Apprehension played around the edges of the boy's eyes as he stood alone in the room with the
green walls. It was ten till nine and he had to hurry. A girl going down the hall to his left looked
familiar, so the boy tried to follow her. "I hope she doesn't see me," he thought.
The principal, Mr.W.W. Piland, had been at his junior high school the year before. That didn't
help. "Same ole ball game, just a different park." That didn't help. His thoughts were interrupted
by the happy sight of his homeroom teacher standing outside her door. He was there.
Getting to classes was complicated by the fear of being intimidated and humiliated by seniors.
By the end of the day, though, the boy was convinced that such things never happened.
Then, as he walked across the porch in front of the auditorium, the boy saw a terrifying sight. A
stout, curly-haired guy was pushing freshman off the porch into the bushes. Fear and anger froze
the boy's thoughts. Then, just ahead of him, a barrel-chested freshman knocked the menace in the
head and shouted the welcomely trite offer, "Pick on someone your own size." The shamed assail-
ant chose not to. His head spun.
The boy found his way to the bus, and after a long ride he got off at his corner, where he was
met by two sophomores who said "Let's get the freshman. Let's make him roll a pencil". "Make
me roll it," the boy bluffed. He stared hard at them for a long moment, then turned and left them
silently behind. They stood gazing at the pencil.
Shutting the door behind him, he flopped down on the couch. "How was school?" asked his sis-
ter. The freshman was home.
Distinguished alumnus William Spong visited the school that year, following his election to the
U.S. Senate. Sitting far back under the balcony with the freshman Class President, Monty Mat-
thews, the boy decided to become President of the United States.
A friend lost his math book and had to borrow the boy's book for a few nights. When it was re-
turned, the boy found two reserved seat tickets to the concert to be given by Chad and Jeremy
and the McCoys. "Hang on, Sloopy," he chuckled to himself. "They sell for $3.50. I can sell them
both for five dollars and rack up." He found a buyer, but decided to give them hack to their owner
for some reason. For some reason. No apology. Just a simple, friendly lie.
"Thank you!" said the owner.
"You're welcome," lied the boy. But he was proud. And that was new. Proud.
"Do you want one of the daisies the National Honor Society is selling?" the boy, now a sopho-
more, asked his girl friend.
"No, I'm allergic to them." He took her to see Oklahoma instead.
Johnny Unitas visited the school. "Look at those shoulders," the boy's girl friend said. He de-
cided to get some barbells and work out.
He voted for Stuart Duffen for Junior Class President in the SCA elections. Stuart won; this
pleased the boy. He liked to vote for the winner.
In his junior year, the boy bought a class ring with a blue stone. Most people bought traditional
rings from the junior class. He wished he had, too.
Mary Welton was elected Maid of Honor at Homecoming time. The boy sneaked out of his
study and went to her typing class to congratulate her. She smiled in thanks. That was nice.
The theme of the Prom that spring was "Neptune's Palace." The class sponsors, Miss Stewart
and Mrs. Levinson, along with Rozzy Rivin and Stuart Duffen and dozens of other kids, helped
arrange the whole big thing and decorate the gym. It was a lot of work. The whole thing made
the boy sad. Girls who want to go but aren't asked. Boys afraid to ask them. Boys asking girls
they don't really like, and girls accepting, just to get to go.
The boy didn't think about the happy people. He didn't go.
And then there was the night at a friend's house. Sitting in the den, the boy heard the sound of
Shouts and trumpets, and a bass drum coming from the direction of the school. It sounded like the
bus bringing the baseball team back from the state championship game. The noise grew louder.
"Oh, well, I guess we're number one again," he laughed to his friend.
One night at the library, the boy decided to call Mrs. Phillips to get some notes on mythology
from her. Moments later the librarian said there was a phone call for him. It was a friend. He said,
"Mrs. Phillips was in a wreck this morning…"
Then the boy was a senior. The year before the football team had had a record of 10-0-1 and was rated number one in the group 1-A standings of the Virginia High School League.
The boy claimed that this year he didn't care what the team did. "It meant nothing to him,"
he said. "Who cares if we're number one?"
On the night of the Great Bridge football game he went to the movies. On the way home, Stan
Garfin on WTAR asked the audience, "Do you think the Great Bridge defeat of Wilson was an
upset? Call me at ..." The boy stopped the car, and got out. He felt sick.
After mid-term, graduation was all the boy worried about. He had lettered in basketball and
had been accepted by his first choice college. He had won a medal in the state science fair. It
seemed sad that Mrs. Phillips would not know. He would never forget that.
He felt bothered to have to practice walking into the auditorium, and it irked him something
awful to have to wear one of those silly blue dresses.
Once again apprehension made the boy's eyes quiver. He worried that he would trip walking
down the sloping aisle, which was newly waxed. He was almost out of high school. He looked at
the doorway at the back of the auditorium where he stood. It struck him as symbolic of the thresh-
old of manhood. So he would walk through it. He had learned a lot. So he walked through.
Inside, he was dimly aware of the ceremony, led by the SCA President, Ronnie St. Clair, and by
the Senior Class President, Dennis Lewin. He saw Bill Boyd and Alarie Tennille acclaimed as the
class valedictorian and salutatorian.
As the man left the auditorium, he saw standing outside a young lady who had just graduated
wlth him. She asked him, "What are you thinking about?"
"How much I hate this place."
"Yeah, I know," she agreed sympathetically. They stood silently together. Long minutes, waiting.
"Y'know, I've been here since I was fourteen." She looked up at him as he spoke. He opened his
mouth, then shut it. Swallowed air. Opened his mouth. "These have been the best years of my
She looked down. Then up. Very high up. Then at him. She could hardly see him.
"Yeah," she whispered, "I know." He offered her his handkerchief.
Author - Roger Davis
Research Committee - Alarie Tennille Linda Yerabek