our awkwardness and insensitivity. It helps me to remember that I also “dished it out” and that I went to school with some people with exceptional character that showed through our flaws. Thank you for this post. It was a good reminder. Take care.

  4. marblenecltr says:

    We once lived in an expensive town with a school system with excellent academics. One of my daughters saw a classmate knifed to death, and the other had a classmate who committed suicide at thirteen as the result of general long term bullying. The teachers knew about ithe problem and did nothing until very late, too late. When one pays a school to care for one’s child and turns the child over for instruction and protection and that result takes place, outrage is due.

  5. The four elements (tradition) of earth, water, fire and air are four walls that imprison us, you are artist so at least you find freedom in the boundless universe of your imagination. Excellent piece

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