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



Charles McCain, age 2, being held by my older sister 367 Green Street 1957 cropped

Charles McCain, age two, long before I was exposed to the grim reality of high school.

My older sister, Mimi, who has always been protective of me throughout our lives, is holding me in her lap. Of course, I was an adorable child. ( I think that goes without saying). We are in the main sitting room of my grandparent’s home on 367 Green Street in Orangeburg, SC in February of 1957. Take a look at that very cool television set.


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, it is. Get used to it.  If that disappoints you, then adjust your expectations. Think of it this way, whatever your life is like now, it is certainly better than being in high school.”

Usually the worst years in the lives of us Baby Boomers were those four tortured, zit-ridden, and always embarrassing years of high school. Hard to believe but these years were even worse than the two excruciating years of junior high.

People say time flies by. Not in high school. Every second seemed like a minute.


 Charles McCain High School Yearbook photo senior year OHS 1973

Charles McCain, 17, senior year photo for “The Warrior” year book. Check out that really cool double-knit tie. Quite the fashion statement. And no, I’m not wearing a wig. My hair really was that long. It used to piss off lots of adults which is one the reasons I kept it that long. Duh.


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 became very ill 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 Linda Praiseworthy used to bang Woody Thompson ? No!!!! Her father was a minister! And Bob Dorpenmuller was doing Collen DeVille? At his grandparents’ house?”  Seriously, you wouldn’t believe it.

Naturally the guys I thought were getting it all the time, weren’t getting much, and the guys I thought weren’t getting much, were getting a lot. This is like realizing that it was Jughead doing Veronica and not Archie.

Apparently many of the girls most generous with their favors were the most uptight, prim and proper girls, the ones who never missed church. Shocking. In fact, from what friends told me decades later, many of these exemplars of Victorian prudery often invited into their bedrooms their several boyfriends–although not at the same time.

Before certain activities commenced, the girls opened their bedroom windows, seized modesty and virtue from under their beds, and threw those two things out of the windows.

“She did what! With him? Dozens of times? How did those two even know what that was? You mean,  ……??????”  Shocking. You may think that I was clueless and naive as a lad. Clueless, often. Naive, not so much.

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.  I came out late in life. Unfortunately, I was never good at getting dates with girls and this carried over to guys.

The other stuff guys worried about in high school 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? (Not unless you thought a Corvair was cool.)

Breast Size Was the Worry of Most Girls

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.”


OHS Class of 1970 Cheerleading Squad. Go Indians!
The very talented and very beautiful OHS cheerleaders in 1970. Our school colors were purple and gold.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 with the long blonde hair.
 Go Orangeburg Indians!!!
“Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar!
All for Orangeburg stand up and holler!”
“Watermelon, watermelon, ripe on the vine
Look at the scoreboard and see whose behind
you, you, you, you”
“Potato chips, potato chips
greasy, greasy
we’re going to beat you
easy. easy”
These cheers are classics of Southern high school culture of the 1960s.

Published by

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: