Is This All There Is? Yes. But It’s Better Than Being In High School – Part 1

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A friend of mine asked me this question two weeks ago. He is married to a fine woman, has a cute little girl, and lives in a nice home in a good neighborhood. He makes good money but, like most of us these days, he works all the time. So is this it? Is this all there is?

I gave a well-thought-out and inspirational answer. Yes, get used to it because this is all there is. If that disappoints you, then adjust your expectations. Whatever your life is like now, I said, it is certainly better than being in high school. Usually the worst years in the lives of us Baby Boomers were those four tortuous years. People say time flies by. Not in high school. Every second seemed like a minute.

Charles McCain, 17, senior year photo for “The Warrior” year book. Check out that really cool double-knit tie. Quite the fashion statement.

The only students who enjoyed high school were the quarterback of the football team and the head cheerleader. BTW, I find it curious, that the “head” and “cheerleader” are usually written together with “head” being the adjective modifying “cheerleader.” Paging Dr. Freud.

I attended Orangeburg High School and can say without question my high school years were miserable. Of course, my mother took sick with cancer when I was fourteen and a freshman. She lingered in terrible pain through my sophomore year when I was fifteen and died in January of my junior year when I was sixteen. So I have blanked out much of what went on in high school.

Obviously, most high school students don’t have that experience. Putting aside my personal trauma which consumed most of my thoughts, I remember the guys at Orangeburg High were bashful and insecure with girls and worried about girls they had been out with or wanted to go out with. So guys thought a lot about girls; getting dates with girls; going out with those girls and not making fools of themselves; getting to first base, then second base, then third base and if lucky, to forth base!!! I was under the mistaken impression that didn’t happen a lot. Wrong.

Years and years later some of my gal pals from high school told me about all the sex that went on and I was amazed. Half the students were banging their brains out. “You mean Lucretia Praiseworthy used to bang Thompson Woody? No!!!! And Eddie was doing Cruella DeVille? At his grandparents’ house?” Incredible. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe it.

Naturally the guys I thought were getting it, weren’t getting much, and the guys I thought weren’t getting much, got a lot. This is like realizing that it was Jughead doing Veronica and not Archie. Who were the girls most generous with their favors? Usually the most uptight, prim and proper girls who never missed church were the ones who frequently tossed modesty out the window as far as they could throw it.

Being conflicted about my sexual identity, I can’t say I scored with any girls — just a guy — although I wasn’t gay. No one admitted to being gay. No one even talked about anyone being gay. You would probably have been killed if you said you were gay. The only gay guys anyone knew were Liberace, Paul Lynd on Hollywood Squares, and Freddie the counterman at Julius’ Place. And I was hardly like any of them. Besides I knew I wasn’t gay. The very thought that I might made me nuts and I repressed it for a long time. Alas, I came out late in life and now I still can’t get a date.

The other stuff guys worried about were zits, being too skinny, (remember this was the 70s and everyone was skinny), the size of their johnsons, and not having enough muscles. And zits, which I think I mentioned. Guys also worried about getting a car when they were old enough to drive (and you could get your license when you were fourteen) and if they had a car, was it cool enough? (Usually not unless you think a Corvair is cool.)

What did girls worry about? Girls worried about the size of their breasts. One of my gal pals told me and I’m not kidding, that the secret advice whispered from girl to girl on how to increase the size of their breasts was to silently repeat at least one hundred times a day, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.”

The very talented and very beautiful OHS cheerleaders in 1970. We really did have the best-looking cheerleaders of any of our rival high schools, bar none. I’m certain that is my pal Sherri Sims on the far left. Our school colors were purple and gold. GO INDIANS!!! “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar! All for Orangeburg stand up and holler!”

[Image courtesy of Facebook.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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