For someone who is generally able to dredge up vivid memories of the past, my four years of high school are something of a blank. The fact that I can remember so little of them might imply some sort of negative trauma associated with it, but I don’t think there was one. I simply did not like high school. I did not fit in. To say I didn’t want to fit in probably wouldn’t be true, I’m sure…we all want to be liked. But high school is in effect a four-year class on The Joys of Heterosexuality, and I wanted no part of it.
The high school years are an endless sea of raging hormones, and mine were raging in quite a different direction than the vast, vast majority. It did have some slight advantages, though, in that males that age are often open to experimentation…with the unspoken but absolutely ironclad rule that you were never, never to talk about it. So as a result, I was able to do my own sexual experimenting with about half my high school class—the male half. I’m sure that 99 percent of them went on to marry nice girls and follow the Biblical instructions to be fruitful and multiply. (I was fruitful, too, but didn’t multiply.)
Oddly, now that I think of it, I cannot remember encountering even one other gay or lesbian student. Though statistically in a school of 1,200 there had to be at least 120 of us.
I had two friends during my high school years, one of whom did not attend the same school as I. And I feel obligated to point out that both were notable exceptions to my “half the class” statement. One went on to join and make a career in the Air Force, marrying his high school sweetheart not long after graduation. I’m sure I must have had other friends, and I do recall several names and faces but for the most part I was a loner through both choice and circumstance.
I was a somewhat-above-average student, though not all that much above average, probably due to the fact that I prided myself on never having brought homework home. Perhaps as a result of that dubious distinction, I remember an English exam in which I totally and completely froze, and was unable to remember the answer to a single question. In desperation I wrote a note at the top of the paper saying: “I’m sorry, but my mind has shut down. I could have cheated, but I didn’t.” It was an obvious bid for sympathy or at least leniency from the teacher, but it produced neither.
Throughout my somewhat checkered academic career up to college, my parents collected a sizable assortment of notes from teachers all saying, in effect: “Roger could do much better if only he would apply himself.” Applying myself would have involved patience, and we all know where I stand on that one.
So when I walked out of the doors of East High in June of 1952, they closed behind me and I never looked back. I occasionally, even today, get announcements of reunions and news of my classmates, none of whom I can remember. I’m sure I might be able to remember some, if I really tried, and I’m sure they are all very nice people who have gone on to live happy, heterosexual lives. But each bulletin I receive only serves to remind me of the fact that I did not belong in their world in 1952, and I still do not belong in it today.
If anyone has any questions as to why I do not care for reality and became a writer, I’d be happy to answer them.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: