The "In" Crowd

For some reason today I was thinking about my time back in high school. Popularity was everything to the “In” crowd. And there was nothing they wouldn’t do to both gain attention from that crowd or to maintain their status there.

Some of the girls played on the basketball team as I did. That was about all the interaction I had with them. Their dreams were about hooking up with the guys on the football team, marrying them and having nice popular babies. And some of the guys from the football team sat next to me in algebra class because I didn’t care if they copied my answers during the tests and I happened to be good at algebra. No doubt a few of them wouldn’t have been able to stay on the football team had that not happened. At least it got me spared some of their adolescent “humor”  throughout high school. That wasn’t my intention but not a bad side benefit. Their dreams were about cars and car sound systems mostly. They took the girls in their crowd for granted.

Most of my friends either went to different schools or didn’t go to school at all. That was fine by me as they didn’t require much by way of performance to impress them. They were the same kind of angry emo metal-head soon-to-become-punk as I was so there was some common sense of alienation and cynicism.

The philosopher @alaindebotton wrote on Twitter a while back:

Most of us are still in jobs unthinkingly chosen for us by our sixteen year old selves.

I can’t remember exactly what future “job” I had in mind when I was sixteen. It had something to do with art or creating things though.

So I found a bunch of these “In Crowd” people on Facebook a while back. They were all members of a couple of high school reunion groups. There have been several reunions. I’ve never gone to any of them. Of all the people I know I am probably the least sentimental or nostalgic. I don’t keep mementos unless they might be of significance to someone else at some point or worth something should I run out of cash sometime, nor do I take a lot of “time of my life” photos of holidays and such. (And I can’t stand the movie Dirty Dancing or others of that genre)

Most of these folks were exactly where they assumed they’d be. No one did anything too remarkable. No Nobel Prize laureates or astronauts that walked in space. Then again I didn’t do anything too remarkable either. I’m fine with that.

The thing I noticed though, from reading their exchanges was the complete fiction that they carried about those days. Sure for many those were the glory days, the time of their most notable actions and achievements. They were completely defined by those moments and refused to let go of them to look at what had happened since then.

Some were parents but their children weren’t mentioned beyond “ 2 kids now” nor were jobs (insurance, sales, technician) much either. But the descriptions of high school parties, outstanding sports plays, regional trophies, hot cars etc went on at length.  But they were so selective in terms of actual events that it was almost amnesiac. There were even sentiments such as “I wish we could go back and do it all again.” 

There was a good deal of mutual reinforcement of the illusory qualities of those memories. Everyone carefully avoided certain incidents and details. Any questions of the “Whatever happened to…?” were directly answered if the answer propped up the current schema and either sidestepped or ignored if not.

I didn’t join that group. Didn’t want to rain on their sunny dreams of memory. And that was then. It’s only relevant in terms of the chain of events that led to now. Sort of a marker on the road or something like that.  Or, in some cases, an anchor that’s dragged along with us in a labored way.

I remember stuff too but without that kind of longing. There’s nothing I’d choose to do over again or even differently. On the one hand it was what it was and on the other it was way too much work to get through some of it. I certainly don’t want to go through all that again.

And I plan for stuff in the future too, but without the rosy glow of hoping for a “brighter tomorrow”. 

Today’s pretty much ok.  Nothing to complain about , nothing to get too excited about.


7 comments on “The "In" Crowd

  1. As I was reading this I thought to myself, “Don’t I know you.?” Of course, I don’t. But I felt some sort of kindredness. I went to three high schools (two American schools in Europe and one in Virginia), and I was only moderately popular in 11th grade, when I was in a band. The rest of the time I was much the outsider. I didn’t fit in with the cool kids, didn’t fit in with the radicals, either.

    I was terrible at math (still am), so you can scratch that commonality. I had to take algebra twice, passing it the second time with a D.

    I thought HS was a waste of time and don’t get it when people talk about it being the best time of their lives. Never cared to go to a reunion. Occasionally I find myself wondering what so-and-so is doing, but not much. I try to stay out of the past. I have trouble enough keeping track of what’s happening today.

  2. Well, I was one of those dorky there-to-learn types, up in the Advanced Placement courses. Of course, I actually didn’t wind up going to college, from there – family couldn’t afford it, and I wasn’t about to ruin the opportunity to enjoy my education – supposing I could’ve – by then saddling myself with a full 40-hour work week, on top of a full 12 credits of school, y’know? That would’ve been too much, so I was determined about.

    Things went downhill, from there, though – hard to get by without “playing the game”, like that, I guess, and I didn’t find any opportunities beside it. Then I enlisted.

    I keep in touch with a couple of friends who I was in any number of extracturricular things with (theater, clubs, and track) and in some classes with. Things weren’t so non-strange, for me, then, so it’s really not so different for me, now.

    Speaking about that “in crowd” trend, I think it’s amazing that it lasts past high-school, with anyone.

    Where I’ve been living, where I’ve been stationed, there is this total “in crowd” creepy vibe, going on, here. I could say, it’s weird, but I know that it really deconstructs to be of some matters of no more than explicitly *local* politics.

    At least, I have memories of California, to keep me company – of that one state, of how many, where liberty is for real. I hope to be returning to there, in a few years. Maybe I’m too old to not see through so much stuff, around here where I am.

    I think nostalgia is natural :7

    • I mean, that creepy “vibe” I believe I’m seeing, I’m seeing it outside of this immediate area where I work, which is kind of a working area by its very nature.

      If some kind of “in crowd” thing even seems to drift by, at work, I think that’s fine, whereas I believe I know what this job is actually about, outside of anyone’s minor politics. In as well, I believe I’ve not seen it, at so many places outside of this state.* In fact, I find it obnoxious, as well as creepy, though I usually don’t let on about as much, in so many words.** People would just get angry, I’m pretty sure.

      * Well, at least a places where there’s just woods, and not too many people.

      ** Maybe that serves to evidence a certain hardness of heart that this guy has picked up, over the years, as a matter (I believe) largely of being tough enough to get by, in some situations. That, and I’m sure I have attachments that I’ve not even begun to recognize. So many things taken for granted, for so long, one might forget if it was ever otherwise. Oh well, still the river keeps flowing on.

  3. Sean wrote:

    “Speaking about that “in crowd” trend, I think it’s amazing that it lasts past high-school, with anyone.”

    I find this surprising too. It takes quite a long time for some people to stop defining themselves in terms of what others think of them. The “in crowd” is only about popularity and insecurity. What a tenuous way to live always catering to that public whim. It’s no wonder celebrities and the like have such problems for they are an extreme example of the same phenomenon.

    Paul said:

    “Don’t I know you.?”

    It is interesting how common human experiences are despite locations, participants and details. As I thought about this the phrase “lovable lunkheads” popped into my mind. I feel like all human beings, myself included, are lovable lunkheads. The scales of lovableness and lunkheadedness may vary but everybody’s in the same boat.

    Jayarava said:

    nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…

    Is anything what it used to be?

  4. long time lurker, delurking!

    i was the same way in highschool–my partner recently got onto facebook specifically to find old highschool friends, and I was completely confused. he’d never been terribly popular either–what in the heck was there in hunting down old people you never were terribly popular with? I have never gone to a reunion and would never. not even necessarily because I dislike the people i went to school with–but what’s the point? i’ve moved on.

    i don’t get that whole “best time of my life” thing either–seems like the only people who can comfortably say that are the ones who were bullies.

  5. The only thing I learned from my ten-year high school reunion is that I’m glad that high school is over. Oh and that I still don’t think high school was the best time of my life.

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