Return to Ed's stories
By Ed Stout
The very brief conversation below is fictitious, it never happened. Although conversations very much like it surely did take place. Moreover, the two characters you are about to meet are fictitious. They never really existed but they are similar to characters who did exist and who walked the halls of Fairview High School. One more thing, though it is toned down a bit, the language that these two use is coarse. If you are inclined to find that offensive, please don’t read any further.
The scene is as follows. It is a little after 8:00 a.m. in mid-January, 1965. It is very cold in Dayton and while the thermometer was down close to zero the night before, it has climbed to nearly ten degrees. Even though according to the weatherman, it was “too cold to snow,” a slight overnight snow did fall and it covers the ground. The 20 mph wind causes the dry snow to blow.
The weather has prevented the usual morning crowd from gathering in front of the Mascot. Instead, there is one lone individual who we’ll call “Our Friend” standing, shivering in the cold and getting ready to smoke a cigarette before the homeroom bell rings. Our Friend is about six feet tall and his 220 pound bulk makes him appear slightly overweight. His light brown hair is cut in what is affectionately known as a DA. The Brylcreem that he applied a half hour or so ago in an effort to grease his hair back, is frozen. He is wearing a tan coat which strikes him at mid-thigh. His black pants are pegged and they are hemmed about three inches above his shoes. A pair of white socks cushion his black Flagg Brothers shoes.
Another student, “The Acquaintance,” walks across Hillcrest Avenue towards the Mascot. He stands about five foot eight inches tall and is very thin. Like Our Friend, he too has his jet black hair combed and cut in a DA. Other than wearing a black coat, he and Our Friend appear to be similarly groomed and attired. At least on the surface, it appears that way. If, however, one looks closely at his feet, he or she will notice that while he is wearing white socks and black shoes, his shoes did not come from Flagg Brothers. Instead, his pointed black shoes are a cheaper pair that he bought at Beerman’s. He refers to them as his “points.”
When The Acquaintance reaches the front of the Mascot, he speaks to Our Friend and the following conversation takes place.
TA: Hey man, what’s going on?
OF: Not much.
TA: Say, can I bum a dode?
OF: Shit, I bought this pack of Marlboros last night and now I’ve got less than half-a-damn pack. But screw it, here, take one.
TA: Thanks man. You got a match?
OF: Hell man, all you’ve got is the f-ing habit. Do I have to kick you in the ass to get your damn lungs started? Here, I got three more left. Don’t waste ‘em. Open the damn storm door (to the Mascot) and light it.
TA: Otto (the owner of the Mascot) will get pissed.
OF: Here, light it off mine then, but don’t put it out. If I had an extra quarter, I’d buy you a f-ing pack.
TA: I got fifty cents. I’m gonna buy two packs after school.
OF: Shit! You owe me that many.
TA: Bullshit! … Hey, man, what class you got now?
OF: Metal shop.
TA: I got it this afternoon. You got your f-ing project done?
OF: Hell, no. I ain’t been here in three days. I got about fifteen detentions. I got to deal with old man Barger this afternoon.
TA: Oh, man! Your ass gonna be sore.
OF: No shit!
They stand there in silence for a brief time, both are shivering. They take drags off of their cigarettes, and take comfort from the nicotine they are injesting. Then The Acquaintance, in a shivering tone, says,
TA: Cold, ain’t it?
OF: F-ing A – it’s cold!
There is more silence and they take their final drags. Our Friend flips his butt to the ground and crushes it with his Flagg Brothers shoe against the concrete surface in front of the Mascott. The Acquaintance flips his as well and crushes the butt with his “points.” Our Friend then says,
OF: Let’s do it.
TA: Ain’t nothing to it, but to do it. See you later man.
OF: Yeah. Later. Buy some goddamn smokes.
Then in the blowing snow they proceed across Hillcrest towards their respective homerooms. The Acquaintance goes towards the entrance nearest Philadelphia Drive and Our Friend heads towards the opposite end of the building.
Once inside, they go to their homerooms and to an extent blend in with other Fairview students. While they blend in, they don’t really fit in at Fairview. Neither of them ever joined a club (except The Acquaintance was once a member of the Auto Club for a brief time) nor do they participate in any extracurricular activities. They may have gone to Welcome Stadium a time or two to watch the Bulldogs play on the gridiron. But a class play or the Fairview Follies or even a basketball game would be out of the question. They didn’t try out for athletic teams. The girls they date (who they call their “old ladies”) are not Scotchettes or members of Adelphia or Al Sora. They did not register and take the SATs or the ACTs because neither of them has ever given a thought about going to college or obtaining any kind of higher education. You can look but you won’t find any photographs of them in the yearbook. In short, they were just there, kind of like Fairview’s underclass or underbelly.
There will be no school sponsored Christmas trips to New York City for these two. Neither of them will ever receive a Fairview diploma. Within four weeks of this conversation, Our Friend will have dropped out of school. The Acquaintance will follow the same course in the early fall of 1965. Yet in January 1965, when the conversation takes place, they too were Bulldogs.