Control: Senior Year — Rocked It

I remember senior year of high school. I took the hardest classes — English and History courses to try to get college credit from high school classes. I wanted to rock AP English Literature. I impressed everyone with my intellect, right? I needed to impress people with my writing. I trained to become a writer. One year later I would start the great American novel.

I just wanted to write a good book. I wanted to learn what made people love the classics. I read good books. We read Light in August by William Faulkner. We read obscure poetry. We studied Shakespeare, I think. In some classes the students gel and they explain just enough of their real lives to turn a normal class into something more. That happened in senior English.

The year before we had the most popular teacher in school teaching American History, so we expected greatness from AP European History. He was good but some people didn’t like him as much. I thought that he did just fine.

I didn’t take much science or math. I might have taken a normal, non-honors science class, and I don’t think that I took a math course. I took some sort of philosophy course, I think, and I continued to work on the school newspaper.

I remember we worried about prom more than enjoyed it. I felt like college would be a pleasant adventure. I didn’t know where to go, so I decided to go to the University of Iowa because I had a strong program there as a summer camp. The summer camp was taught by a very good religion professor from whom I wanted to learn more.

I remember graduation at a large, open venue: Ravinia, I think. I talked to the English teacher, who said that I got an A because I took the optional final and worked like crazy to do it well. I remember other people got a different teacher, but I prefer the one that I learned from. He taught us to care about one another and analyze literature. He was a large, burly man with a mustache and muscles forever. He seemed just perfect to me. The other — more popular teacher — flirted with a student and ended up as a waiter. I don’t know if he was innocent or not, but the male students all defended him.

I had friends. Sal and Richie and Simon played Magic and role-played, and Finnegan and I hung out sometimes. We played role-playing games and watched genre movies. We played The Great Dalmuti, sort of a modified Asshole, and played Hero Quest, a game way ahead of its time. We would spend countless hours in Simon’s family’s basement. His brother’s dog needed to be taken out regularly, and we had a pool table and poker table to play games at. He had a huge television and a video game system. We even played a game so violent that they didn’t publish it. Yeah.

Rylan Hooke entered my life that year. He was a sophomore who played Magic The Gathering and role-played with us. I remember one time I killed his character when he wasn’t there and intended to resurrect him, but the resurrection never happened. Rylan was nice and kind and loved engineering and hadn’t started his religious phase. His sister modeled underwear and even modeled for Playboy. A friend of ours, Tarik, asked her out to prom. She said yes. Her entire drink spilled all over an expensive little black dress and she said it was the worst experience of her life.

I was almost mature enough to write a novel — one year away.

I started to lay down the pieces for a writing career. I slept with no one, romanced one woman, and at the end of the summer I didn’t want to date her any longer. I didn’t want to start a long-distance romance to start college. I wanted her to think that she was great and I was bad, so naturally I told her that I didn’t love her, hadn’t loved her, and didn’t have feelings for her. I thought I was helping her. I was an asshole.

Senior Year of high school was when I began to make some decisions of my own. I stopped learning math and science. I read more literature. I dated for the first time. I thought that I would make something of myself, and soon. I thought that I would wow the world with my writing the next year. Each year I thought I would impress people the following year. I thought my words sang like nothing else in existence. Twenty years later I am struggling to find an audience.

Ah, hell. Life sucks anyway, right?

Thanks, and take care, friends.


Dalton Lewis wrote a novel about a cult infesting a small Iowa city.

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