Edited by Michael-Leonard
A short story about the day I cut school and the education I received.
I was in my home office, sitting at my desk in front of my computer, staring at the blank page trying to come up with an idea for my next story, when I my eyes focused on the empty section of the room where my bed and stereo used to sit. My mind began to wander back in time, nearly forty-five years ago, before I met the girl of my dreams who would eventually become my wife, to the time when I lost my innocence.
My name is Jack. The year was 1967, just before the summer of love. America was beginning to lose its innocence. The Vietnam War was escalating out of control, protests were making the nightly news, and the "sexual revolution" was just beginning. As for me, I was still living in my own little world. I was sixteen and a sophomore in high school. Up until about two years before I was considered a short "husky" little kid. Then, over the previous summer, I grew four inches but didn't gain an ounce of weight. I went from five feet tall to five feet four inches seemingly overnight. Prior to my transformation no girl would even look in my direction, now at least they were beginning to look. Now I was two inches taller, and still weighed about one hundred and thirty pounds. Judging from my parents I was never going to be too much taller. As a freshman, I played second-string guard on our basketball team and I was the starting second baseman on our baseball team. Playing sports, even sitting on the bench, at least made me known to most of the kids in my school. The cheerleaders all liked me because I was funny, cute and -- most importantly -- safe. They looked to me as a friend, not a potential boyfriend.
The following year I left our middle school and moved up to the town's three-year high school. Now I was back to being one of the little guys. Fortunately for me, my sport skills improved enough for me to make the junior varsity teams in both basketball and baseball, even though I was competing against kids not only from my middle school but also from the middle school from across town. Being junior varsity gave me semi-celebrity status among the nearly thirty five hundred students.
I was still a virgin, though that didn't really bother me too much. I thought of the girls in my classes as friends; I felt lucky to be accepted as their friend. You see my self-esteem was pretty low. I guess it had something to do with the way that I was raised. A shrink would say that it was because of my over-dominant mother and my seemingly-submissive father, but that wouldn't be entirely true either. I was always afraid to try something new -- including kissing a girl, or making out, or touching. It wasn't that I wasn't interest in sex, I was. I knew all about sex from reading the trashy adult paperback books I found in a cardboard box under my father's workbench in the basement. I had spent many an evening entertaining myself, with my six-inch friend, while reading all about it. I had the usual schoolboy crushes on the prettiest, biggest chested, or most athletic girls in the school; they just didn't know that I existed.
The school year was rapidly coming to an end. It was mid-June; the seniors were already done with their exams and would be graduating on Thursday. I had already completed all of my exams as well. For me this was going to be the last full week of school, the next week would consist of three half- days and school would be over for the summer. From now until the end of the year we'd be just going through the motions.
I heard the alarm go off, stretched out my arm and hit the snooze button. Five minutes later, the alarm went off again, this time I sat up and listened to the radio announcer reporting the weather. It was going to be a hot one again today. Hazy, hot and humid; high in the mid-nineties was forecast for today.
'Terrific, ' I thought to myself, 'the school is going to be like a furnace today.' The city fathers in their divine wisdom had designed the five-year-old high school with walls of windows, which only opened at the bottom to allow minimal amount of breeze into the classrooms, and had not installed or planned for air conditioning. After all, it only got really hot towards the end of May and the school year would end soon after.
I ran down stairs and jumped into the shower before my sister got in there. I got dressed in my slacks and a short-sleeved shirt, had my cereal and juice, and headed off to school. The walk lasted twenty minutes and, by that time, my head was soaked with sweat as was the back of my shirt. I found a nice shady tree to stand under hoping for a cooling breeze. The breeze never came, but two girls from my homeroom did. Christine and Heidi could not have been more different from one another. Christine was about my size, thin, and cute in a mousy sort of way. She had long straight brown hair that hung half way down her back and wore dark rimmed glasses. I always liked her, but not in a sexual way. She was just a school friend.
On the other hand, Heidi was tall -- close to six feet -- and full figured with more than her share of womanly curves. She had short blond hair and was not really pretty; she had more of a handsome looking face. If they continued to hang around together, these two would be destined to become our class's odd couple for our yearbook. Heidi intimidated the hell out of me. She was six inches taller than me, probably outweighed me by at least thirty pounds and, from what I could see, her arms were almost twice the size of mine. She was loud and boisterous almost to the point of being overbearing.
"Hi Chris, hi Heidi; ready for another day in the hot box?"
"Hi Jack. Chris and I were thinking about cutting school today. Our exams are done, we're not going to be doing anything in classes anyway, so why go to class at all? Besides today is senior cut day, practically the entire senior class is going to be out walking around getting kids to sign their yearbooks or just not going to class. We were planning on leaving right after homeroom. Why don't you join us?"
"I don't know, won't we get in trouble?"
"Don't be such a wimp, the teachers aren't going to care; they don't want to be in school any more than we do."
I never did anything like this before; I never missed a day of class from the time I started kindergarten to this very day. I may have been the class clown and unruly at times, but never did I cause any trouble.
Chris looked at me with her big brown eyes.
"Jack, please join us, it will be so much fun."
How could I say no?
"OK, where are we going to go?"
"I remember you telling me one time that both of your parents work; my mom is home and Chris's Dad works the night shift so he's going to be home. Your house makes the most sense, as long as you have air conditioning."
"Sure, I have an air conditioner in my room. We could listen to some of my albums on my stereo."
"Great, then it's settled, right after homeroom we'll meet here and head over to Jack's house. Let's get inside before the bell."
Homeroom lasted about fifteen minutes, just long enough for the teacher to take attendance, and for us to say the pledge of allegiance. The whole time I sat there feeling like I had the word "guilty" stenciled on my forehead. Was I really going to cut school? At this point I had to, what choice did I have? If I backed out now Heidi would be calling me a wimp for the all of next year.
The bell sounded ending homeroom, and also ending the argument taking place inside my head. Instead of heading to my first period class I walked down the hall, down the staircase to the first floor and out the door; all the time worrying that at any moment I would feel the hand of one of my teachers grabbing hold of my shoulder and pulling me back into school. It never happened. Instead I found myself standing under the tree, with the trunk between me and the school. Two minutes later, I was joined by the girls.
"Come on, let's get out of here," Heidi practically dragging Chris and me by the hand, leading us off the school property in the direction of my house.
The whole time we were walking home, all I could think of was how much trouble I'd be in if my mother found out that I had cut school. Little did I know that this was nothing compared to what I was going to be doing for the rest of the day and the real trouble I could be in if anyone found out.
As I look back on it now it was amazing that my mother never found out. We walked through the park and down my street to my back door, in broad daylight, with at least ten of my neighbors along the route being home. In our neighborhood, everyone knew everyone else and talked to each other all the time. Yet, we walked right to my back door as if we were invisible to the rest of the world. Just dumb luck I guess.
I quickly unlocked the door and ushered the girls into the house. As I led them through the kitchen, the dining room and into the living room, Chris said,
"This is really nice."
All I got was a grunt out of Heidi. I know the neighborhoods that the girls lived in. Chris's folks have a house, a small Cape Cod, in one of the older sections of town. Heidi lives on the other side of the park in the relatively new section of larger split-level homes that were built a couple of years ago. My parents' home is a small ranch, the main floor, which is elevated off the ground by five feet, consists of a small kitchen, a dining room and living room a full bathroom and two bedrooms. My bedroom is up a short flight of stairs and is located over the garage.
.... There is more of this story ...