7 STORIES FROM KLAMATH UNION HIGH SCHOOL,
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KLAMATH FALLS, OREGON
(A SMALL CITY NEXT TO CALIFORNIA)
1.) In freshman year, I went out for track and joined the long distance team. I did this because I wasn't very fast and really just did it for fitness and to see pretty girls in their track outfits. One day, I just didn't want to do the 5 mile run so I fell behind and then ran to a nearby minute market, had an iced coffee and a cigarette, then wrote a poem... and ran back toward K.U.(all in not very much time.) Well, just as I passed the V-lot I heard furious footsteps behind me and Ian Dobson zoomed past me, barefoot I think, saying: "Great run, Sean" without the least bit of sarcasm. It hadn't EVER been my intention to pass myself off as 1st or 2nd, but Ian commended my performance to Coach Herron and I couldn't bring myself to tell either of them.
The following years I played tennis, with much more enjoyment and success.
2.) I used to hang out with some rebellious types, smoking pot and what not... as early as freshman year. In this way, I came to spend some time with Denny Taber, a Karate blackbelt and one of the toughest kids in Klamath... lifting weights and listening to White Zombie. At the same time, I was a very good student and my math class was graded on a curve. Now despite being something of a prodigy as a kid, I avoided and avoid advanced math for whatever reason. So my class had everybody up to seniors... notably one tall skinny red-headed kid with a bad attitude. There was a curve and these kids were always after me to stop acing the tests(because Mrs. Herron wouldn't adjust it.)
So one day, this kid caught me on my way back from the head and confronted me... probably meaning to rough me up. Well, Denny happened upon us, grabbed the dude by the shirt, and asked if there was a problem. The kid had enough sense to hot-tail it out of there.
I might have played ball otherwise... but after that I continued to ace every test and the bully failed. I'll buy you a beer one of these years, Denny.
3.) I shouldn't share this one. Senior year: "Character Counts" essay contest and event. I wrote an essay: quite high-sounding and meaningless, I remember an eloquent comparison of Rome's decline and our own situation. Not liking it, I then wrote an essay about a little kid who I protected from bullies at Pelican Elementary School(I was quite big for my age.)
I decided to give my friend Chris Siens the first essay for his age division. Well, Chris(who couldn't write worth a lick) won the cash prize, applause and high praise from the judges, and a circle of admiring girls. I was a finalist but didn't win: Chris later became a Herald and News "teen scene writer."
4.) In my senior year I read a short story to senior honors English... to probably more praise than it deserved. Later in the day Danielle Stewart(now Danielle Stewart Harmon with beautiful kids in Salt Lake City) struck up a conversation with me; there was never anything between us, though I admired both her beauty and charm.
I asked her if she'd liked the story. http://www.abctales.com/node/517142
She said "yes, though it was a little 'risky' " I corrected her, "risque"(and it was stupidly so.) She asked me if I liked the word; I might have explained that words were just tools to me but I used to find it difficult to be a "raconteur" around girls like her(now, I find gin to be good for the eyes and tongue... if bad for the stomach; at the time I'd had only a few beers and permitted tastes of my dad's good Scotch.)
So I said that I did like the word "risque" and she seemed pleased and that was that. A small and trivial episode... but exactly the sort of thing I remember and find the greatest meaning in.
5.) Freshman year, gym class, I dropped a quarter and as I was going to pick it up, Casey Platte dove in, grabbed it, and gave me a "what are you going to do about it" look. He was quite in the "in crowd" throughout high school... and might have become a great guy by now. But that quarter's collecting interest.
6.) For my class-mate Jared Hager:
Just for fun, let me tell you what I remember about you. We went to YMCA daycare together where we'd shoot hoops, play tag, etc. Then in high school I didn't know you well. But you were well liked and were chased around by a lot of beautiful girls. Your sister ?Corrie? was nice and we'd chat sometimes in the library... which was sort of my lair, lol
In freshman(typo) year, we took a field trip to a fish hatchery(Sara Schaaf, who I had a crush on, was there) and then stopped at a waterfall. I remember you chilled for a while smiling and meditative on a big boulder up by the Falls with your shirt off: seeing how ripped you were and knowing how much the girls liked you, I was a little envious(I didn't enjoy the trip at all.)
Later that year, I went to Paul Thurston's party at the Running Y: I brought a bottle of champagne. Paul was kind of stoked to party with me and we drank together. Max Crismon, who since fought in Iraq, was there and obviously having fun. You were in a locked room with a few pretty blondes. I was outside smoking a cigarette with Greg Farnsworth, who I'd call a friend, and you came out and led him into the room.
I was enjoying myself but knew the cops would come and so I took off. But, having emptied the champagne, I was really drunk for the first time. I took off walking and came to a ritzy adult party with an open bar: ordeurves and a huge fireworks show going on. I just walked in as if I belonged and, being a member of the country club, the staff assumed I was allright and fixed me special drinks, etc. It was a feast, too. With more liquor in me, I recovered myself and went to the main desk to call my dad, who picked me up... not mad at all.
7.) Junior year: some statewide chess tournament. Tyson Willis, who despite his pale scrawny appearance was also a fierce tennis player, was hands-down the best player on the team and maybe the best in the state. But, frankly, I was more charismatic and got 4 out of 5 votes for team captain.
So we draw a tough team our first round and I'm 2nd seat so we win 3 games including mine, but I fail to record it on the slip(the main job of a team captain.) So the judge comes over and almost gives the win to the other team(my dad was there and handled it.)
After that, I reluctantly gave Tyson the captain's position. But there really wasn't any bad blood... as Tyson and I were fairly close friends and I really wanted to place more than stroke my ego. So throughout the tournament, we played some wicked chess and it was a lot of fun. Tyson won every game, against elite players. Chris Siens on 5th seat(actually a far more talented chess player than I was) played carelessly and got beat down again and again. This angered me as I'd gone to a lot of trouble to get him on the team instead of this nice guy who couldn't even play but showed up to every team meeting. Jason Poudrier played impressively well.
So it all comes down to one game: mine. If I win, we take third or fourth. I was playing this fat geek and I politely offered a stalemate and he not only refused it but boomed that "he'd crush me." Now I view chess as a game... and wouldn't play it if I didn't enjoy it.
But this guy had obviously trained and he was actually very good. But like my friend Eric Beekman once told me: "If I'm ahead at the last 20 meters, I'll kill myself sooner than lose." Well, materially I wasn't ahead in the game and this guy had the better position... but we exchanged parry for parry.
And then: an epiphany, a vision. We had a most unusual situation and all I had to do to win the game was march my king across the board and then checkmate him with a knight. This guy thought I'd gone mad... and attacked me on the other side of the board, taking pawns and a bishop.
And then his fat eyes boggled: he saw like I did, that there was no move he could make to prevent checkmate. He knocked over his king... the sign of resignation.
Tyson Willis came back and was dumbfounded. "How did you win from that position?," he asked. But the position had never been lost: it just took innovative eyes.
We got fourth place and an engraved silver trophy(out of some sixty teams from around the state and with Chris having lost 4 out of 5.)
I was never asked for it but I volunteered the trophy to the principal.