I was cool once, and I have proof.
Evidently, I was also good at math, could hold my own in a fight, was a good tackler and always said “Hi” to the prettiest girl in school.
The odd thing is, I don’t remember being cool, being good at math or being a good fighter, but it’s right there in black and white in my 1979 Everman Junior High yearbook.
I do recall being a good tackler and flirting with the prettiest girl in school any chance I got. I’ve always loved football, and the shyness gene bypassed me.
I grew up in Tennessee and only went to public school in Texas for one year – moving to Everman (about 15 minutes from Fort Worth) and attending Everman Junior High in the seventh grade.
I moved back to Tennessee after that one year in Everman, and in the 42 years since I haven’t seen or heard from any of my seventh grade classmates.
Until this week.
While doing some de-cluttering around the house, I stumbled upon my seventh-grade yearbook. To be honest, that wasn’t the best year of my life, so I don’t know why I even purchased a yearbook. Not sure why I spent time looking back through it either, but I’m glad I did.
Ronnie called me one of his best friends. Steve said I was nice, and we would be friends forever, and Chris thanked me for being nice to him all year. Renee said I was nice, and she hoped to see me the next year.
She also wished me luck with the girls.
Beth said I was nice and was a smart math student, and Mrs. McCarthy – my math teacher – said I was one of the best students she’d had. She also thanked me for all of my cooperation and after school help.
Full disclosure here. I had a huge crush on Mrs. McCarthy. Plus, my mom and brothers all had jobs, so my options were going home to an empty house or sticking around school for an extra hour each day helping the prettiest teacher at Everman Junior High.
Evidently, I became a good math student through osmosis.
Brenda said I was a nice boy, and she signed her yearbook note “Brenda…better known as Moose.” I honestly don’t remember calling anyone – especially a girl — Moose during my year at that school. Maybe that’s why she said I was nice.
Mike said I was a good tackler, but Bill said I hit too hard. I think Bill must have been a quarterback. They always whine.
Kevin said I was a good fighter, although I can’t imagine why.
Early in the year, three of the eighth grade bullies decided they needed to make sure the new guy was clear on who was in charge so they surrounded me at my locker one day and began shoving me.
To quote comedian Ron White, I didn’t know how many of them it would take to whip my tail, but I knew how many they were going to use. I decided to fight back anyway rather than being bullied, and the results weren’t pretty.
Evidently, Kevin was impressed with the damage my face did to their fists. I don’t think the bullies were impressed, but they left me alone for the rest of the year.
Was I really cool, though?
According to Kenneth, Robby, Ronnie, Dewayne, Jon, Tammie, Michelle, Rodney, Donald and Doug, I was. Heck, Doug, who called himself “Dr. Cool,” predicted I would be cool all my life.
I don’t know how a seventh grader found the time to get his doctorate in coolness, and I don’t know if I lived up to his expectations, but it was nice of him to say.
Looking through that yearbook left me wondering whatever happened to Mrs. McCarthy and to all of the kids who thought I was nice or cool, the pretty girl I always said “Hi” to and the girl everyone else called “Moose.”
I hope they’ve all had wonderful lives.
Heck, I even hope the bullies I tangled with in the hall that day eventually quit being knuckleheads and became productive citizens.
That would really be cool.