Thursday, September 30, 2010

Special Memories

Since thirty full years have passed since my graduation from high school, I thought I'd elaborate on some of those very special memories, which I touched on in the previous essay. That is, memories of the not especially special special buses that I road on for four seemingly interminable years.

The special bus experience was unpleasant all around—an illuminating microcosm of the larger high school experience. As a bus pulled in close to the curbside, a select group of students—mostly brutes but some non-brutes, too—would literally attach themselves to its front and side doors. These brazen young fools sought to be the first ones in the bus when it came to a full stop and the doors opened. And right behind these fearless leaders of the wolf pack, a second tier of equally aggressive teens would jostle their way onto the bus, hurling articles—book bags, books, newspapers, hats, gloves, and pens—on top of as many seats as humanly possible. This daily onslaught was all about acquiring seats—not only for themselves but for their friends and acquaintances as well.

It was the accepted law of the special bus jungle that if somebody had an item of any kind on a seat, it was ipso facto saved. These bus rides were survival of the fittest tests—galootism run amok—where the weak among us more often than not stood for the duration of the trip from Broadway in Kingsbridge to Cardinal Spellman High School on the other side of the Bronx.

The buses, too, were packed like the proverbial sardines in a can; so a seat was a cherished prize. It eased somewhat—for the twenty-minute or so ride—the all-encompassing misery of the school day ahead, particularly when the vastly overcrowded bus bended sideways and then back again as it careened around a dead man’s curve leading to the intersection of East Gunhill Road and Jerome Avenue, and then repeated this extreme feat at another sharp turn onto Boston Road.

I am prone to wax nostalgic about many things from the good old days. But when I find myself fondly recalling the high school years, I resurrect these most special of memories and am promptly disabused of any and all warm and fuzzy feelings.

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