Withering Glance: On high school and humiliation

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 6, 2014 - 11:24 AM

Photo: Kurt Strazdins, MCT

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Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.


CP: Six high schoolers spill out of Buca in their graduation glad-rags. Their carefree laughter fills a spring evening. Their unburdened joy. Why, then, do I mostly recall high school as Nine Circles of Humiliation?


RN: Because your adolescent nerd-caterpillar had not yet molted into your adult self’s Monarch-like fabulousness.


CP: Your flattery is the more gratifying because you dispense it so sparingly. But, going back to the main point here, I imagine you were the president of Pep Club and the volunteer chairman of Burnsville High’s annual candy drive.


RN: Yes, I was the drip who hauled boxes of near-inedible chocolate bars from chem lab to industrial arts, raising do-re-mi for the International Thespian Society.


CP: I was the guy skulking in the bushes behind the gymnasium, having a cigarette.


RN: I would have pegged you a “burn-out” and considered it social suicide to be seen speaking with you. No offense.


CP: I might have sneered at your preppy attire while secretly envying your popularity. I didn’t fit in with jocks, nerds, brains or the Lagniappe crowd. Even the burn-outs were a bit too burned out for me. Meanwhile, what gays?


RN: Exactly. As for popularity, this teenage geek spent his high school years gazing at The Beautiful People from afar, a lowly mortal regarding the denizens of Mount Olympus. Now I have to study the pages of the “Kotka” — our yearbook — to remember their names. Does that make me sound like the embittered nobody that I am?


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