I was at best a part time Senior. My day consisted of an honors English Class, and Phys. Ed. And even in the second half of the year, I didn’t have PE! What a time ~ I would go to school for two or three hours, and then frolic my afternoons away hunting, fishing, enjoying the great outdoors that is Louisiana the “Sportsmans Paradise”
I never even thought about fitting in. Some might struggle with the fitting in part. The myriad urges impulses and class warfare in the hallways and byways of High School were simply not my concern. The highest degree of outcast we had in our suburban white enclave was a “pothead” a sort of shadowy myth of a teenager who it was rumored smoked herb. I had never actually seen one of them, but I knew with a certainty that they existed ~ as too many jokes and murmurings spelled the truth. Dances, Senior trips, cookouts ~ whatever the other seniors did, I was blissfully unaware. My lot was to get my honors English under my belt and get through with the darn education. I did use the extra time to get an Associates in Theology via distance learning.
I noticed the Seniors looked out for me in what I thought to be extremely loyal and odd behavior. Each morning, while I walked to the bus, from around the corner, a car, pick up truck, Hotrod ~ I never really knew what to expect to be honest ~ would wheel around the block and I stared straight ahead walking. Invariably, a “cool kid” would slow down, and a door would open, the window cranked down: “Get in Lonny!” ~ it never failed to amaze me, the pecking order they had established. There were us “Seniors” and everybody else.
But what really astonished me was the underground communications systems this group possessed. After devoting my hour to my term paper: James Finnemore Cooper ~ Nature as a Metaphor for Humanity (I got an A+ the first Senior ever to achieve such a lofty grade in the entire history of Central High) I would amble outside to attempt my walk home ~ the distance about 5 miles. In all my senior year, I never made it farther than the curb.
Each day, by some secret method of communication, a cheerleader, athlete, neighbor, even a complete stranger would be under the front awning, car idling, smiling, inviting me in for my ride. It was simply NOT in their mindset that a Senior would be seen humbly walking ~ not while there was still breath left in them. At the top of the food chain, these Royals had standards, and Lon Dunn be damned if he was going to come along and change what was an accepted societal hierarchy. If I was too ignorant to play along with the game, had abandoned concern whatever for the way things were ~ well they would just have to make sure I complied.
Over the years, as I reflect back upon their efforts, I never fail to shake my head and smirk a bit. Or is it a smile? How privileged a life we led, where there was some sort of phone calling taking place, some sort of notes passed, some kind of day before agreement: “Who is getting Lon home from school ~ we can’t let him walk.” or how did they know when I brought my dad’s car to school? Was there a big flashing light somewhere, blinking, telling these folks that they didn’t have to worry?
No self suspecting outcast would dare consider seriously any run at a Reunion. Talk I might, but travel and hotels and interrupting my business for a quick check in with old friends? To the kid who could care less, why a reunion? Besides, memories fade with hairlines, wrinkles set in, gravity takes over and we are hardly recognizable. And thus it was, that a Reunion Organizer in her attempt to be polite, wrote one day: “Lonny. Did you graduate with us? Even if you didn’t you can still attend if you want” And I just chuckled. She couldn’t even remember?
I must have done a fairly decent job flying under the radar.