Tuesday, March 06, 2007


In response to the recent spate of High School year book picture postings, I hereby offer this snapshot for your delectation and amusement.

I think this picture was actually taken in 1971, given the extraordinary amount of time it took us to pull together the senior class year book for my graduating year. In fact, we didn't receive them for another year, returning in the Spring of 1973, at which point this picture and many like it had been reduced to the merely comical.

By the time I graduated High School in 1972, my hair had finally made it's way down to my shoulders, though it remained the mess of raven curls you see here before you. Of course, in my senior year, I had it cut in a then-fashionable shag haircut, losing the curls and gaining layers. It proved to be a highly unmanageable style for me, and a challenge to my Gillette SuperMax 200 watt blowdryer, which was incapable of producing neither the heat nor the wind required for that tousled, windblown look so many of us were attempting at that time.

Yes, I am wearing overalls in my High School graduation picture; such were the times. My mother was so proud. She refused to purchase the ready-for-framing 5" x 7" or the series of wallet sized prints the school was shilling. She should have been relieved. I did not, as others did, pose with a woolly glued-on beard. Nor did I pose in the style of Veronica Lake, or submit a cartoon in place of my photograph, as some of my more clever classmates did. Our yearbook, bound in faux silver leather, resembled nothing so much as Andy Warhol's Index, all moody black and white, with second-hand camp overtones.

For the photo shoot, I merely turned up in my teen aged notion of fancy dress-up. I'd had the overalls for a while, even affixing an applique to the rear yoke of an American Beauty rose, in tribute to the Grateful Dead album of the same name. I'd conspired to team the overalls with one of my very special and favorite shirts, a pearl buttoned western model; pale cream festooned with faded yellow cabbage roses and still paler green foliage. Paired with my ubiquitous Frye harness boots, I thought I looked terrific.

The hair was the first to go. Having spent the night dancing in the sweaty basement of the Ninth Circle, I happened to catch my reflection in the window of the D train carrying me back to my mother's house in Brooklyn. The hour I'd spent with SuperMax had been all for naught, and I was horrified to note that my hair had morphed into something resembling a Jewfro. I was at the Jack's Barbershop on Brighton Beach Avenue at 9:00 AM the following day, where Jack enjoyed himself immensely as he clipped, then cut, then sheared my hair down to a close cropped buzz. When I next appeared, my friends ragged on my new look, sarcastically calling me Lou Reed. I took it as a compliment.

A bout of mononucleosis that winter took care of the baby fat, and in a couple of years, contact lenses would replace the gold-rimmed aviator glasses. The flower-sprigged shirt still resides in the back of my closet. The fabric has faded and yellowed, and it now resembles some remnant of wallpaper as one might find in an old deserted whorehouse. Tim attempted to try it on some time ago, but stopped when his muscles threatened to burst the seams and shred the fabric. I hadn't realized I was such a waif.

The Gillette Supermax rests on the top shelf of my closet in all it's orange glory; a triumph of early 70's design and a failure in every other way.

I've never understood people who claim their High School years were the best years of their lives. Mine were hell. I look at this picture and all I can see is a young boy who is just about busting to get out of the life he's been living and get on with another; any other. I sort of want to pat him on the head, and tell him to take it easy... that things will work out alright in the end.

He would have decked me.


Blogger evilganome said...

You were one year ahead of me in school but, hair, check, coveralls, check, harness boots check. The only remnant of the hell that was high school I have left is my high school ring which I thought I lost years ago, but turned up in a box of junk recently. It still fits. As a pinky ring.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Kel-Bell said...

The only thing about high school that I wish I could get back was my swell body. I gained 100 lbs when I got married and I can't seem to lose it and get back to my teenage weight... I'm only 25 years old!! I wouldn't give up my great rack though, that's for sure. I'm a lot cooler now than I was back then, so that's a plus I suppose!

11:01 AM  
Blogger Nate The Great said...

Eh high school sucked, so far, I've found that as I age life gets better. I do miss the sense of newness and unlimited possibilities that was my first couple years at college, but other than that, I'm looking forward, not back. My high school pic is BAD, imagine a Mohican hair cut, plaid short and a t-shirt. Good stuff.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous ralph said...

I graduated same year as you, and yes, high school was hell. Catholic high for 3 years (St. Francis Prep) followed by 1 year of public (William Cullen Bryant). Learned more in 1 year of public than 3 of Catholic, although I got a great pharmacological education at Prep. I was a drug addled nerd who never fit in with any of the cliques (not even the addled one).I never graduated or got a year book as I was condemned to summer school for aiding a small brained fellow student on a final exam. Dope copied everything word for word. But, good riddance to then, 'cause as bad as things got over the next years they were always better than high school.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Foxy said...

I was still a star in the sky...

I don't think a big percentage of gays call high school "the best years". I think it's college for them, nowadays.

Me...I'm still waiting for the best days of my life.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Hehehehehe. I graduated in '73 so I can relate to the styles and such. But I can't believe you still have that shirt and hair dryer. My God, you're a pack rat LOL. I've lived in too many places in this world to have held on to all of that stuff. That's cool though!

8:43 PM  
Blogger circleinasquare said...

I will give you $100 for the shirt,
if it fits me.

I already have the boots...

9:22 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

This might jog some memories: 1972

12:38 AM  
Blogger Maddog said...

I've yet to find a gay man who says that high school was the best years of his life. For me it was almost 10 years later long after I graduated from college and had discovered that no one really cared if I was gay. I really believe for the most part life has gotten better through the years.

3:21 PM  
Blogger lifescolorfulbrushstrokes said...

Hell...I'll give you $200 for that razor and blowdryer. Oh man...the hair style is bringing back memories. And oh boy...overalls. man how old was I?

12:32 AM  
Blogger p.alan said...

Yes, those years were hell. The only reminder I've kept is the yearbook. That is quite enough of a reminder for me. Oh... and ONE friend, too.

5:01 PM  
Blogger David said...

High school blew monkey chow.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Glenn said...

By the time I graduated high school, we had seriously high powered 1500 watt hair dryers that could crisp bacon.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Tank said...

I started high school the year you finished. I wore the overalls too, even though i'm short and they didn't work on me. My legs looked like stumps.

7:15 PM  
Blogger bigislandjeepguy said...

hahaha...i love the "crisp bacon" comment. it was either that or you could use them as leaf blowers. well, if you wanted your leaves crispy, too.

6:07 AM  

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