Is there life after high school? Those of us still struggling through “the best years of our lives“ certainly hope so. According to Ralph Keyes, author of Is There Life After High School?, once we arrive on the “outside“ there are vast changes and social adjustments in store for everyone from jocks to cheerleaders to freaks. Hi school status simply doesn’t follow us through life. For some of us, that may be a good thing, for others – better hang onto your final days of glory.
Keyes believes That although our personalities may not change significantly upon leaving high school, the surroundings do. High school football heroes, cheerleaders and even class officers may not find receptive audiences is out in the real world. The tribal rights and a quiet status of high school don’t hold up except perhaps as embarrassing reminders of immaturity. But memories of high school and all its mistakes do linger on, despite attempts to forget them.
Something important to keep in mind is how very eccentric and environment high school is. What happens within bears little relationship to what happens without. High school is too insular, too inbred, too focused on its own peculiar rituals to prepare people for life thereafter.
The experience of high school is one commonly shared by most people and the many variations of her different settings, status in popularity a constant in a high school environment. This may be dubbed the battle of the “innies” and the “outies.” Keyes uses these labels to describe the individuals belonging to groups or cliques which for one reason or another attract more favorable attention (from the student point of view).
Some of the more interesting aspects of Is There Life After High School? Are the case studies of the people considered “innies” in high school and their subsequent lifestyles in the real world. One interview with George McDonald, Marilyn Chambers’ co-star in Behind the Green Door, provides a fascinating profile of a porn king who attributes his high school experience to his present theme. McDonald was a member of the yearbook staff, the Key Club and was also the president of his student body (no pun intended). Marilyn Chambers, incidentally, was a high school cheerleader, as was Angela Atwood who was killed in Los Angeles as a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Before we congratulate ourselves on the fact that we shall never get hung up about high school, we would do well to remember that we have the rest of our lives to be haunted by high school memories. How can we ever forget the feeling of eating alone at a table in the cafeteria or the name of the person who got the part we wanted in the class play? We may plot for years about how to get even. Some of us may simply choose to forget as much as possible while others may be forced to hang onto memories of better days while our lives pass by
For those who do want to get even, Keyes offers a few final suggestions which we might want to keep in mind before our departure from high school:
Make an obscene movie with your high school as the setting.
Work in a high school cafeteria.
Give smaller portions to students who resemble classmates you didn’t like.
Become an author. Write caricatures of ex-jocks
Combine pictures from your yearbook into a work of art. Call it American Primitives.
Note: The above quotations were taken from Ralph Keyes’ book, Is There Life After High School, published by Little, Brown and Company in 1976.