I went to the local high school recently to meet with the principal. I figured because it's been about 12 years since I graduated, I need to hang with the teen crowd as much as possible while writing my first YA book (a romance set in a California beach town like mine) for research purposes. So we discussed ideas for observing/volunteering/tutoring/teaching in the classrooms. Jay, Robin and I are planning a few fun surprises for the creative writing classes...hopefully they'll find us to be inspirational and entertaining and not narcissistic and boring!
Just sitting in his office with the inspirational posters, silly coffee mugs and massive windows facing the quad brought me back to my high school days. Not that I spent any of my school days in the principal's office. (Robin did! But that's another story.) I felt like a 16-year-old again as we talked about our favorite YA books and 80's bands. As the period bell rang, and we watched 2000 kids scurrying to their next classes while laughing, tripping and smacking each other, I suddenly felt really old. They looked like 8-year-olds compared to me (and I was even wearing my cool wrap-around dress and leggings!). Then I realized that the principal, who I had assumed was much older because he's a respected man of authority, was probably my age!
A few days later Robin, Jay and I took a trip down memory lane while having coffee with Robin's adorable mother, who's visiting from Georgia. She told a hilarious story about the worst thing Robin ever did in high school (it involves a blinking T-shirt and vomit...but you don't want to hear it, do you?). Also, when her mom was the Vice Principal, Robin got busted for writing swear words in place of real words while transcribing her favorite song.
Then Jay chimed in with his story about getting in trouble for creating an underground newspaper (full of false slanderous gossip about everyone in school), and how he had to read it out loud and apologize to every student, teacher, and janitor mentioned in it! I read a copy of his underground newspaper yesterday and it is sick and twisted and disgusting and evil and freaking hilarious!!
I was a model student as a teen, so I had no stories to add. I think the worst thing I ever did was help the teachers unload their picket signs when they went on strike, and the principal was mad at me. Seriously! I was a freakishly boring child.
After listening to the local principal's stories about things he's had to deal with in the last ten years (shootings, drugs, etc...) and comparing them to stories of our teen years, I got a little freaked out. Were we really more innocent back then? Are teens today crazier and scarier than we were? Or maybe every generation squawks about “those disrespectful youngsters...” and really nothing's changed except our perception of how innocent we were as teens. Maybe we just forget how crazy and disrespectful we were. But on second thought, no one at my school was toting a gun or making bombs.
Remember when...the worst thing anyone did at school was write some swear words on paper or create an underground newspaper?? Ahh, those were the days! What's the worst thing you ever did in high school? C'mon...you know you want to tell us. (I need it for “research.” Thanks!)