Thursday, February 26, 2015
This Is Your Social Hour.
Yes, the blond, large-headed child waving with the straw in his hand is me. Despite that picture being twenty-five years old, I can still remember the exact moment, exactly what I was thinking, and yes, even what I was eating.
Beginning in kindergarten, if you purchased the school photos from that year you received a yearbook. At least I think that's how it worked. I don't think it was an add-on. Perhaps everyone was given one regardless, as I doubt every parent purchased the photos. After all, we weren't the richest school district. I loved looking at my parents old yearbooks as far back as I can remember, so naturally one that included me was extra cool.
Something that gnawed at me were those "candid" photos in the back of the book. They were seemingly random photos affixed with captions that probably came out of a "Yearbook Photo Witty Captions" book. As much as I loved them, I wanted to BE in one of them. The kindergarten yearbook wasn't a disappointment as I had no clue that they existed until then. The first grade yearbook was a different story. Young Josh KNEW that he should have made it into one of those photos. If I recall, one photo where I was just out of the frame made it that year.
That brings us to 1990. Second grade photo day. I knew how adorable I looked in my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt and blond mop of hair. I knew that the bespectacled photographer was making the rounds. Only one thing could catch me off-guard and make me forget about my ever-growing quest to make the back pages: spaghetti day.
Most kids complain about school lunches. These days, those complaints are likely warranted. But from 1st thru 6th grade, I loved the elementary school lunches. The food was good, you could buy extra, and the spaghetti with meat sauce was out-of-this-world. It wasn't overly wet or dry, but had a nice thick consistency. With your meal you had to take some sort of milk, so the first portion went down nicely with that. Once you purchased extras, all bets were off. Two extra bowls and two Turner's orange drinks was the answer to my grade-school gluttony. But on that photo day, I was just sitting down to the lunch portion when my dream came true.
As I was unwrapping my straw to plunge into the carton of milk, I saw him out of the corner of my eye. The photographer. He's actually in the Holiday Park Elementary School cafeteria. He's probably going to snap a photo of the kitchen. Wait. He's turning towards our aisle. He's kneeling down. He's raising the camera! I'm getting in this!
And there it was. I'd made it. Although I'm sure that I repeated the tale that night at home, I forgot about it for a few months until the yearbook came out. When it did, I can remember my mom reporting that other parents that she knew loved my energetic cameo. I did, too.
I have no clue what school is like today. I just wonder if any kid would even care about such a thing anymore. I can look into that photo and remember the actions and even quirks of many of those kids. Have you ever seen a school cafeteria scene on "The Simpsons?" Those segments always remind me of those days. We had our own versions of Bart, Milhouse, Lisa, Nelson, Ralph, Sherri, and Terri. Who was I? I think I had a little bit of all of them in me. For this particular photo, though, I think I created my own character. His name?