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Tales From The Barstool By: Clint Lien


“Closing Time"
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The Way I See It
By: Joseph C. Phillips



"The Blessing of Life"
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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

"That’s All There Is"

Most people seem to remember their teen years in tremendous detail. Even when they’ve been out of high school for twenty, thirty, even forty years, most still remain friends with former classmates, at least a best friend or two; they might keep in touch with many others. Certainly, they’ve gone to the reunions, kept up with who got married and who had children, grandchildren…..something. It seems like everyone I know has tons of photos of their teenage years to pore over when they’re in the mood, and everyone I know still has someone in their life from high school.

High school for me only happens in my dreams. Now that doesn’t mean that I can’t name and describe in detail my “group” of best friends, because I can. June Austin, Ellen Kniffen, Sue Hall and Barbara Waldron. And I remember exactly what they looked like. June was a classically pretty brunette and very all-American girlish. She had the best parents; her mother always called her “sweetie” which I somehow envied. She was the refined one. Ellen was the smart one; she and I had that in common. She had very curly hair, almost kinky, which was a distinct problem in those days, but she was still considered cool. Her father was very ill with emphysema; we didn’t have any concept of emphysema back then except that it meant Ellen’s Mom had to work because her Dad was stuck in a chair next to his oxygen.

Then there was Sue Hall. She was an adorable blonde, about my height and she had the best figure-what we’d call a sexy little body today, but back then it was just a good figure (as distinguished from a slutty figure, which applied to anyone who flaunted their natural endowments.) Her parents were extremely strict. She had a set of rules she lived by that seemed brutal to the rest of us, but for all I know were what I’d consider good discipline today. She was very popular with the boys, not something her parents were at all pleased about. And finally, there was Barbara Waldron. She was the tallest (although not necessarily by today’s standards) and very beautiful. She and I had the best hair for teasing; when I look at the yearbook pictures it appears as if we both were wearing blonde or black (depending on the year) helmets, but at the time our teased hair was something to be proud of. Barbara was the different one because her parents were divorced, almost unheard of in the early sixties. And, her mother worked for the airlines–she’d actually been a stewardess in the past–which made her seem unbearably glamorous to the rest of us.

It’s just that that’s all there is. I can’t remember a single specific day. Worse, I have no idea what happened to these girls with whom I spent every waking moment for three years of my life. These girls with whom I shared my adolescent dreams, my deepest secrets, my laughter and my tears, have all disappeared, except in my dreams. But for my high school yearbooks, I haven’t a single photo of any of them. In fact, I don’t have a single photo of myself from the time I was twelve–in the poodle skirt sitting next to my dog Dutchess–and the time I attended my college prom. I once asked my mother how this was possible. Obviously, cameras HAD been invented! Why did we have dozens of pictures of me as a baby, and maybe a few more as a young child, and then…….nothing. Why did the picture-taking stop, leaving no evidence at all of my adolescence, as though it had never happened. She never really could give me an answer, although we both supposed it might have had something to do with my father’s lessening interest in family life and the capturing of its images. When I asked why she hadn’t taken any pictures she said, “I could never have figured out how to use one of those things,” which, if you knew my mother, made perfect sense.

There must be something about the fact that there are no images, no communication, no reunions, no other memories of all that time that haunts me to this day; why else would my dreams be replete with June, Sue, Ellen and Barbara? No matter what the situation, time frame, real or imaginary people involved, one or all of them manages somehow to invade my dreams. As though they still wanted a voice, still had something left to tell me. Or maybe it’s me that craves the connection-maybe I need that part of my life that’s been erased to remain alive.

How fortunate are those who have video now, digital photos that will live on and on. How fortunate my own children, for whom there are boxes of photos to document their every year, every friend, their ball games, theater performances, prom nights, graduations. Does all that make it easier for them to remember, or is it simply the fact that they’ve kept in touch with their high school friends? It’s probably a bit of both. But for me, a picture of me hanging out at the beach with the girls, attending a high school dance, posing with Barbara in our “helmets” and smiling into the camera; they would all be treasures. They would be proof that it all really happened. Now, I have only my dreams.

Send me your opinions at LParis@netlistings.com

 
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