High School Didn't Define Me (or Did It?)

Why is it that high school is such a defining age for so many of us?  Recently a comment on a my Facebook page by a former classmate made me re-question who I was then (and now). Sometimes the image we have for ourselves is not always the way other's perceive us.  

I have no delusions that I was a great person, then. I wasn't. I tried really hard to be accommodating to all the different types of people and cliques that existed in our slightly backwards rural high school. But even as I thought I floated in and out of all the groups of people, there were some that annoyed me, or others that I (unfortunately) joined in the mockery of.  In retrospect, I think I was a typical male high school student.  

A typical student tries to do the right thing, tries to be a good student, tries to follow the rules, but can be manipulated by peers into being an idiot.  Yet even with a few acts of idiocy, I still had  many memorable moments. 

As I get ready to go back to school and teach this ever changing (but not really) age group, I thought I would recall some of my highlights/lowlights/ and things not done (but should've).  

I actually hate myself a little, looking at this.  I know
I was going after cheesy, but it looks like a DB now.   
* Writing for the Falcon Flashes.  Taking journalism at Elmira High School gave me more skills and understanding of the real world than any other class. Deadlines, teamwork, quality vs. quantity, interviewing (listening skills), creativity, producing, etc.  I'm sure many of these same qualities come from theatre, art, woodshop, metals, etc.  But our budget crunched school had limited offerings, and the few of us who created the newspaper thought we were the movers and shakers of our school.  Some mistakes I made: We needed a sports filler article about the boys golf team and I was a member of the golf team (more on that later). Because I wrote the article in one evening, it wasn't good. And I made up quotes from my friends (rather than call them). I attributed this quote to my friend Steve Q: "We were hitting balls all over the place, we were hitting trees, we were hitting houses, everything but the green. We sucked."  And because my brain's frontal cortex wasn't fully myelinated, I quoted myself. I don't remember what I said, but I thought it would be funny to quote myself in an article I wrote. It wasn't.  The class agreed.  The other article mistake I made was when I wrote an opinion piece about our redneck school having a problem with "wanna-be gangsters." A school so backwoods that the preps thought wearing Guess jeans in 1996 was still fashionable had suddenly (because of tax dollars) started importing and busing expelled kids from Eugene/Springfield. I said something like, "All you wanna-be's who think this is South Central L.A., better look around, we have a forest surrounding our school: you are a hilarious joke." I nearly got jumped by fifteen hypersensitive kids in blue. One spit on my neck. They harassed me for a year (but like true wanna-be's never did anything about it).  

Examples of our humor.  

I can't even put my wallet in my back pocket,
I don't know how guys didn't get butt cramps. 
* Not abusing the chaw.  Because it was a rural school, we had more problems with chew than we did cigarettes. Many of the "popular" kids in my class were Copenhagen kids. I tried a packet of wintergreen Skoal Bandits on a dare in eighth grade and nearly barfed on the darer to teach him a lesson.  Needless to say, tobacco has never had a big draw in my life.  So when the most popular kid in my class found me in the upstairs gym watching the volleyball team practice in butt tights/sports bras (I was invited to "watch" by a member of the team), and said, "Hey Plumb. I know I've been a jerk to you at times, but I think you're kind of funny. If you wanna hang out with us {cool kids} all you have to do is take a dip."  Me: "Are you serious? Like if I suddenly start chewing, we can be buddy-buddy?"  Him: "Well, yeah, I guess."  Me: "Thanks, but no thanks dude, I thought this stuff only happened in the movies...I guess not."  He was never really nice to me after that moment, but I don't regret it AT ALL.  

* Not taking theatre.  We didn't have a theatre class. It was taught by a volunteer. Really. The teacher wasn't paid. We also had a dyslexic (almost illiterate) print shop teacher, and a woodshop/personal finance teacher who was in advanced stages of Alzheimer's, and my algebra II teacher was also my Art teacher (had no training in math).  Needless to say, my high school education didn't really prepare me well for college. (Thankfully, college wasn't too difficult either).  

Anyway, one day I skipped study hall class to visit my friend Farmer in his theatre class (okay, my girlfriend was in the same class as well). They were doing all these activities and running around in organized chaos, and it was all so foreign and...and...exciting.  Later I watched their play, The Importance of Being Ernest and was instantly jealous. We had block schedule, and I took eight classes as a senior (when I only needed .5 credit in English), and yet I didn't have room for theatre (or yearbook). Yes, I actually lament the fact that I couldn't take 10 classes my senior year.  

Keegan G, Chris Plumb, and Zach R. all snuck into this and other yearbook photo shoots. Take that EHS! 

* Being anti-sports.  I said I played golf.  I did it because all my friends went out.  For four years we had a ton of fun, and I learned practically nothing.  I still stink up the course when I go out.  Our local newspaper actually printed my 54 over par, 126, in the sports section after one unfortunate tourney. Thanks, Eugene Register Guard (to those that don't know golf, that's the equivalent of a javelin thrower accidentally impaling him or herself).  

Up until high school, I lived, breathed, dreamed, and sexually fantasized about sports. I played K-8 in both baseball and basketball, and two years of middle school football. I was always good, but not great.  And those that were great made me feel like a jerk. So by high school I looked at the guys going out for sports and thought: I hate those guys. Looking back, only a handful were your typical "jerk-jocks." And the athletic talent at my 3A school in Oregon was no where near as competitive as the schools I was competing against in Bellingham, WA. growing up.  I wouldn't have had a hard time making any of the "big 3" teams.  But I never went out. Now I play adult softball and hope some pro scout walks by and says, "Hey, man, if you were fifteen years younger and seventy pounds lighter, I might recommend you for the ball-boy of our single A affiliate." 

  --Wow...I could go on forever; maybe I'll continue this later...

Let me know your greatest high school memories or regrets.  


  1. Oh man. The things we did and/or didn't do back in the day. Incredible idea. Well done Chris, well done.

    1. Yeah...this should give you another few months of mini-moral blogs.

  2. Ha, if you'd have told me I would peak in high school, I would have wept. I too only needed two classes, but took six, including theatre, journalism and advanced show choir. Editor in Chief and Copy Editor of the newspaper, the lead in plays, solos in shows, I even wrote a novel - and it's all been downhill from there.
    And chaw? Really? Sounds like you had a very opposite high school experience from me...E and pot were the "in" drugs at my high school. Of course, I never partook - never even had a beer at a party. I was too busy living out my best years...I saved addiction for adulthood, lol. Wait, come to think of it, that's not funny. Sorry.
    I'm going to go cry in the corner, now.

    1. Oh, pot and E were in as well, I just didn't know about it. Chew was so prevalent it was almost accepted by the staff. I also didn't do any partying in school (but I did egg a house of one of my friends for having a kegger).

      I'd hardly say you "peaked" in high school, miss notorious BlogHer...