My thoughts on a high school reunion
I’ve never been to a high school reunion and I likely never will. No, I wasn’t picked on – no more than anybody else. There are fates worse than being picked on.
I was ignored.
I wasn’t good looking. I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t good at sports. My grades were average. I wasn’t a joiner, and I didn’t belong to any caste in the high school social hierarchy.
I was invisible.
I went to exactly one party during my three years of high school. I never got drunk or took drugs. I had zero dates. I rode the bus – except one day, when a friend let me ride to school with him in his father’s car. We drove around the parking lot so everybody could see us. I never got in trouble, except once, when a science teacher gave me a zero on a test because I talked during test time. To be fair, he’d warned us that any talking would result in a zero.
My high school days weren’t miserable. Movies give us a gloomy picture of high school as a place where popular kids shine at the expense of unpopular kids. That wasn’t my experience. I knew popular kids and they were nice to me, from the blond football quarterback hero to the cheerleading captain. The clubbers, the athletes, the smart people – they didn’t lord it over everyone else, though we all knew who they were.
But high school was no fun, either. Not for me. Being invisible reminded me of my limitations, and in ways it reinforced them, so I rarely tried to exceed my grasp because I knew I would fail.
What saved me, a little, was tennis, which I started playing the summer I graduated from high school. I loved it and played every chance I could. Over time I got better, and tried my hand at tournaments. I lost my first match, but I was hooked. Two years later I won a tournament. That victory gave me confidence to try other things, and the lesson I took from my tennis experience was that I couldn’t succeed without failing, maybe several times. That mindset served me well in my fiction writing. After trying and failing for 20 years, I finally sold a work of fiction to a professional, paying market.
It was then I knew I was not the blond football quarterback hero, the guy with straight A’s on his report card, or the president of the student council. For me, success would be hard fought. But you know what? I’m OK with that now.
I have a few friends from high school I keep in touch with, but overall I have no desire to revisit those days, or remember a time when I was not comfortable with who I am.
So if any of my high school chums want to reconnect, look me up here, not at a reunion.
About the author:
Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”
Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.
As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.
Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .