For two or three months, Daniel has been experimenting with growing his hair a little longer than his usual almost military-style cut. Today he decided he’d had enough of that. On the front porch, I plugged in the clippers and went to work (more redneck grooming).
I have been cutting Daniel’s hair all his life. His hair is curly and doesn’t show mistakes easily, so he was an easy subject to learn on. After sixteen years I have the procedure down pretty well, and recently Greg has actually consented to let me cut his hair also.
So Daniel was shorn. I was surprised by the near blackness of the curls falling to the cement patio; his hair has been darkening steadily since he was a baby.
Returning members of Greg’s class of eighty-eight graduates (a serendipitous coincidence: eighty-eight in eighty-eight) put together their float and rode in the parade, conducting themselves in a manner consistent with their high school behavior. The water bottles Greg brought along for drinking ended up being used as ammunition for Derek Collins’s water gun, which Derek used to wet down parade watchers. Partway through the parade route, the class of 88 decided to make a detour to the loop at the end of the drag which they used to cruise in their youth; so Fred Weber, at the wheel of the Suburban, hung a left, taking the float away from the rest of the parade, and confusing the class of 93, who fortunately did not follow. Greg and his classmates drove past Luling residents working peacefully in their yards, and nearly got stuck passing under a bridge. Their wanderlust fulfilled, they rejoined the parade.
I would not go back to high school. Oh, it might be fun for a day or two, if I could do some kind of fantasy back-to-the-past thing knowing everything I know now; certain bullying teachers come to mind, whom I would love to put in their places with my razor-sharp adult wit. But the culture itself, twentieth-century youth culture, does not appeal to me. Neither does the memory of my teenage self. A decade or so ago I looked through some journals kept at this time, and shuddered at the pomposity, callowness, and lack of regard for others reflected on the pages. I can only hope that I did not actually open my mouth every time I had a thought.
It’s funny how I looked at people back then—as archetypes, or characters in a story about myself. I saw them as allies, mentors, arch-nemeses, or just background characters added for realism, but never as heroes in their own stories. Now that I am grown I see that they were just people, after all, trying with varying degrees of success to realize their own particular dreams, some aspiring merely to survive high school.
I wouldn’t go back. But if I had to go back, I would do some things differently.