Friday, October 26, 2007

Heavy Rocker

Sometimes I have memories pop back in my head during my morning routine in the bathroom. Other times I get great ideas, mostly work-related.

This morning I was thinking about a time when I was a Freshman at General H.H. Arnold High School in Germany. I was just getting into heavy metal. I still always cut my hair pretty short, though. I was a greasy kid, and very skinny. I had a guy in my English class named Chris Belcher. I always thought that was an odd last name. Perhaps, in its origin, it is pronounced "Bel-ker" but "Belcher" is how Chris, and his brother, Larry, pronounced it.

Chris was a short kid, really curly light brown hair that looked like a 'fro. He wore a leather jacket with a jean jacket vest over it. The vest had a big Ozzy patch on the back. He hung out with the "smoking" crowd, but did not smoke (although Larry did). These were supposed to be "the tough kids" but they were pretty nice to me, overall.

You know, people tend to stereotype when they see a kid like Chris. Drug user, listens to heavy metal. I imagine he was a pretty good student, or at least average. I'm not sure if he was a "drug user," but somehow I doubted it. When I look back, I think his father was pretty strict, and he probably had a great set of parents, okay with Larry smoking probably because one of them did, but wanting Chris and Larry to tow the line.

If Chris had any obvious vices, they were hallway pranks. He and a couple of friends would stand against the wall in the hallway, and about 5 minutes before the class bell would ring, as people would rush-walk by, he would look straight ahead with the most neutral face possible and say just loud enough to get someone's attention, "Dropped something." The person would sometimes stop, look behind them on the floor, look at Chris and his one or two straightfaced friends, and then keep going. After they were out of view, Chris would crack a smile.

We always used to talk about music, mostly heavy metal. He got me into Metallica and Slayer (when Metallica only had the "Kill 'Em All" LP out). Eventually, when Chris would walk into class, his greeting to me would be, "Heavy Rocker" in kind of a mocking voice, annunciating each syllable. Hea-Vee Raw-Ker. I knew, in a way, that he was making fun of me, the kid who liked metal who was wearing Izod shirts and had short hair, but I actually liked the name.

As sort of a half-prank, I asked my parents for a black t-shirt with orange HEAVY ROCKER letters on it for my birthday. I imagine my parents considered my request and thought, "What the fuck?" but they got it for me. I wore it to school the next day, even though it was kind of cold. I felt sort of like a dork, but it was kind of fun because it had sort of a backfiring effect on Chris. Usually, he was the guy who pulled the pranks, but someone actually took one of his pranks to heart. Of course, he and other folks from his cadre pointed and laughed, but after that day he stopped calling me that.

In hindsight, I wish I still had a shirt that said that. Maybe I'm just easily amused. In this day, how funny would that be?

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