8/19/2016: A Year in Transition-The Junior Year of Sonland High

Good evening to anyone and everyone who may be reading this. It’s been a week and a half since writing thanks in part to school, school, and, yes, school. Update: ‘A’ on the PowerPoint assignment I was talking about on last post and future grade updates soon (though hopefully in not a week and a half). When one spends 10 am from 10 pm on a Saturday on a homework, then one is definitely not hitting the bars till 3 in the morning because one (or in this case me) is shell shocked and could give two s—s less on what the literacy rate percentages are in the Yukon Territories. Exciting life to say the least. Or at least enough to keep me from watching the local NFL franchise actually win a preseason game against the hometown team of one Tara Walczak, the trigger happy Buffalo Bills. (This will give me the opportunity for your sports history factoid of the post: it was a Colts-Bills matchup that a junior Sonland -Noblesville Jr High- aged yours truly went to see for his first regular season NFL game back in the media’s year of 1984. In a rarity, the Colts won 31-17 for their first ever, yes, regular season win in Indianapolis. In a non-rarity, the game was dominated by four dudes behind me calling the Colts plays while doing a comedy performance that was more entertaining than the game itself. I will assume the adult beverage vendors got plenty of business from said foursome that afternoon. If not, all the more impressive as their commentary was a tad better than the s–t I have to listen to from Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on NBC telecasts…which might explain why I tend to prefer using the mute button when those dudes are taking up space on the tube.)

That team would lose three quarters of their games that year to finish 4-12. We saw a lot of bad football back in the pre-Peyton Manning era. Best to not remember it. After all back then it was easier to pick up any hobby other than watching the Colts. Like basket weaving. Or needlepoint. Or stamp collecting. Sadly for me, I was one of those who watched bad football for the sake of watching it. Luckily for me better days to come…..like said Manning era and current Andrew Luck era. At least they don’t just kick field goals anymore or run up the middle 30 times a game like those days during the coaching ‘reign’ of Frank Kush. And enough on said putrid 1980’s local NFL play.

Now that I showed I gave up one of my hobbies-watching the local pro football squad-to work on school assignments, time to try to get another topic out of the way because it will allow me to move forward and actually do what this blog is supposed to do: document the 25th anniversary of my senior year/high school graduation/going with a hot chick to prom/going to a college that was not located in Muncie or Terre Haute/ etc etc. The best way is to go about it as such: there had to be a year to talk about before senior year of the Sonland (aka Noblesville High) took place for yours truly. Which there was. And it was also kind of important because I got to take events already talked about (meeting the future Homecoming Queen and her sister Jennie, going to a concert with NHS icon Jill Lyon, taking classes I wanted to take without feeling the urge to down a bottle of NyQuil, and the much mentioned work on losing weight) and use them as proof that if I wanted to have some positive things take place in my life then I needed to get away from negative s–t and make some changes (read: no dealings with those way too often mentioned non Grammy Award nominated Eight Sons). That year was the title that was read a few moments ago- the junior year of the Sonland, aka for the time being A Year in Transition.

I’ve mentioned a few of the highlights already in previous posts, but best way to talk about it is to go in order from fall to spring on what I remember the most, whom I remember the most, whom I met that made a positive impact on my life (hint: I’ve already mentioned three great women in the previous paragraph) and said changes that helped me on the way from 5-4/200 plus to 6-0/140. So here goes on said highlights….

*When I last left the Sonland in the spring of 1989 I was not really in a joyful mood. I remember arguing with my father on how to best parallel park a car and wondering just why in the f— it mattered since there was no need to parallel park in a city like Sonland City USA (aka Noblesville). In fairness dude was IMO not too happy that I was getting away from my ‘friends’ and deciding to take the classes I wanted to take for the next year. You see, Sonland honors students were supposed to get down and get funky by going for the Academic Honors diploma. However for me that meant taking classes I didn’t want to take with people that I allowed to make me think about doing the Nestea Plunge into an empty swimming pool. No negative s–t for me, said I. So that meant making changes on the class front. Looking back it was a good thing. Better yet it may have saved someone’s life….like mine. And quite frankly I enjoy living.

There was probably a reason for said issues though…….car issues.

*before the 1977 Buick that became my trademark because, well, most Sonlanders again got down with compact cars that and said 1977 Buick was big enough to hold twelve people at a time comfortably……the first car I had was a 1984 Plymouth Turismo (read: the Plymouth name for a Dodge Charger). Bought for $1500 or so at the now defunct Goeke dealership in Sonland City. (There’s a reason it’s now out of business….read further.) For photo op time, here’s an example of said Turismo because quite honestly how often am I going to post a photo of a car that functioned about as well as the Texas billionaire who once married the late Anna Nicole Smith?

 

Not iconic, but I liked it…..until it broke down every time I had to take a proverbial dump. Basically a lot of my summer money went to helping on repairs. The story: it was drove by a dude who had gone to IU-Bloomington and supposedly had a lot of life left in it…except it was so bad once I drove it off the lot that I learned to drive it like it was a stick shift. One problem: It was an automatic transmission. Safe to say that it would eventually take up space and not be driven outside the city limits. Bottom line: my father went to school with this Goeke. This Goeke knew better because he sold us a lemon. Coincidentally I rode my 10 speed a fair amount that summer. And coincidentally -courtesy of lifelong family friends the Millikan family-for $900 yours truly then became the primary driver and operator of -you guessed it-a 1977 Buick. With whitewall tires. And the equal back then of 1950’s car tail fins in the back. Photo of what said 1977 Buick looked like:

….and an example of the front seats that would later have the honor of being occupied by the previously mentioned Homecoming Queen during the previously mentioned post from last month:

It was no Yugo. Better yet, it could have housed three Yugos. But safe to say it did the trick. It also had nicknames like “The Boat” and “The Hooptie” and stuff that wasn’t fit for print. But looking back it only made sense for me to drive this. At the very least I wasn’t going to ever lose the damn thing in the parking lot.

(Incidentally, good comedy story for future posts involving said Prom Date during the trip to and from said prom. Let’s just say it would have been a good 80’s teen movie moment. And if I wanted an actor to play me, I’d go ahead and give Anthony Michael Hall the honors. Or better yet, just make it an Archie cartoon and have Dilton Doiley be me. Actually that’s the way to go, so chalk one up to me. Which in this case makes the Prom Date be  your favorite cartoon blonde and mine, Betty. And you know what that means….

Yep, Dilton always was a pimp.

And that was the car talk of the time. I actually miss that vehicle. Then again, to paraphrase myself from earlier even actual Grammy Award winner Stevie Wonder himself couldn’t miss it. It was pretty good sized.

Oh, back to the junior year…..

*after a summer of 100 degree days and dropping a few pounds, yours truly had mixed emotions about going back to the Sonland but at least had two things going for him: not dealing with previously mentioned Sons and a class schedule that meant doing things I liked to do (such as, shock, writing) as compared to stuff I didn’t like to do (such as, shock, getting insulted by previously mentioned people). I also had my ‘GTFO Countdown’ because quite frankly I looked forward to getting out of Noblesville because I didn’t actually have too big of a social calendar those first two years. But I basically told myself “you’re driving to and from school, you’ve got two years to make it, and if you make it then you’re okay because ANYTHING is better than being in this $!$%%!# school with people who treat you like s–t.’ Remember, I had some anger-actually a lot of anger-at said Eight Sons. The anger helped to motivate me, but it also made me want to lash out because those negative people represented Noblesville and the Sonland to me….and I didn’t want to have much to deal with either back then.

(Ironic that I’d go out of state for school for six years and come back, isn’t it? Let’s just say I grew up. And I also like to be employed for more than $7.00 an hour, too. After all have to pay the bills…though I miss getting to watch eight NFL games on Sundays without needing the satellite dish because my second college town was in the middle of a lot of television markets. Granted one was Carbondale, Illinois, but you already figured out I’ll watch NFL football no matter what the situation so par for the course.)

But with changes came better clothes since I found I could now wear size 33’s and 34’s instead of 40 plus inch jeans. While I needed to improve my shoe selection (I would learn to do this in the spring but I alternated between Converse high tops, a $35 pair of non-Nike Air cross trainers from Nike and suede mocs from Eastland) I did make a deal with my late mother (RIP) and split the cost of the before mentioned leather bomber jacket from the young sons’ department of Lazarus at Castleton Square Mall because I found I wasn’t going to get anywhere with the $39.99 JCPenney catalog specials I usually asked for. To be the Son, you had to try to dress like the Son at said Sonland…or so I thought. Either way I remember going up on a Saturday night to get said jacket at 25 percent off of its $200 cost….which came to $157 with tax. My mom split the cost with me, so it was basically a week’s worth of sacking groceries at the now defunct local grocery that is now home to a local beauty college on the Sonland City south side. The jacket lasted four years, so good investment. (It also made me just think of my sophomore year at undergrad when class got cancelled due to snow….and of course I was out on the road the night before class was cancelled after hitting O’Charley’s before being on a road that was to be closed off the next day by the National Guard. So of course I went sledding and-in a show of how much of a difference there was between Sonland me and fraternity me as I went sledding-without  a sled, of course-and then ended up spending the night with a blonde member of the Tri-Delt sorority. Top quote from her was some good advice: “Don’t be nervous.” So if one wonders why I wasn’t in Noblesville that often during the 1990’s, just read back those last few sentences.)

(Coincidentally, perhaps I should have had that advice for prom. The nervous part, that is.)

TLDR: I wasn’t shopping at Wal-Mart. At least not regularly.

*so first day I sail the 1977 Buick into the parking lot….and I’m a little thinner but not enough to be satisfied. Still work to do as I’m around 165 to 170 even with a little growth spurt in the height department. As said before, no Eight Sons. Your fall class schedule: Physics..Spanish…..Speech….English (split between Research and IIRC Grammar)….Newswriting and U.S. History. Spring would include Physics, the English split of Twain and Shakespeare, U.S. History, Marketing, Spanish and some social studies class that was not of enough importance for me to remember except that senior Amber Craft sat in front of me and Jennifer Brooks always wore tye-dye shirts (Aerosmith was her preference). I apparently stayed awake in there to notice the North Elementary alum and former junior Sonland cheerleader who once wrote that I was a ‘sweetie’ for giving her paper in eighth grade math (of course I was going to give her paper….a girl actually talked to me without saying ‘go fetch’). For your additional trivia, also in said class was the future Mrs. Tim Landis. For my additional trivia, I’m impressed I remembered that.

*only two people of note were actually rude to me on in the early days of said semester…which leads to a story of how I had begun to get some-though not a lot-of confidence to say ‘enough is enough, we’ll take care of this.’ Both were in my Spanish class first semester. Both were younger than me. One ended up not causing any trouble with me in the end and eventually helped fund my senior year trip to Washington DC by buying the DC Club candy yours truly sold for said trip every day in said senior year Spanish class. (Your silenced Son: the younger brother of @deej151. Things evened out as said @deej151 was in U.S. History and was never a c—, so again par for the course). The other was the younger sister of one of our own class icons @sheathera, the current Mrs. Jason Chadio. Just as I remembered being at a previous job where I was a supervisor and I supervised said dude who knew said Chadio and had some, well, interesting stories, I in turn one day that fall decided to do something I would not have done the previous two years-pay a visit to the @sheathera household to have a chat with the little sister and nicely say that there was a way to treat people and there was a way to be not be a c–t. Without getting into specifics…if you read what I thought of The Son Tom Edens in previous posts, you’re on the right track. No issues after that visit….just a few open mouth stares from said little sister of said @sheathera if she ever saw me in public. As in ‘isn’t he supposed to be in a library?’ or ‘Is he losing weight?’ To her credit, she was at least comatose when doing so. So there’s that.

Point of all that- I didn’t care for negativity and people being c—s or c—s no matter who they might be related to. Like I said, I wasn’t going to be hitting the Hollywood scene with Winona Ryder but I sure as f— wasn’t going to get disrespected. Helped me make it through that school. And that’s enough time there. Especially because I have a funny story about one other visit coming shortly…..

*Good friend Tim Anders was in that physics class. To stay amused and stay awake we started the ‘Yawn Count’ because self-explanatory since it’s physics class at 7:45 am in the morning. At least it kept me amused. And even awake at times, too.

*There were two positives of said mentioned Spanish class. One was that my teacher actually told my parents at the Open House deal ‘I didn’t recognize him’ because she had taught us in junior high and I was of course a Coke bottle wearing 200 pounder who Weebled and Wobbled but rarely fell down. So that was nice. The other…..see the ‘Double Dream Date’ post from earlier. That was IIRC when I first met one Trina Byers.

Oh…it wasn’t German class. There’s that.

*See previous 7-19 post entitled ‘The Rock Star’ on why I liked third hour Speech class. One other reason I did forget to mention from said post: my attractive next door neighbor, one senior Hot Sonland Chick Cortnea Lammers was in there. Her photo is on one of the earlier Prom Diary posts on the Instagram account page, and I’ll repeat this from said post: the highlight of my freshman year was being able to ride in the same car (a 1984 Chevette) as her to school since, yes, she was my next door neighbor and apparently took pity on me. (Like I was going to complain.) You’ve seen the early photos of me on said page (if not, scroll to the bottom and look for the fat little male wearing a Coca-Cola rugby shirt), so imagine said fat little male crawling into the back seat of this every weekday morning:

I also assume I gave gas money to said Lammers family as well. If so, well it was damn worth it. And since it was a Chevette, it was probably enough for two weeks worth of use.

*Fourth hour English classes were important because it got my confidence back to show I could actually do work and deal with people who were nice to me as opposed to what I’ve mentioned a few dozen times before about my so-called “peers” in honors classes. If you think I would say said “peers” were the types of people who would eventually end up being over in Vietnam and then shot by their own troops a la Neidermeyer in “Animal House”, you think correctly. And as @jennieb273 remembers it was where I began to pass the time by composing a comic strip entitled “The Dudes” based on the diabolical soccer playing duo of Marc Daege and his main man Jamie Shinneman.  For your current Daege picture, see below courtesy of LinkedIn:

Ah, the Internet.

They seemed to enjoy the comics, along with their fellow soccer man Alan Leerkamp. Which worked since I enjoyed writing them and they kept me awake in class…except one time when for some reason I laid my head down with five minutes to go and then woke up during lunch to find out I was out like a light for a half hour and missed lunch. Fortunately Mr. Dave Purvis had mercy on me, in part because it apparently wasn’t the first time a dude (pun intended) had that happen. Better yet, IIRC it happened to Leerkamp that same week. Guess I needed to drink regular soda instead of diet. Or have three coffees in said class. Which meant having a portable potty in said class if that was the case.

(Your side note: Daege dated my cousin @jen.s.alexander.92 so as far as I was concerned he was in the midst of being related to me in the future. I was introduced as such the one time I visited him and Shinneman at his East Harbour home which featured a dozen or so movie posters of Kathleen Turner.  And as shown by said cousin’s Instagram handle, the relationship eventually ran its course. To even things out, for what it’s worth he’s now the brother-in-law of @taradaege. Scroll to the first paragraph as said sister-in-law was previously mentioned.)

But even more important was being able to see people who I had not seen in years because of said classes with said people who treated me like s–t. Unlike said MAD magazine cover boys and the company that they kept, these individuals were nice to me and treated me with respect. That was important as it helped me handle things much, MUCH better than the best. Among said individuals were one Jeremy Ross (who for a year and a half would date none other than The Prom Date) and two lifelong friends who I had not communicated with in ages: @coryhaffner and @markcoverdale3. Add to that meeting two other great people who have been referenced before (Danny Davis and @jennieb273) and I enjoyed going to class. Kind of important if you’re going there every weekday for nine months out of a year. Even more important when you’re not getting insulted and being made to feel like you should jump out of a plane without a parachute. (Did I mention that I hated my first two years of high school and wished I had gone to Brebeuf instead like I was offered back in junior high? You probably at least didn’t know the second part of that. Now you do. I sure as f— knew for those first two years.)

Bottom line…I actually felt like I had friends and thus some self-worth. Again, kind of important.

To wrap it up, four important areas (two class related and two activity related) as I’m around the 3,700 word mark right now…..first the class stuff…..

*that Newswriting class was VERY important as I ended up with one of the top two grades in the class (Ali Keys was the other one who usually did better than me) and led me down two roads. The academic one was that it led me to making the yearbook staff for senior year. That in turn would make my senior year a lot more bearable. The non-academic one was good comedy. I wasn’t confident enough yet to ask a lot of women out, but I was able to turn an awkward situation into one where comedy could prevail. Those Sonlanders of the Class of ’91 probably remember former varsity cheerleader of said class year one Dena Horn. I sat at the same table (no desks in the newswriting class) as said Horn and early on would get some stares from her for getting decent grades and actually not behaving like my name was Poindexter or Gilbert at Adams College despite the Coke Bottles. The polite way to put it is one day-jokingly or not-Horn made some pretty funky statements to me that were reminiscent of the previously mentioned time in junior Sonland where Andy Cambridge had a bet with Heidi Huber and Jenny Clatfelter that Huber wouldn’t act like she was hitting on me at a football game. (She also had the ‘wasn’t he five foot four and real fat? stare thing going as well as I was getting to look a little better as the fall went on and I dropped more weight.) So on a fall afternoon where there was no supermarket job to go to, yours truly one day after school said ‘You know what, let’s go visit Dena Horn for the f— of it.’ So I sailed the 1977 Buick up to her house and decided to see if she was home. She was. The look on her face was priceless when she opened the door. I simply said “I was in the neighborhood.” To her credit she allowed me in the house for an hour to shoot the proverbial s–t. Even met her father (I was introduced as “he’s the smart one in my newswriting class” as opposed to “he’s the 23 year old bartender with a tattoo of a snake on his a–” or some other phrase) before being politely asked to roll out since, well, it was a shock that I had decided to visit in the first place. Which made the next day in class great as I would be minding my own business and then take a punch in the back from…you guessed it. “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU CAME OVER TO MY HOUSE FITZPATRICK!” was her quote. This instantly got me some cred of sorts from the likes of Tom Jacoby and The Son Matt Todd (who would later date one Candi Streich) at our table. When asked by the grinning Todd (who was basically Horn’s main Son in said class) what was going on, I simply deadpanned “when you’re in the neighborhood of Noblesville’s finest cheerleader, you make sure to pay your respects.” That also got a grin out of Horn. And it damn well beat getting insulted by the people who were my so-called friends from the previous two years of Sonland.

Come to think of it, I can’t believe I went to your house either Dena. Just call me a hopeless romantic. Kirk Cameron would be proud. Or Kirk Douglas. Or Michael Douglas. Or Douglas McArthur. Or the late Dudley Moore of ‘Arthur’ movie fame. Yeah, I’ll move on.

*the fall U.S. History class (of which @trina.byers13 was in as she sat to my left) was one of my all-time favorite classes because I enjoyed history (it would be my major at college number one-the one where I was in a fraternity and thus preferred a major like history so I wouldn’t be writing papers all the time like I do know) and because I was good at it. I also found I had an ally in none other than the teacher himself, one assistant varsity hoops coach Big Jim Sparks. After getting the highest grade in the class on a test, I took a verbal insult from Kevin Walden for getting such grade. As Walden was once one of the Sonland’s promising hoopsters (he’s one of the tall ones in the back row of the fourth Instagram page post…better yet he’s the Son that’s right in the middle) I had at one time been on decent terms with him but apparently getting an ‘A’ in a class you needed to graduate did not set kindly for the man rocking the Hank Williams Jr. T-shirt and flannel long sleeve shirt ensemble. This led to Jim cutting a WWE like promo on said Walden while concluding “one of these days, you’ll be pumping his gas.”  Apparently “his” meant yours truly. In a trend you’ll see with this Sonland, Walden never said anything negative after that.

Now I’ve got to mention this because this is where positive things and positive feedback is important whether you drink at the Sonland or you’re sober somewhere else….consider that a year prior I was in a history class where some of these Eight Sons were such c–ks—ers to our teacher that they made the teacher cut a tear filled promo about not treating certain events and persecution in history (read: the Holocaust) like they mattered…..that shows me the opposite ends of the spectrum. The Eight Sons were negative, arrogant, outright a–holes….and yes those were their good qualities. I didn’t need to be around such s–t. I didn’t need to be negative. I needed to stay the course. I also knew that if good things happened that people had my back….teachers included. If that made me the m—-f—– teacher’s pet in that instance to the likes of a Walden, then woof f—–g w00f.

But here’s your irony with two more to go……

*so, it’s student government election time in our U.S. History class. Jim notes that they need to take said choice seriously. On cue Walden stands up and makes his nomination. If you’re still reading this you know damn well who he picked. It was unanimous. Also find with me as I got out of class every few weeks. Like I was passing that up.

Your irony is that it would eventually lead me to me running for student body treasurer…and getting it. Enough to get me my own talk show on CNBC? Of course not. A big change from the first two years where I did not want to be involved with ANYTHING that had to do with 300 North 17th Street? Damn straight.

So for that, thank you Young Walden.

And with that leading to the last thing and perhaps most important point of this post…

*the year before Big Jim had asked if I wanted to be a varsity basketball statistician. I had gave a non-answer answer and didn’t do it. Well, I was in his class now and so you can put two and two together on what happened the next year. Thanks in huge part to the encouraging words of @coryhaffner as well as @jason_sarber and @markcoverdale3 yours truly went ahead and took the gig. I would do it for both junior and senior year and it would end up being an important experience because it also helped make up for all the negative s–t that I’ve babbled about from my first two years of that school. In what was probably the highlight of my athletic career (mainly because I sure as f— wasn’t much of an athlete) I got introduced by Coach Dave Nicholson as “head statistician” at the pep rally when said Sonland hoops team won sectional senior year (their third in a row). Considering I was happy to no longer be a 15 year old 200 pound plus heart attack and suicide risk, safe to say I’ll take that.

But even more importantly it sums up what I’ve learned all along in my lifetime: if you want positive results and a positive life, it certainly helps to be around positive people who treat you like a peer and not like a P.O.S. That Year of Transition helped show me that. And for those of you who were nice to me and treated me like a peer, many thanks. I’m here at the 5,000 word mark typing this last sentence because of that. Quite frankly without that, I might not be here to begin with.

For that, I am forever thankful.

An important year, that Year in Transition. Now I can get to writing about some good stories to go along with the posts on things like prom and fraternity pledgeship. Speaking of fraternity……”Don’t be nervous” with a Tri-Delt should be a good foreshadowing of that. Let’s just say I made the most of my time at my first college.

Speaking of college….more work awaits. As it always does.

Thanks to all for reading as always and God bless.

Jeff Fitzpatrick

@fitzthoughts

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