Legendary And Gifted? Well, Perhaps (tf)

I always feel bad for the “legends” of high school. Time moves on and a lot of them don’t. Or can’t. Or never figured out why they should.

I don’t blame them really. I’ve known a few of these guys and it was all good while it lasted. They were 16 or 17 and they owned the town. Girls lined up just to catch a possible roving eye. Teachers gave them hall passes for the duration. Cops gave them rides home. Crowds chanted their names. Entire walls of the school were encased in glass to show off their assorted trophies. Booze and drugs were free and adults get all starry-eyed when they talked to them. It was like being Mayor without an opposing party.

But time is good at nothing if not buggering memories. Next year a new kid hits a 3 pointer at the buzzer to win the league title, or some hotshot transfer piles up 1500 yards on his way to all-state status. Last year’s heroics dim like the light in a drunkard’s eye. A few pats on the back at the local barber shop….or some wide-eyed kids on a practice field wanting to know how it was done. But then…..not much. Some old musty VCR tapes and a well-worn Letterman’s jacket….and some whispers as to why someone who’s not a kid anymore is still dressing like one…..hanging around the stadium or the gym, waiting for someone to bring it up all over again. The next thing you know the guy who walked on water is working the check-out line at the local grocery store, 40 pounds heavier, back in his old bedroom with the same posters on the wall, and haunting the local bars with a look of weary resignation. Married to some weathered cheerleader who smokes a pack a day to stay under 180. Two kids being pushed into the gym desperate to meet Daddy’s ramped-up expectations. Maybe Daddy decided no one else could do it, so he’s coaching now. He’s gonna teach these kids what it means to win. What it takes to reach excellence and be allowed to reach up a cheerleader’s thigh in the backseat of the bus. Never mind the stares of mother’s who just want their kids to play more and “have fun”. They don’t understand. They never did. They were faceless in high school. Didn’t matter then and don’t matter now.

Don’t they know who he is?

Well, they know who he was, and this is sweet revenge for all that arrogant strutting and preening.

Thankfully I never had such issues. I was one of those goobers good enough to make the team but not good enough to play, which was fine with me since I wasn’t any good and when I did play I’d do something instantly stupid and take a vicious beating from the stands….which turned me into even more of a trembling wreck of even more jangled nerves. Legendary I was not, except perhaps in my ability to win beer-chugging contests, but this sort of thing doesn’t help get you into college. In four years of high school I don’t think I would have been noticed even if I wore a Henry Kissinger mask everyday. No obvious physical or mental defects to put me in anyone’s cross-hairs. Just painless anonymity and unfulfilled hormones.

But at least I’ve moved on.

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on June 16, 2011.

One Response to “Legendary And Gifted? Well, Perhaps (tf)”

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