years ago tonight, I stood in the middle of a stage -- in front of my
parents and my grandparents and my boyfriend and my teachers and 365
classmates and several hundred assorted onlookers and well-wishers and
total strangers -- and tremblingly accepted my high school diploma.
trembling because of stage fright, or uncertainty about the future, or
deeply-felt emotion about closing books and long last looks, my friend
I wasn't trembling in relief that I was even managing to GRADUATE in
the first place (see: amazing
1.3 GPA!!) ...
because I was wearing a pair of stoopid, ugly, ludicrously-trendy,
ridiculously-expensive, incredibly uncomfortable four-inch white
I looked and felt like I had a small Frigidaire strapped to each foot.
stood there shaking hands with the principal, I was already dreading
the descent back down those narrow steps at the front of the stage. I
was positive that I was going to trip and wind up taking a nosedive
(thereby inventing the concept of 'diving into the mosh pit,' about a
year ahead of schedule), in front of my parents and my grandparents
and and my boyfriend and my teachers and all 365 of my fellow
classmates and several hundred onlookers and well-wishers and total
that, as far as I was concerned, would pretty much be the cherry on the
ice cream sundae of my high school *career.*
I tell you? It was 1976. The shoes -- along with a lot of other stuff
that makes me cringe in retrospect -- seemed like a good idea at the
sadly ... no *photographic evidence* exists of the
four-inch white platform heels.
but here's the boyfriend and me...
from the waist up.
Oddly, graduation is one of very few landmark events of my life that doesn't
feel like it happened "just yesterday."
to ride a bike? Feels like it happened just yesterday. My
first wedding? Just yesterday. Birthing the Tots? Just yesterday.
Falling in love with David and moving to California? Just yesterday. The
best damn chicken salad sandwich I've ever had in my entire life? Just
(Actually, that one WAS just
school in general -- and graduation night specifically -- feel like
they took place in another lifetime altogether. I look at this photo of
eighteen-year-old Secra ... in her *urine yellow* graduation gown, her
face all bright and shiny, standing next to her cute boyfriend ... and
I have no memory of what she was thinking that night.
take a guess, though.
probably worried about her hair, for one thing. It's a
typically overcast, drizzly June evening in Seattle, and from the
looks of things the Adorn *Super-Typhoon-Strength* Extra-Hold has
already given out. She's probably worried that the top of her hair is
too "flat," and that the bottom of her hair is too "straight," and that
her hair in general is too long, and too greasy, and too reddish, and
too-this and too-that and too-the-other-thing ... and if she could
only figure out some way to get it to look more like Jodel Darchuck's
hair -- blonde, smooth, glossy, with those perfectly-flipped Farrah
"wings" on the side -- her life would be whole lots better than it is.
probably worried, too, about her parents.
This is the first
time that eighteen-year-old Secra can ever remember seeing her mother
and her father together in the same room at the same time. And even
Highline Community College Auditorium is a pretty big place, she's
concerned that it's not big ENOUGH. How are divorced parents supposed
to behave around each other, anyway? Especially at a momentous occasion
like their daughter's high school graduation?
there be an emergency aid crew standing nearby, just in case?
Eighteen-year-old Secra doesn't have a clue.
secra's mom [screeching]: 'yes there is! yes there
*i* have a photo of the stoopid, ugly,
four-inch white platform heels! anybody want to
got her nice new boyfriend standing next to her ... but
she's probably scanning the crowd, wondering if The
Ex-Boyfriend From Hell is lurking somewhere in the back of the
auditorium. She hopes that he is. She hopes that he's here, and that
he's alone, and that he can see how great she looks
tonight, and how happy she is with her fabulous new boyfriend, and how
she's getting on with her life without him ... and she hopes that he's
eating his two-timing, promise-breaking, lying lowlife scum-sucking
dick-for-brains dysfunctional piece of shit heart
-- of course -- she hopes that he calls her again someday.)
is undoubtedly wondering where the best after-graduation parties are
going to be ... and how much longer it will be until she's
holding a nice big Dixie cup [or ten]
full of warm beer, right out of the keg.
from the *rosy glow* on her face, I suspect that she's already
dipped into Dad's hidden bottle of Jack Daniels. Or else she and The
Nice Boyfriend have talked his grandmother into buying them a half-case
of beer, and they've had a little pre-graduation parking lot
*party* of their own.
"party" won't end until 22 years later, when she stands in the
kitchen of her dinky apartment in Oregon City and weepily empties that last
bottle of Mountain Chablis down the sink. But that's another story for
I'm absolutely certain that she's counting the minutes until
she can climb into her boyfriend's Camaro, pop the Dreamboat Annie tape
into the eight-track, toss the *urine-yellow* graduation gown into the
backseat (and the diploma out the WINDOW) ...
and kick off the stoopid, ugly, ludicrously-trendy,
ridiculously-expensive, incredibly uncomfortable shoes.
amazing? The more some things change ... the more other things don't
change at all.