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Thomas H. Mutchler

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First Real High
By Thomas H. Mutchler
Wednesday, September 08, 2004

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I think it was the summer of '74, maybe early fall, just before my seventh grade year. My friend Wayne and I were at the local elementary school where I'd just finished attending after many years. This time around the school took on a different significance.

Wayne and I were shooting baskets just after smoking some weed. I had smoked weed before and even though I smoked what I felt was sufficient to get me high, nothing out of the ordinary happened. So on this day, shooting baskets as well as encountering someone else doing the same - his name was Jeff but I didn't know it at the time - it felt so far like it was just another day of shooting the hoop when I was overtaken by a sensation I hadn't known. It rapidly engulfed, well, my whole being to the point where I was asking Wayne questions like "Hey Wayne, are we really here?" He couldn't stop laughing, and I couldn't stop freaking out. God, I hated it. I'd look at things around me to see if it was still the same, and though in reality they were, to me, uh, they didn't seem that way.

Meantime Jeff is still shooting baskets, glancing at me occasionally, not laughing but maybe snickering in a subtle way when he throws his basketball right at my face, making Wayne almost roll with laughter. The piss-ass thing about it was that I couldn't retaliate to Jeff, I was so fried. The experience seemed to permanently change me - for better or worse, I still can't tell, but it's easy to see how it changed me in another way: the next time I looked in the mirror I noticed a small chip on the corner of my left front tooth that wasn't there before, pretty much the same spot where the basketball landed. Wayne and I kept in touch off and on over the years, and Jeff, who later became president of his eighth grade class and hence became popular, "somehow" earned a nickname: Chipper.

copyright 2004 Tom Mutchler

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