People Like You…

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

Dad called tonight. To tell me that a survey from my high school had come in concerning a 10 year reunion of my high school class. So I started thinking back to high school, and you know what? Over 90% of the time I spent there, and that's a low estimate, was populated by horrible experiences that I don't want to repeat. And I have a confession to make...I didn't graduate.

Oh, sure, I have the diploma. But I never walked down that aisle. After all the shit I waded through, never did I have the honor of that rite of passage...having my name called from the stage amidst the boos and the cat calls (and I imagine it would have gone no differently based on my experiences in the school) from students and teachers alike. I never graduated.

I remember why, too. Vividly. She looked at me dead in the eye, just about done with the second semester of my senior year. I sat there minding my own business in history class. I was still doing the punk thing in those days, nearly a decade ago. So I had more leather than fishnet at the time, but the ideals were the same. I just wanted to be myself and was one of the few with the defenses and the balls to pull it off...but it wasn't easy. I didn't do this to piss off my parents...they were already pissed anyway. I did this because it was me...but I digress. Back to the story.

In the eye she looked at me. I was the only one in the classroom besides her that afternoon, working on the beginnings of the great Senior Term Paper that so many of us had to do in that period of our existence. Like Clint-Fucking Eastwood she looked at me. And she stated one thing before heading out the door. She huffed at the idea of me turning in a term paper. She found it funny. She looked at me and said, "People like you...don't graduate." Then she left the room.

Now a lot of us had our classmates and peers smack us around regularly like that because of our ways of dress or our ideals. But before I go on, let's make one thing clear. This wasn't a classmate that spoke that afternoon. This was the history teacher. "People like you..."

I did the only thing that I in my infinite wisdom thought of. Feeling she was serious in her statement of the obvious, and I was right, I did absolutely nothing for that class...including the non-completion of the aforementioned term paper. Think about it...why bust my ass to work and study if I wasn't going to get through the class anyway? And I had a high average all through high school. The casual kids around me didn't understand...how could someone who looked like THAT be smart? It didn't make sense to them. I was very proud of my grades all through my school years...until she showed up. The History Hack. "People like you..." she said. I still hear it in my head. And I still cry sometimes. Over the power one woman wielded over me just to ruin the GPA of some freak because she felt it was her duty.

I completed summer school easily. My grade point average ruined for fucking life because of one teacher's closed mindedness, I just carried on. I received my diploma three months later. But I didn't graduate. Because "people like me...don't graduate."

"Why didn't you tell me this years ago?" Dad asked. I brought it up a while back and he was appalled that I didn't tell him about it so he could have made a case about it then. I didn't answer. So I ask to the wind that goes by my balcony on dark nights, as I'm jettisoned by cranial delusions back to those days in high school and remember what I looked like and what people thought of me and I ask, "Look at me! Would you have believed me? Would you have put any amount of thought into this beyond thinking I'm making up excuses?" The answer is simple...think about it. They thought I was being rebellious when I was just being me. They didn't know my intentions or motivations. There was nobody to believe me then. "Would you have believed me then?" I think not. Who believes "people like me...?"

I look around now, at my life, and I find it amazing how off everyone was. Did I ever mention I was voted "Most likely to be jailed or dead by 21" by my peers? You know how it works...all classes have the official ballots. "Most likely to succeed." "Most popular." "Gave the most blowjobs in the boy's bathroom." Then they have the not so official one. "Most likely to be jailed or dead by 21." Yes, that was my claim to fame. I laugh about it now. But back then when I received the list, not wanting to touch it because I knew I was on there somewhere, and being handed it by one of the super-dooper jocky "look at the freak!" cat callers with a shit eating grin that looked JUST LIKE the Clint-Fucking Eastwood History Hack grin, I knew I didn't want it. But it was shoved into my hand. And near the top of the list, there it was. "Marc - Most Likely To be Jailed or Dead by 21." Oh what a hoot, eh? I still cry about that, too, sometimes when nobody's around.

So without further adieu, dear L*****, New Jersey High School Class of 1989. "People like me...?" Look around, you fucking stumps who tormented me for four fucking years. Look the fuck around you. Where are you now? "People like me..." I'm a head Marketing Engineer for the fourth largest comp-co. in the states. I have a list of awards and Best Buy type ratings that you wouldn't believe. I have a loving family with two daughters. I have a zine that is probably the longest running in the country with it's 79th issue to debut in about a month. I have a site on the web that gets near 30000 hits/month...and that's only because it's the summer. My record is over 10K in a day. So look the fuck around you. I'm not jailed. I'm not dead. As a matter of fact, I'm kicking some extensive ass. "People like me..." fucking rule. I shit more earned respect than any of you have earned to date.

I'm done remembering any of you; teachers and peers alike. The last tear over my "humorous" senior-year award has dropped. The last sigh over losing out on the graduation rite of passage and my wrecked GPA is uttered. The last remembrance of all of you has occurred. And if I go to this class reunion...it will ONLY be to piss on your shit stained teeth.

(Originally posted in alt.gothic.)

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