Monday, March 19, 2007

An Embarrassing Slice of My Life

Kelly Tayner. Kelly was a football player. A year behind me in high school. I didn't usually go for guys who were younger than me. For Kelly, had circumstances been different, I would have made an exception.

Kelly was hunk-o-licious handsome, but he wasn't in the least bit arrogant about his looks. In fact, Kelly was notably uncomfortable and shy about all the attention girls paid to him. Athletic, gorgeous and humble. A deadly combination. Oh, and Kelly adored me--also lethal. Devoted puppy dog looks in my direction, but too shy ever to follow through.

Even if he had asked me out, there were two things that would have held me back from dating Kelly. First of all, I already had a boyfriend. Bit of a stumbling block. But the real deal breaker was that Kelly was too dumb for me. Wanna know how I know that? I had occasion to witness firsthand how slow Kelly was while we attended summer school together.

Now, in case you don't realize what a major indictment that is on me, summer school in those days was reserved for the dumbest of the dumb*. It was for the kids who couldn't pass regular classes during the school year and needed serious, concentrated, one-on-one tutoring, all day long for six weeks over summer vacation. And I was there. Adding insult to injury, I was there to make up the Freshman English class I had failed. Freshman freaking English. A class I could have passed (and nearly did) with my eyes closed.

The real story behind the one class I ever flunked was not that I couldn't grasp the subject, but that I never bothered to show up. We were allowed to miss 15 days in a quarter. Three whole weeks of absence left us considerable leeway. I managed to miss at least 16 days. And not because I was sick. Freshman English, to my way of thinking, was beneath me. A waste of time that could better be used for socializing. So I skipped class from time to time. A couple time to times a week, in fact.

The TA in that class, a senior named Kirk, tried, on my behalf, to make it work for me. He attempted to fudge the attendance record just enough. He tried to sneak in a fabricated grade here and there for assignments I had missed. But in the end, all his generous help just wasn't enough. One lovely June morning Kirk stood before me shaking his head. He was clearly so sad that he couldn't have done more. "I tried," he lamented, "but you missed just one too many days. Sorry." I was sorry too.

With unabridged humiliation, I was obliged to report to summer school with the rest of the dolts. Including--like a flourless chocolate cake--sweet, dense Kelly.

On that first shameful day of post school school, Mrs. Hambly informed us that as long as we did all the work and scored at least 80% on the assignments and exams, she didn't care if we worked ahead and finished a few days early. That lit a fire under me like nothing else could have. Even the prospect of dallying about with Kelly for six uninterrupted weeks wasn't enough to quench my unstoppable desire to get the hell out of there.

In order to rescue my family and myself from the disgrace I had brought down like a plague on our house, I endeavored to complete the work as quickly as humanly possible. I crammed a six week course into 5 days flat. Done. Washed my hands of that place and those people forever. So long, darling Kelly.

Ironically, I learned more about English grammar and syntax in those 5 days than I did in the rest of the combined years of my education.

I wonder what ever became of Kelly?

Must go Google . . .

*I appreciate that this is a harsh judgement. I'm describing it the way I viewed things when I was 15--and horrible!


whitenoise said...

I love the story!

About the boy, people change. Hidden talents emerge. And, highschool is a poor place to form life-long opinions of people.

For example- I had a chance to get together with a highschool friend about 2 years ago after having very little contact for 25 years. I showed him my hobby business- writing scheduling software in VB.

He chuckled and said "Dude, I didn't know you had it in you," then tried to catch himself as he realised how condescending the remark sounded.

It occured to me then, that he and others viewed my abilities much differently than I had. Me- who coasted thru school on honours, who qualified for mensa- I was viewed as a "Kelly" because I was inarticulate in highschool and didn't go to university like the rest of the crowd. We often fail to give people the chance that they deserve.

I'm not aiming this at you, it just seemed like a good place to throw the idea out. It was more of a self-discovery thing and I'm as guilty of pigeon-holing people as anyone else...

Sorry, great story. ;-)

Kristin said...

Oh--I could not agree more! I'm sure there are *lots* of people who haven't had any contact with me during the last couple of decades who likely think of me as a horrible human being. Yikes! And thank God none of us really stays the same as we were in high school!

Kelly was truly a sweet boy. Wherever he is, I'm sure he's doing fine.

On the other hand, a couple years ago I reconnected with a close girlfriend from h.s. She was just a ditzy and (hmmmm, how to phrase this nicely . . . ) retarded as she ever had been. Okay, that was wrong. She was *really* immature. (Told me how 'yummy' my 18yos was. ewwww!) Shocked me. Somehow I "lost" her e-mail when switching servers . . .

Rick said...

Where ever he is, I hope he doesn't read this post!

whitenoise said...

Actually, Kristin, Rick brings up a good point. Google searches seem to rank blogger posts fairly high. I've had a couple that made me nervous enough to go back and slip a period or tilde into the string that I didn't want to turn up.

Kristin said...

Not to worry boys, I didn't use his real name. I would never want to cause harm to anyone, much less a kind hearted person like "Kelly."

And seriously--I have a deep understanding about how some folks just don't take well to school and it doesn't make them any less intelligent than the honor students.

My youngest is one of those. Not a natural scholar, he can fix and/or put together just about anything. He's also thoughtful, diplomatic, funny and never ceases to amaze me with his observations of people and things. Great kid. Wouldn't trade him for any kind of braniac!

Hmmmm, wondering if I'm coming off a little too bitchy? That's not really me.

Rick said...

Note to self; "do not use real name". This may save me a great deal of trouble in the future! :)

whitenoise said...

No, not too bitchy. Sorry, shoulda saved my original comment for somewhere else, I may have wrecked your story. ;-(

Kristin said...

Whitenoise, you wrecked nothing : ) I always enjoy your comments.

Trying to figure out your infernal Happy Jack riddle . . . what the hell?

whitenoise said...

Riddle? ;-)