“High” School and absent friends


Took me a little walk down memory lane this morning. Cat woke me up real early, again, and I decided to stay up rather than stare at the ceiling.

It came to me that I don’t really want to adult today of all days. Gonna have to a little, as I have things to write, but that gave me several hours to screw around in. I hatched a plan.

Went across the street and got a 2-liter diet 7-Up and a pack of rolling papers. Came back, poured the 7-Up into a pitcher, turned the bottle into a bong in the time-honored fashion (of course I have an old bongshaft in my toolbox — who doesn’t?). Ground up a goodly amount of herb, rolled two joints, and then rolled two more.

I dug out my old ear buds, charged up an old TracFone, outfitted it with a playlist. Found a short-sleeved shirt that fit me (was my style in those days to wear a short-sleeve over a band shirt), collected my quarters, stuck my oxygen tank in my backpack. Headed out. To high school…

THSHCKWVRD1976First stop was Church’s chicken. I sat on a curbstone and smoked the first joint, remembering when I used to do that in the parking lot of KFC, at 75th and Clarendon Hills rd, instead of going to first hour study hall. I would read instead. I had my kindle with me, and I read from something period — John Brunner’s extravagantly excellent The Shockwave Rider, which I had gotten from the library the first day in school, when I noticed it in the window.
My friend Dave Trojnair thought that was just weird. He thought it even weirder when I explained it. That never discouraged me. I had a different book every day. I read them while everybody else was finishing their work.

I was only at that school for a few months. Circumstances dictated that we had to move, and so we did. New friends time. I moved too. I got on the bus and rode to Campbell and Glenn, to the “Old Chicago” restaurant there. Old Chicago was the name of an indoor amusement park/mall that used to sit at I-55 and Rt. 53, in the Romeoville/Bolingbrook borderlands. It was there that I used to stop before 1st period, to brighten up my day.

I sat in the parking lot and smoked my second joint, remembering the day I saw an old friend from South Hinsdale named Jim Jackson, at the record store in the mall (I was buying “Love is the Drug/Both Ends Burning”, by Roxy Music). We laughed, remembering when I borrowed his 8-track of “In the Wake of Poseidon”, leaving my “Dark Side of the Moon” as damage insurance, and got all the way back to his house on my rickety old bike, with the tape in my hand, running into a stone in the driveway and flinging it high in the air. Jim got to keep “Dark Side”. Later that week, the B. Dalton at the mall stocked all of the John Holmes Ballantine Lovecrafts, and I bought the set.john-holmes_the-shuttered-room_ny-ballantine-1973

I remembered my friends Bill and “Brother”, whose real name was “Leydelle”, but he didn’t like to go by that. Bill was totally into Bowie. I remembered talking him into buying Genesis Live, which he hated, and gave to me. I remembered eating a huge plate of manicotti and then getting on the Rotor. (interestingly, Old Chicago isn’t listed in the wiki article…but the ride was there for sure.) That didn’t end well. Slops!

I laughed, and watched the opening cooks drain the grease trap. That was smelly, so I took the cue to depart.

The next stop was more problematical. My third school was in the middle of the inner city of Joliet, and looked like a castle. I went in for sports at first there, but soured on that all and went in for pool-playing, auto theft, and coffeeshop ennui instead. It was just as well. I was an outfielder then, and Jesse Barfield was at the school. Mark Grant was a few blocks away, at Joliet Catholic, on my way home along Jefferson st.

Eventually, I came up with a solution, and got back on the bus(es).

There’s a metal-working shop on Ft. Lowell that has a little castle out front, with what looks like a haunted house next door. I sat on the grass between them and puffed away on the remains of the second joint and some of the third one. I watched people head for work. By now, the mixtape was about midway.

I walked home from there to the strains of UFO, forgoing the second stop at Church’s, having covered half of my high school years. The second half, the employed half, was about to begin.

The two-liter bong needed water. I filled that up while getting the music ready for the next stage and having a few hits. In my files, I have an abortive attempt at doing ELP’s “Knife Edge”. The keyboard part is complete…which is what I needed. I got my guitar, tuned it, plugged it in, got the thing going, closed my eyes.

I was back jamming with my friend Al Dvorak, gods rest his soul. I remembered the eagle painted directly on the wall, and the weird stuff I painted that night while seated on the left hand of my good friend Mr. Natural. “Just a step cried the sad man
Take a look down at the madman
Theatre kings on silver wings
Fly beyond reason
From the flight of the seagull
Come the spread claws of the eagle
Only fear breaks the silence
As we all kneel pray for guidance…”

We shouted in unison. Ba ba ba babbaba ba babbaba ba, said the instruments.

Just to make things perfect, I scraped some resins out of my bowl, and smoked that, and made an egg concoction for breakfast. Scott wasn’t there this time — he usually was. I had bong hits for all three of us with my coffee, and got to work in lieu of school.

School’s out forever.engine_summerEngine summer’s here, 1979.

I spent the summer in school, too, getting my grades up for a bid at a better school. I took graphic arts, making tshirts and posters out of scrawlings and ruining a jean jacket with a bad silkscreen job. That was the summer that I developed my writing method, which stands to this day, the hippie speedball method, and finished my second novel.

Was not very innocent, but life was cleaner then. Purer. There were times when emotions were unmixed, when things didn’t overcomplicate themselves…hoo boy, it’s getting DEEP in here.

Gimme a break, me. I’ve just aged four years in an hour. I’m for a nap.

 

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