Monday, June 13, 2005

As a sequel to my "Do you remember what you were doing years ago" post, I was planning on picking a random day from high school and writing about it for each of this week's updates. As luck would have it, June 13, 1996 was the day I graduated from high school, aptly illustrated in the photo to the left (which includes the college-age sister too embarrassed to get any closer to the family, but does not include my dad who mistakenly stood on the wrong side of the camera too often to get into many pictures).

At T.C. Williams High School, a 4.0 is the numeric equivalent of a straight-A student, but taking Advanced Placement courses gave you a bonus 0.5 which could ostensibly push you higher than the maximum. Because of this zany take on mathematics, I was ranked #1 in my class of about five-hundred. There were about fifty of us in the #1 slot, which let us all look good on college applications. In actuality, I was about 21 of the 50, and probably several hundredths of a point away from the top, since taking dumb-people classes like Music Theory, Band, Jazz Band, and Art inevitably lowered your average. This tidbit has no real bearing on the day, except that I didn't have to give a ridiculous speech and I had to show up a half hour early so they could herd all the smart cattle to the front of the line.

While waiting for the processional to begin, my wild-eyed physics teacher, Dr. Patel, warned me that ceremonies were garbage, graduations didn't mean anything, and most of the surrounding chipmunks were not going to go far in the world.

We walked out onto the football field in our teacher-chaperoned "pairs of two", possibly a symbol of educational redundancy, and sat down. Underneath my gown I had a bottle of water, three rolls of Spree, and a deck of cards, but no Bingo scoresheets . These helped to pass the time through interminable speeches and families who insisted on cheering for their underachievers despite the principal's constant pleas to hold the applause until the end. The Air-Force-bound, meteorologic physicist genius, Ada Holland, (who retook the SATs to get from 1560 to 1600 or something) gave the Salutatorian speech about heroes and Superman. This was followed by the Valedictorian speech of Ruth whose GPA was statistically insignificantly higher (by taking fewer classes) and who I haven't heard from since (she may be out back smoking crack with Zulfan). Her speech mentioned Star Wars a lot, with a few random spewings of nonsensical magma about heroes. I guess the theme of the graduation was heroes.

The graduation was followed by a minor party at home with my uncle, grandfather, and the kids of our family babysitter twelve years earlier. This party was followed by two more, one at Hilda's which I momentarily loitered at, and one at Mike Buns' which I skipped altogether. The night was punctuated by the All-Night Grad Party, designed by the PTA to keep the newly graduated hooligans away from drugs and alcohol (omitting, for a moment, the fact that a good 94.3% of the population from G.W. Junior High, the feeder school for the rich yuppies of Alexandria, were deep into substance abuse before their junior year at T.C.) The only notable events of the night were a sumo-fat-suit booth, a bungee corridor where you tried to run as far as possible before slingshotting backwards, and a blackjack table where I won $10,000 in funny money. I subsequently traded the funny money for a clock-radio which got regifted several years later at a random party.

And when the party was over, it was no longer June 13, 1996.

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