In the fall of 1968, I was in the ninth grade at Meadowbrook Junior High in Prairie Village, Kansas. Due to the strict rules regarding all things in alphabetical order, I was given a seat in study hall that was directly across the table from Chatty Cathy, only her real name was Stacie. Never in my 15 years of life had I ever been in the presence of a female like Stacie. She could talk non-stop for the entire hour. Given that I had probably spoken less in my entire life than she managed in one day, I was at a distinct disadvantage. She talked about anything that popped into her head and I was expected to hang on every word and be ready with a meaningful comment when called upon. Lucky for me, my responses were only allowed while she was catching her breath and therefore one well chosen word was usually enough.
I have to admit that I really enjoyed my time with Stacie. She was very pretty and a huge flirt, so I was right at home. What she saw in me is still a mystery, although availability was all she really wanted. I was there every day and I had no interest in studying, so listening to her was much more fun. I guess she thought I was cute because my conversational skills were nil. (I have no perspective on my own cuteness but my daughter has a picture of me from high school that she swears looks just like Zac Efron, whoever that is.) I was just one of those guys who fell for any girl who paid me any attention and Stacie held center stage for all of first semester.
I do think she helped me develop some expert listening skills. I couldn’t possibly keep up with her actual train of thought because it was more like a train wreck. What I did manage to learn was the art of picking out key words. That made it seem like I had really been concentrating, when in fact I couldn’t care less about most of her diatribes. At least Stacie spoke with a huge amount of passion for her thoughts. She had an opinion on everything to do with school, friends, animals and our shared love of summers in Minnesota. She was really one of a kind and she was all mine every day for an hour.
Unfortunately, Stacie’s sense of humor and willingness to laugh at just about anything I said eventually caught up with us. The study hall teacher was a regular visitor to our table to remind of us of the no-talking rule. We had virtually no chance at compliance as Stacie was a terrible whisperer and writing notes took way too long for her over-active mind. By the end of first semester we were exiled to opposite ends of the multi-purpose room and our once flourishing relationship died a tragically sudden death.
In retrospect it’s probably a good thing. I was ill-equipped to keep up with a girl like Stacie. My mono-syllabic responses were woefully inadequate when dealing with this junior high Oprah. She really deserved a better audience than me. I still don’t talk that much because I save it all for this blog. Somehow God saw fit to give me the gift of writing and we should always go with our best pitch. As for me now, I just reminisce about my school days and consider something Josh Billings wrote, ” The grate art in writing well, iz tew kno when tew stop.”
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