Miscellaneous · Personals

In High School, I Smoked Cigarrettes

Carlo "Big Blow" Vasquez
Carlo “Big Blow” Vasquez’s finest ID card (taken Junior year).

A couple of days ago, I graduated. I walked across a stage, shook the hand of the dean and principal who’ve I spent plenty of time with over the last four years, and took a picture in front of a camera with my diploma. It was a cool experience. Although I’ve spent days and days in their offices getting brutally lectured for doing stupid shit all of the time, having them acknowledge my time here at the school and hand me a diploma meant a lot. They easily could have chosen to not let me walk this year, but they did and quite frankly I’m grateful. It’s been a good four years and I’m ready to move on to something larger.

High school was, more or less, an age of experimenting. Nothing was ever focused and it was all a mess, but I’ve spent the last four years jumping from place to place doing plenty I thought I’d never do. I tried new things, from working with the homeless to getting insanely high off my ass, and while of course I haven’t figured out everything, I’ve found plenty that I would love to try in and after college. Sure, there were some less than fun moments (read: four years worth of Vicoden and vodka-laced vomit flowing endlessly onto a Safeway register), but even the most disastrous of nights turned into the best of stories to share. I can think of few days where my time was wasted.

High school was never the mundane, neat life of just studying and AP testing that I had planned out before in middle school and I’d take the cliff-jumping, tobacco-smoking, shot-dropping experience I had any day. I had far more fun and learned much more engaging teachers and classmates as actual people instead of resources and I’m glad that I decided to try new things and start engaging people a personal level. While there was studying, it wasn’t everything and I’m glad school didn’t go down that way. I had friends who spent their four years doing nothing else but studying and staying at home, but have no clue about what they want to do in the future or about what they spent their last four years doing. I’m not like this, and I’m glad I didn’t piss away four years of my life by being the same.

I can’t say there’s anything I’ll remember until the end of time without talking out of my ass, but for now I can pull out more than enough memories worth sharing. I remember finding the school’s masterkey, eating lunch on the roof with the guys, and breaking into the school at night to rearrange everything Hornback’s class. I remember spliffing joints by the river, the barely coherent conversations at the parties I attended, and having to restore Dessy’s house after the inglorious Project Dess. And I also remember volunteering at retirement homes, running naked through a skate park in the dead of night, and our pre-final exam ritual, smoking a pack cigarettes with the entire class in Ancil Hoffman Park. And there’s much more. There was always plenty of hard work, sure, but for all the people who got out of their comfort zones there was chance to let loose and let it all hang out. It was never all fun, but I regret nothing.

I’ve written before that with the exception of few, more than enough anime series tend to be too idyllic and essentialized to learn anything useful from them and this especially true for those set in high school: I can think of very few series which emulate what it’s like to be teenager in high school. High school is less awkward glances across a classroom and more awkward dates; less “have your arm broken by your dad and cry about basketball” and more “have your ACL taken the fuck out in the first 30 seconds of a rugby game.” KareKano is one of few which reminds me of high school, from the after-school cigarettes all the way down to the awkward sex, but I can count on few others to do the same . Though I don’t hold anything against shows which sugarcoat or dodge the high school experience, I would love to see more with teenagers being actual teenagers, cigarettes included.

I'm glad I quit though. Smoking's a pain in the ass.
I’m glad I quit cigarettes though, smoking is a pain in the ass.

3 thoughts on “In High School, I Smoked Cigarrettes

  1. “I would love to see more with teenagers being actual teenagers, cigarettes included.”

    Care for me to rec you some? I’d start with Beck – Mongolian Chop Squad and Paradise Kiss. Both were the products of Osamu Kobayashi, a director/creator whose style evokes an earthy, lived-in quality that lends a ton of realism to the story that puts to shame most “realistic” anime.

    1. Very interesting. Kobayashi’s art style has always stood out to me ever since he did the controversial episode 4 of Gurren Lagann and Beck in particular has always been on my watchlist because of it’s notable reverence towards rock music. I’ll definitely be checking these two out and recs from you are always appreciated, man.

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