I hadn’t told my parents that i quit the marching band. I had just quit the wrestling team a few weeks earlier and had to listen to a long lecture about seeing things through from my dad, who quit school in the middle of the 10th grade. What the fuck should he care if I want to wrestle or not? It was my dumb idea in the first place, so I should be able to quit whenever the hell I wanted. I didn’t feel like hearing any more bullshit, so I got up and went to school early every day as if i were going to band practice. I would just go to the cafeteria and eat donuts until school started. I say a lot of terrible things about my alma mater, Northeast Catholic High School for boys. I would like to take a minute to say something positive about the place. They were so good at deep frying things. The school’s home grown (not corporate subcontracted) cafeteria system had such delicious french fries at lunchtime, that nobody ate much else. In the morning, a donut machine churned relentlessly, popping out the most delicious, icing topped delights. You could smell them from a half block away. That’s the only positive thing I have to say about that dumb fuck school.
Coffee would have been perfect with these delicious donuts, but I don’t think the school sold any coffee. I started drinking coffee before I left the house every day when I was 8 years old. I liked it with a little whole milk and 1 and a half teaspoons of sugar. I think I drank 2 cups every morning before high school, but man, it would have been great with those perfect little hot donuts. The only way to have pulled that off would have been to stop at the dunkin donuts at the corner between the el stop and the school, but that would have been crazy. Stop at a donut store to grab a coffee to go with these other donuts? That’s hyper-consumerist. Today I would do that whole rigamarole without even thinking about it. It would just become some invisible part of my routine, but I wasn’t so dead inside back then. There was a 7-11 and a McDonalds across the street from the school along with the(yo quiero!)Taco Bell, but all of those places’ coffee sucked hard. Super hot orange/yellow water is what they were like. Dunkin Donuts coffee kinda stunk too. Dunkin is still mediocre here in 2017. Construction dudes act like it’s the shit, but that’s more about the power of marketing than it is about flavor.
This is before coffee was a big fuckin deal. I know it’s hard to remember, but in the late 80s, nobody gave a shit about coffee. My family did, but we were not normal. We(my dad) would get real into shit. He got WAY into Bob Evans Savory Sage breakfast sausage, and so we had to have it for breakfast every weekend morning and we always had to be talking about how fuckin great it was because he had us all brainwashed. I mean it was good, but it wasn’t THAT good. Weekdays were devoted to Cinnamon Toast Crunch because we were all on the go. We all (he) shortened it to CTC and encouraged us to eat it as often as possible and sing it’s praises to each other and outsiders alike. We all (he) took coffee real seriously too. We had a regular coffee maker as well as an espresso/cappuccino machine. We had graduated from Folger’s to Gevalia, a Swedish coffee company that mailed the gourmet shit to you every couple weeks. Anyway, coffee didn’t get hip until about ’90, 91. That’s when coffee shops like the one portrayed in Edie Brickell’s videos started popping up. Until then, only old Italian people had ever had a cappuccino
Getting to school that early was also good because as I was starting to find out, high school is harder than grade school. Eventually, I was gonna have to do some homework no matter how fuckin charming I was. Usually though, I just hung out with whoever was around. Looking back, I find it amazing that I didn’t just tell my parents I quit marching band. That would have been so much less hassle. In fact, I think maybe I should have quit school entirely when i was 16 and worked on an Alaskan fish boat or sold ecstasy for 2 years, then bought a triplex in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with the money, but hindsight, eh? I always have these dreams that I’m back in high school. Not like I’m naked and giving a book report or anything like that. Just that I’m back there sitting in class, bored, and then I think, “hang on a minute, if I’m in high school, then how come I remember graduating and college and being married and having a job and all that shit? I’m walking the fuck out of here. I’m quitting!” Then I wake up. But that short moment, in the dream, when I realize I can walk right out and nobody can stop me, that’s one of the best feelings I know about.
Eventually I got busted. At some point half way through the year, The band leader, Marchionne, called my house and told my folks that I should come get my sax out of their locker. I had left it there in the band room lockers for several months after I split. I was such a dumbass. Was there nowhere else I could have stashed the horn? I got grounded for about a month for that one. “It’s not ’cause you quit the marching band. It’s ’cause you lied about it.” they told me. You know how many fuckin times I’ve heard that dumb bullshit?