The Scene (#5): Back To School

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I started my nearly one mile hike at the bright and early hour of 6:00 AM on that first day back to school, carrying a backpack full of my new cassette tapes, the pocket on my jeans overloaded with my Sony Walkman, and headphones covering my ears and delighting me with the sounds of The Ramones. I had to cross a set of train tracks on my way to school every morning, but on this day I wouldn’t have minded getting stuck by a long freight train – it would’ve given me time to listen to more music – but that sadly wasn’t in the cards.               

The ever-daunting question that had been rattling around my head for the past few weeks as to whether other kids would be into punk rock at my school was answered almost immediately when I walked in the door and made my way to my locker upstairs.

Kids that I had known all my life from playing baseball together growing up, were sitting in the hallway with their backs to their lockers wearing headphones and oblivious to the world happening right in front of them. 

Some were rapidly tapping their foot on the floor with the beat – no doubt listening to something fast and energy fueled.

Others wore t-shirts representing their favorite new bands: Green Day, The Offspring, Rancid, and Screeching Weasel - the same shirt that Mike Dirnt was wearing at Woodstock.

The truly radical kids had turned their hair blue or bleached it blonde.

In a matter of 3-months of summer, the kids of my high school, including me, had been completely transformed.

We were a school that was once into sports, wearing t-shirts representing the Cubs, White Sox, Bears, or Bulls – but suddenly sports didn’t seem so important to anyone anymore.

As the first half of the school year wore on, the punkers had a tough time with the balancing act between what being a “normal” junior in high school looked like, versus who we were and were still becoming.

We all went to homecoming, but only hearing songs by the pop artists of the day for three plus hours - Mariah Carey, Ace of Base, and Salt-N-Pepa – became boring rather quickly and pushed us further to the outside.

We all went to a basketball game or two, but were certainly starting to see how different we were becoming from the jocks (yes, we were once a part of them) who took sports so seriously.

It was all such a weird feeling. On the one hand, there was a group of us who ran together, talked about music, and lived and breathed for being the first one to discover a great new band and tell all our friends about it. On the other hand, we were still the outsiders in comparison to the kids that didn’t jump on the music train with us.

We all needed a break from school and Christmas was rapidly approaching just in time. What albums would I get for Christmas? Would I get the Sony Discman I had been hinting at wanting and finally graduate from cassettes to CD’s? Would my mom finally take me to get my driver’s license over the break?

YOUR TURN: How did you first discover that you had friends who were into punk rock, too? T-shirts, colored hair, etc. Tell us about it on our socials or in the comment section below!


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