Was anyone else afraid of ditching school growing up? I consider myself a risk-taker and a rule bender. My relationship with rules is like a high school relationship. Mostly casual, a lot of talk, and a few scares. There’s also been drama, but for the most we’ve given each other our space.
But there was always something about ditching school that terrified me. I never understood the kids who spoke of ditching so casually. Either they had done it, or they were going to do it, and either way, it was no big deal. I would stand there trembling at the thought of someone calling out, “Hey, you there! Where are you supposed to be?”
The consequences always seemed above my capacity to handle. I never had a clear idea of what the actual consequences would be, but in every scenario it ended with facing my dad. The other stuff, whatever it was, would be horrible. Having my dad find out, and the interrogation that would follow, that would be terrifying. I imagined myself trying to explain, which is silly for two reasons.
Reason 1: He would consider nothing I would say to be a valid reason. That was predetermined.
Reason 2: I had no valid reasons.
Bonus Reason: Even if I lied, I couldn’t have thought up a reason valid enough to meet with his approval.
My dad would lead the investigation and my mom would sit silently on a chair imagining that I’m already 3 months with child. I will tell them that a friend was having a party. He’d demand to know the friend’s name. I’ll insist he doesn’t know the person. He’ll insist on the name anyway. He’ll try and figure out what sort of person this is by the sound of his name. He’ll make wild statements about the kind of person he must be by the sound of his name. I’ll give the slightest expression that his theories are based on air. He’ll focus on the fact that it’s a boy’s name. My mom will shift uneasily in her chair. That’s the first minute of the conversation.
I did ditch school a couple of times, maybe three. One of them was senior skip day. My friends kept assuring me that it was a tradition and that all the teachers knew about it and expected us to skip. Still, I was very uneasy when I left the school that day. I imagined that our car would break down and somehow it’d get to be so big a problem that I’d have to call my dad. I don’t think I unclenched my butt the entire time we were at this party in this field. I didn’t like the music much or the crowd. Also, there was lots of raunchy dancing.
There was this other time when my boyfriend, who was already out of high school, arranged to pick me up so that we can actually spend time together. My parents didn’t know about him. My heart was racing as I walked out of the school trying my damnedest to look casual and law-abiding. But he had an old school Chevy Impala, and he drove with the seat leaned all the way back like a gangsta, and the windows were rolled down… We went to his house and played Monopoly (which I hate) with his family, who apparently didn’t care that I was skipping school. It was a good time. Lots of laughs.
I don’t remember a third time, but I’m sure it must exist somewhere in the files of my repressed mind.
Either way, anytime I was skipping I would imagine that the school burned down and my parents would arrive looking for me among the living I wouldn’t be there. They would assume the worst. This is pre-cellphones. I’d show up at home later thinking everything is fine, and then I would die. Yes, I would be killed. He would kill me.
There was just so much that could happen when I wasn’t around. There was so much that was out of my control. And not only that, school was safe. If I wanted to be bad in school, I just had to sit next to my one friend who a long-term loving relationship with her boyfriend. She’d tell us every juicy bit about their sex lives. And everything I know about whether or not I have a fat or bony vagina I learned from her. I should probably do further research, except it doesn’t matter. I love myself.
I also passed notes on a regular basis. My circle or friends would pass two page long notes to each other in class. Imagine, I spend all of period 2 and a portion of 3 writing this thing, and she spends a quarter of 3rd reading it, three-quarters of 3rd, all of 4th and the start of 5th responding to it. Imagine also that there were multiple letters, notes and funny pictures being circulated and responded to. I remember saying, I’ve got to get this letter done by 4th so that I can give it to her in the hall before 5th. We learned a lot in school… about each other’s feelings. What’s with guys? How come they don’t pass notes as much?
I was also a very talkative student. I just had something to say every minute of class. Often it was to the teacher, more often it was to my friends. That all depended on the teacher and the subject, of course. Some classes I would listen. Some classes I would talk and listen. Some classes I would talk. So yeah, I was a pretty badass kid growing up. There was just something about ditching.