I learned quickly that you don't want to stand out in High School as a Sophomore. Our Seniors had a tradition of "pushing pennies." They'd drop a penny on the floor of our 108 year old High School, and you'd have to push it with your nose until they were satisfied. (this "tradition" was outlawed my senior year...along with hats, bandanas, and skipping class more than 3 times before you'd receive a failing grade in that class...grrrr)
Wallflowers generally weren't picked to "push a penny." They liked to pick on a different breed. Perhaps you were too loud, way too nerdy, or just got in their way.
Keep your head down, don't walk through their hall too often, and you were OK.
I was a little kid in 10th grade. I was a late bloomer, fresh into puberty. Perhaps 5'6". Maybe 125 pounds. I truly had the fear that I'd get stuffed in my locker at any time. Not a completely enjoyable time in my life.
My Biology class was in a separate building from the main campus. You had to walk a short distance through "blue collar wasteland" to get to the building. Along the way, you'd pass the auto shop gang, photography pack, and then finally you'd wade through the blur of the FFA crew.
They'd all park their pickup trucks along the building and just hang out all day. Did they have class? Who knows.
All I know, is that besides wading through old Skoal spit, you needed to watch out for these shit-kickers. They generally weren't a friendly bunch.
One snowy afternoon, I was walking along with a bunch of people to the AG building. (where my biology class was located) I assumed the head-down, eyes averted position. Unfortunately, this was not my lucky day.
Why me?? Who knows. Perhaps it was because I looked like Paul from the wonder years. Perhaps it was apparent in my brisk walk that I wanted nothing to do with these cowpunchers.
Whatever it was, the end result was a snowball in the gut.
Cowboy #1 in the Ford F150: What are you looking at?
Me: (I was truly looking at the ground) Nothing.
Cowboy #2 leaning on his Subaru Brat: Were you looking at his girl?
Me: (Frantically planning my escape route) No.
Cowboy #1's girlfriend wearing pants far too tight for any human being: You looking at me?
Me: (Contemplating dropping my backpack to get a fast start) No.
Cowboy #1: What's your problem? First you're looking at her, now you think she's ugly?
Me: (Wondering how his logic brought him to this conclusion) No...I'm just going to class.
I noticed now that the group of people that were walking near me had all entered the building, and I was all alone.
It was then that the fight or flight gene took over.
Amid yells of "we're waiting for you to get out of class, and then kicking your ass," and a hail-storm of snowballs, I reached the door in relative safety.
I was safe...or so I thought.
My hand reached my pocket for the note. It was from my mom, and gave me permission to leave this class early in order to make it to an orthodontist appointment. My mom was going to be waiting in the front of the school in 15 minutes.
My heart raced. Do I skip the appointment? Cell phones were still larger than a loaf of bread at this time, so I couldn't call her. I had to meet my mom in the front of the school or they'd send
"school officials" looking for me. That would look REALLY cool to be escorted out by the Vice-Principal.
I gave the note to the teacher, and walked out of his classroom. His room bordered the Wood shop, and behind the building were unused animal pens. There truly was only 1 entrance/exit to this building.
I crept towards the exit door, and my fears were confirmed. The parking lot was still riddled with sheep-bangers, and I had to pass right by them. My mind raced as I thought of another option. I considered getting the teacher, and having him talk to the bullies. I'm sure that would go over well with my peers. What kid with a teacher body-guard wouldn't be a target in the future?
So, I decided to look for another exit.
There were big dual doors that led outside. These must have been to get equipment into the wood shop. Unfortunately, these were padlocked.
Time was ticking by. I had to be out front in 5 minutes.
So I pushed further into the beast.
This building was only 1 level, but I noticed a catwalk around the perimeter of a large room that housed equipment.
And then my inner Axel Foley took over. (Jack Bauer hadn't been invented yet)
I found an emergency ladder that led to the catwalk. I pushed a table over to reach it.
Walking the catwalk, I found a group of windows that led outside. Luckily, I was able to get one open. Once open, I found another stumbling block. The windows opened up directly to a 20 foot drop. My only chance of escape was a 6 inch ledge under the windows that went around the perimeter of the building.
I took a step into the cold winter air, and onto the ledge. I didn't know where I was going, but realized that I couldn't stop.
After side-stepping the ledge for about 20 feet, I made my way to the corner of the building. My hands burned as I held fast onto the cracks of the bricks. I could see freedom. Unfortunately, it was a 20 foot drop until I was home free.
I did have one option. After turning the corner on the ledge, a parking lot bordered this side of the building.
Salvation waited in the form of a 1988 Ford Mustang GT 5.0.
Knowing that my mom was waiting out front, I decided to act. I jumped....and landed feet-first onto the hood of the cherry red mustang.
I did a movie-like roll onto the snow-covered ground, and felt fine. No broken bones. I channeled my inner Carl Lewis, and sprinted to the front of the school, leaving those Cow-douches behind.
Luckily, they seemed to forget the earlier encounter for the rest of that semester. My wall-flower status was once again reinstated.
I'd like to say that the Mustang looked no worse for wear....but I can't. I just hope that whomever was the owner of the car wasn't too upset, as he'd saved the life of a young boy.
The next week, our teacher mentioned that someone had been spotted climbing on the side of the building by another teacher the previous week. He warned us of the danger, and said that the student had not been identified. They'd never suspect a wallflower.