Once Upon A Time In America

Perhaps the most horrific time growing up in America and some other countries is being a teenager and particularly the junior high years. One may generalize and call it puberty. It is more than merely the recognition of one’s body and it’s functions. That alone clearly created growing pains. The academics and more difficult classes with math often seeming like a death knell for many were challenging. These changes certainly were issues with their own problems and questions. However the whole socialization process was undoubtedly the highest mountain to climb.

Junior high became a popularity contest, a beauty contest, tough guy competition and more. The proper way to talk, the slang, texting, the gossip and even the swearing. Alcohol and drugs slowly crept into the equation but manifested themselves in a more significant manner later in the high school years. Status, the smart kids, athletes, girls with big whatevers, nerds even what a person wears were factors. A who’s who of fellow classmates reared its ugly head. These concerns often created huge psychological issues leading to various insecurities and attitudes. Who cares? Everyone generally navigated through these turbulent times and got on with their lives. Some didn’t progress so well and carried the battle scars through high school and beyond.

The actions and attitudes of those years may be characterized as acceptable behavior for the age. Perhaps who one has for friends or socialized with can be the highest hurdle to get over. So and so is really cool or whatever term applied at the time and it is important to be part of that group. Being part of the group, the in crowd, language and choice of words becomes paramount. This is the age where vulgar talk and dirty words can elevate one’s status in the social pecking order. No longer is “she’s pretty or nice” enough. Now she is getting tits and it would be great to grab them. Tommie whoever said he did behind the bleachers. One can’t be afraid to criticize others and label them. Jon doesn’t know or hang out with cool friends. We were friends earlier but not anymore. He did get a new phone which he let me use but that was the other day. Doug is a tough guy and is always getting into fights. I say he’s my friend but I don’t like him. He is kind of scary to be around. Melissa won the election for class president. She is really two-faced but the guys like her and the things she wears. Some of the popular kids are not always nice but who cares. If someone tells other people about things said or done, just deny it and call them liars.

Those were the days with hurts, disappointments, stress and acne. However impossible this rite of passage appeared at the time, generally almost all survived with a litany of battle scars. Some heal and disappear completely while a few others remained. Glaring reminders of behavior which was viewed as unacceptable with growth and maturity. Unfortunately some neither grew nor matured.

President Donald Trump pushed the Oval Office door open on January 21st. He walked to his desk, a desk utilized by great, not so great and other Presidents before him. A sealed envelope lay in a tray labeled first thing to review. Written on the front of the envelope with black magic marker was, “Once Upon A Time In America.”


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