The reason that the transition from junior high to high school was not as traumatic as it could have been was the fact that tenth graders went to school at 10 - 11 o'clock and didn’t get out until 5, and as winter approached, clocks were pushed back to standard time, and I walked home alone (about a mile and a half) in the dark. It suited me well.


I felt apart from people, and although I was not a complete loner (I did have a few neighborhood friends), for the most part I was alone, liked to be alone, and was uncomfortable, perhaps fearful, of people.


Lunch time, in the cafeteria, was not terrifically pleasant.. Many people were pledging for fraternities; people wanting to belong. I sat at a table (and once I sat there, it became my assigned seat where attendance was taken for LUNCH. Very prison like. The boys at the table said that they were a fraternity in their own style (in other words a low grade gang) and called themselves the 8 Balls, and that I could join by pledging.


I wanted to belong to something, even this bullshit fraternity, just as my old friends from junior high (most Jewish) were pledging for their greek fraternities. So I said OK. And ran errands for the 8 Balls, and then got punched out, and said fuck it, this is crap, and moved to the far side of the cafeteria (with permission from the Cafeteria Guards....err....matrons of course) and ended up finding an open space at a table with some black girls, who were colored girls back then, and no doubt thought what the hell is this white boy doing here, but let me sit and eat in peace for the rest of the year.


The reason I brought up this indistinguishable event is because it was during this time, on an unimproved lot, with one of the 8 Balls, that I had my first taste of alcohol...a beer. Given a full and I had about two sips. Hated the taste. Didn’t have another drink for a year, but when I did ... all hell erupted.

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