“U R 2 Good 2 B 4GOTTEN!” “Stay cool this summer!” “Time for all chickens to die; don’t you feel sick?” “You are neat and special!”
Ah, nothing like flipping through the ole high school yearbook, looking at the big hair and Ditto jeans of the 80s, reading the “clever” quips written by my classmates and reflecting on yester-year. These were supposedly “best of times.”
I remember hearing this term throughout my senior year at Taft Union High school because the movie “The Best of Times” (starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell) was being filmed in Taft at the time. It was a story of two middle-aged high school buddies reminiscing about the big football game between rivals Taft High School and Bakersfield High School, and how these men looked back at their time in high school as the best time of their lives. It made me wonder if I would look back on this time as “the best of times.”
They really were good times, those days when the Bee Gees crooned “More Than a Woman” (which, I kid you not, my dad still to this day thinks is called “Bald-Headed Woman”), while we were cruizin’ down the main drag of Taft (Center Street) in our Mustangs and El Caminos (my friends had these kinds of cool cars while I, however, cruised in the family station wagon) looking for “foxy” guys who weren’t too “squirrelly.” But even as I was enjoying my youth, the freedom from adult responsibilities and the ability to rise from a sitting position without groaning, I remember thinking, “is this as good as it gets?”
Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud of being a Taft High Wildcat, even though my school pride has been called into question by several of my high school buddies because I opted to send my children to Garces (Garces was one of our biggest rivals back in my day). I’ve always held my head high as I pronounced myself a graduate of Taft Union High School. Until a couple of weeks ago, that is.
The day started nicely; I was having a pleasant lunch at Urrichio’s and decided to dress appropriately – in a nice sweater, clean and pressed pair of black slacks and high heels (as opposed to my usual sweatpants and “I’M GRUMPY” hoodie). After lunch I stopped off at Albertson’s and as I was choosing ice cream (for my kids - not for myself, of course) when a lovely older woman – maybe late 80s, early 90s – came over to me, touched my shoulder and said, “That is such a beautiful sweater. I just wanted to tell you how nice your outfit is.”
“Why thank you!” I said. “You just made my day!”
“Oh, what high school did you go to, my dear,” this gentle woman asked.
“Taft High,” I said proudly.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the woman mumbled as she disappeared into the frozen entrée section.
“WTH (What The Heck)?” I thought, so flustered I started unloading groceries from my overflowing cart in the express check-out stand. The check-out lady let me continue, but I couldn’t help but think, “If that older woman sees me now she’s probably saying to someone, ‘Oh, she went to Taft High so she probably can’t read all that well.’”