high school outcasts 10-oct-1997  

     I've always been an odd egg, I suppose. The square peg in the round hole. The stereotype breaker. The one who never quite fit the mould.

     Looking the way I do, I seem to attract a lot of trouble, and I've never quite understood why. Prejudice is, unfortunately, still alive and kicking in most parts of this country. A lot of people, no matter what I say or do, still think of me as a "pinko Communist hippy faggot," and that I'll "never amount to anything."
     And damned if I'll ever be allowed to have any opinion about anything! Somebody who looks like me just can't have an opinion or else they'll get totally run over, something about "you ain't gotta work for a living, just shut the fuck up." Considering my resume, they should talk.
     It would be out of character of me to form haphazard opinions about things without having some semblance of the facts. When I voice an opinion, I've most always got some sort of first-hand knowledge about what I'm saying. I'll have some form of factual information to pass on as to why I made my decision one way or another. For politics and such, I seldom trust the media, opting insted to actually watch the court cases, public addresses and open legislation on television. And if I don't have my facts straight, I usually keep my opinions to myself.
     I do my best to avoid the pissing contests that so many seem to get into, and for reasons beyond my comprehension, this unnerves some people to no end. "You think you're smart, don't you?"

     I've never understood it. I was watching the news today and came across CNN's show, TalkBack Live. They were discussing a young teen who went on recent murder spree at his Pearl, Mississippi high school.

     It's depressing.

     Yes, the spree, itself, was bad enough. But even more depressing were the majority of questions and responses people were asking and giving. Even most of the Internet users on their chat site that day were rolling out these asinine arguments...

     People were talking about "outcasts" in high school. You know, those kids everybody picked on and gave Hell simply because they were quiet... The ones who were usually good students, but maybe didn't fit in all that well with the other more trendy kids. You might even have been one, yourself.
     They couldn't hang with the Jocks, as they were much too "cool." Couldn't hang with the Preps, because they ridiculed the outcasts for being too quiet, and nobody that quiet could have anything intelligent to say. Either that, or the outcasts weren't interested in their trendy fashions or BMWs. Couldn't hang with the geeks because they were... well... geeks (funny how that works, isn't it?). Couldn't hang with the Hoods because they were much too busy smoking parsley and pretending to drop acid, consequently lying about the monsters chasing them when they were supposedly "so high" the night before. And definitely, they couldn't hang with the ass-kissers. The ass-kissers didn't like the outcasts because they didn't have anything to say, one way or the other, about the Teachers or administration.
     An outcast's life basically consisted of dragging themselves into every class and doing what was expected of them... no more, and no less. Some of the teachers even hated them for it. If these outcast kids didn't have any thoughts or opinions about anything, and usually stayed quiet, then they must be trouble makers who just aren't getting caught, or at least that what I always heard. "Sneaks!" Mrs. Abbott would call us.
     She hated outcasts. She was very much a bitch.

     Gym class was always before lunch when I was in high school. The outcasts would always be late dressing out because they weren't too excited about getting naked in front of the other kids. They were ridiculed so harshly that sometimes they would skip dressing out altogether and opt to stay in the principal's office rather than deal with the hazing, fighting and abuse that the Jocks and Preps would most assuredly start.
     I remember how they took Bobby Fuller's clothes and locked him, naked, inside the security cage. All of his clothes went up on the flagpole that day, and only some of them came back down. Just imagine, getting all of your clothes ripped off of you by a gang of pubescent assholes. Now imagine having to endure that kind of treatment every day of Gym class. Where were the Coaches, you ask? Oh, they'd just laugh, and let it continue. It wasn't their job to be parents, was it?

     At lunch, there was no place to sit. The outcasts would usually end up huddled together at the cafeteria door, waiting for a table to open up. That almost never happened, and when it did, some Jock or Prep would most certainly come by and flip the lunch trays into the laps of one of the unsuspecting kids.

     Such was the life of the outcast. With all that, it's pretty easy to imagine that outcasts found it all but impossible to get dates. If they even showed up at a school dance, they sat along the walls, either in fear for their safety, or for the simple that "Nobody wants to talk to an outcast!"
     And with that kind of shit going on, of course everybody called you "faggot" every time they saw you. There was so much pressure in high school to have a date, have a steady girlfriend... have sex... and you never wanted to hear that chanting that would go on... Virgin! Virgin! Virgin! ... Whether it were true, or not.

     I got the impression today that most of the CNN audience members and the people who were on the Internet site really had no idea what the Hell being an outcast was like. Some of their comments were just as cruel as those kids who used to beat the shit out of them and lock them into cramped lockers at the end of fifth period.
     "If they can't fit in, then they don't deserve school!" some of them would mock.
     "Just accidents waiting to happen," others would say.
     It didn't even have anything to do with any of that. It wasn't any outcast kid's fault that he got picked on. It just happened.
     And if I'm honest about the way people have changed since then, those little mob psychology bastards when I was in school wouldn't begin to hold a candle to the types that are out there now, would they? I mean, I'm sure they still have Jocks, Geeks, Preps and Hoods in high school.
     Back then, they all stuck together. The outcasts had no intention of involving themselves with the organized, gang-mentality garbage that those groups had to offer, and I can't say that I blame them.
     Most everyone will admit that kids can be damn cruel. High schoolers? I'm quite sure they're the worst.

     It was surprising to me that these audience members could be so divided on the punishment for the Pearl school kid. They could never decide on whether or not he should be tried as an adult.
     Some of them even felt sorry for him, but not for being an outcast and having to put up with that sort of daily pressure. No, they were sorry that "his mental condition" had "deteriorated" to this point and that nobody had noticed.
     People were there to gallivant their misinformed political ideas about the generation difference or capital punishment... but nobody would say what the problem really was. They had no clue about what being an outcast was like. From the sound, every single audience member had been part of the "in" crowd when they were in school, and that thought is simply ludicrous.

     This kid, whether you want to feel sorry for his being an outcast or not, walked into his school with a Winchester Model 94 30-30 and shot six kids. He killed two of them, one of them being the girlfriend who had just dumped him.
     Now here's where the "outcast" in me comes out --- He tried to kill over all that crap going on. Sorry, if you don't believe in capital punishment. If you don't, then you've probably never had anybody close to you be killed, either.
     I can say from experience, when you get dragged into that sort of situation, you don't feel sorry for the murderer. Wrong or right, you want them to die.
     Once that's done, let's take a look at why it happened and make a go at changing it, eh? And point out the case in specific, what pushed this kid to go so far...

     I became an outcast when I was nine. High school was Hell. But even through all that, I never got locked naked in the security cage. I would at least attempt to, if not, beat the shit out of every single person who even looked like they might touch me. It didn't take long for them to become sneaky and start slashing my tires or super-gluing my lockers shut or blindsiding me as I sat in home room doing last minute homework.

     Yes, I was an outcast, but I think turned out a hell of lot better than the other kids I went to school with. All of that bother forced me to be a stronger person with some sense of a backbone, and a rather steadfast sense of right and wrong.

     Bobby Fuller killed himself shortly before graduation. It was quiet. They never even mentioned him during the graduation ceremonies. Nobody showed up at his memorial service. But oh, how they all cried for the do-no-wrong athlete in the class who died of a drug overdose...
     Bobby was so smart... a genius, really. He wasn't much for computers (they were so new), but he had a penchant for engineering and problem solving. He would've made a name for himself, made his mark in the world. He would have been successful... you could see it in him, so calm and calculated with everything that he did.

     And what of the ones who beat the shit out of him every day of his life, and told him he was nothing? Oh, most of them are now on their second and third marriages, with too many children and too much alimony and child support to pay out every month. A lot have minimum wage jobs in fast food or Wal-Mart to keep their incomes low so they can cheat their ex-wives and children out of the money they may very well deserve. They're driving the same cars they had in high school. They can't hold it together much longer. Desperate.
     Very few of them went on to college, and most of the ones who did go received a degree that would only qualify them to make a little more than minimum wage. One of them flunked out of his Football scholarship and got a job a bouncer in a sports bar.
     All their bitterness, still carrying around the same petty, adolescent hatreds they had back then... when a group of them would hold me down on the floor while another stood, with all of their weight, on the side of my head... No surprise that several became police officers... so little change...

     I like to think they were cursed.

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 updated: 4-dec-2000 copyright © mark steel publishing ltd.