Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nerds, Jocks, Cool Kids, and the Bullpen

There's some cross discussion going on among a handful of political/economics blogs about a Nerd v. Jocks theory of government based on ideas of high school social classes.

It's a Marxist sort of class conflict theory, sometimes talking about two groups in conflict -- Nerds v. Jocks, sometimes talking about three groups -- Nerds v. Cool Kids in conflict with Jocks just observers.

When I was in high school I wasn't a member of any of those three groups, unlike most political/economics bloggers who seem to have all been nerds. I was part of the bullpen, the boys who hung around the area of the high school campus set aside for smokers.

Yes, Virginia, we smoked on campus when I was in high school. Different schools had different rules about smoking, but there was always some sort of designated area for smoking, even if the official rules said No Smoking. I went to 4 different high schools, in 4 cities, in 2 states, so I was never around long enough to become a member of the cool kids, and I didn't care enough about education to be a nerd nor was I athletic enough to be a jock. All you needed to be a member of the bullpen was a pack of cigarettes and a match. It was always boys, I can't remember any girls smoking in the bullpen.

My senior year was at Robert E. Lee High School in Baton Rouge. There was a very large tree away from the buildings that was called the bullpen. Between classes or during lunch or before school the delinquent types would gather under the branches of that tree and smoke (the branches were thick enough to even provide shelter during a rain).

That was the only spot on campus we could smoke, and only between classes.

I was a little behind academically my senior year and was taking an 11th grade social studies class. We had to write a paper and the teacher would allow us to go to the library during class time to research our paper. One day me and another slow senior in the class (Joe was his name) got a hall pass to go to the library. We sprinted out to the parking lot and went down the road to a bar and had a beer instead (actually I think we had 2 each). Eighteen was the drinking age, we were both 18. We got back to campus in time for our next class.

The next day our social studies teacher said she wanted to see us out in the hall. She told us that she knew we hadn't gone to the library the previous day.

"Where did you go".

I couldn't believe what happened next. Joe just confessed. Right off the bat.

"We went to the Highland Road Inn and had a beer", he said.

"Oh, shit", I thought, "We're screwed".

But, her face turned purple, the veins on her forehead bulged out, she screamed at him, "Don't you get smart with me young man and don't you lie to me. I know exactly what you did, I see you two out in the Bullpen every day. You went behind the gym and smoked cigarettes yesterday, that's what you did".

Quickly I said, "Yes ma'am, you caught us".

"Don't do it again" she said, and the three of us went back into the classroom.

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