#833: This Is Me in Grade 9 (Part Five of the 1986 Saga)

GETTING MORE TALE #833: This Is Me in Grade 9

(Part Five of the 1986 Saga)

“If you’re going to keep sitting next to me, never sing again,” said Steve Vanderveen.  It was the first day of grade 9, the first day of highschool, the first day of my new life.  And I fucked it up!  In Catholic school, we had to sing “O Canada” and we had to sing it like we meant it.  Little did I know, in public school, they didn’t sing.  They just stood at attention.  But on that first day of school, it was me and only me singing, without even realizing it.

What a winner.

I managed to recover from this embarrassment, and make a go of highschool.  Without all the loser baggage I carried from the grade school days, it was a fresh start.  The bullies were gone.  I was making new friends!  There was Rob Daniels and his buddy “Gumby”, there was Danesh and Anand, and I had never seen such diversity in a classroom before.  As strange is this sounds, in all the years from kindergarten up, I never had a black kid in my class before.  And now here was Carlton, a popular kid who loved to talk about how beautiful Jamaica was.  I don’t think I knew anyone who’d even been to Jamaica before.  I wanted to be his friend!  And of course there was Peter Cavan, who absolutely was not my friend in grade 9!  I ratted him out for eating liquorice in Geography class, so you can understand why it took him a few years to warm up to me.  By the end of highschool, we were best friends.

And the girls?  I had never seen so many in one place before.  I developed many secret crushes.  They never knew, because I never quite figured out how to talk to them!  But they were there, lots of them, and I thought maybe I’d have a shot.

The first week of school, I bought some new music:  Turbo, by Judas Priest.  I did my homework on the back porch, with that cassette on the boom box.  I only had three Priest albums:  Screaming, Defenders, and TurboTurbo was easily my favourite.  While not as heavy as the other two (and let’s face it, Screaming for Vengeance can rip heads clean off), Turbo was more the kind of music that I was into.  It was melodic, with hook after hook, and possibly even female appeal.

But soon after, something monumental happened.  Monolithic.  Youth-defining.

Iron Maiden came out with a new video.

“So, understand!” sang Bruce Dickinson in what was, quite honestly, the best video we’d ever seen.  “Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years!”  A bit of a word salad.  If a certain president said something like this today, we’d consider it another sign of his declining mental faculties.  But even to us as kids, it was obviously a road song.  A song about the loneliness of touring.  Many of the new Maiden songs were darker and introspective.  This was not lost on us.  Nor was the lack of Dickinson writing credits on Somewhere In Time.  It was clear to us that some of the rumours were true, and Maiden were starting to burn out a bit.  That they put out an album as awesome as Somewhere In Time is remarkable, but I recall an air of disappointment in the press.  Certainly, after the triumvirate of Beast, Piece of Mind, and Powerslave, it had a lot to follow.

My best friend Bob and I sat in the basement, watching my recording of “Wasted Years” over and over again, pausing to catch every single Eddie painting.  The video was a combination of black & white performance, with still photos and album artwork edited in quick flashes.  The kind of thing two kids should be obsessively pausing and analysing!  Eventually we both got the album and naturally gravitated to the same songs.  I used the lyrics for “Alexander the Great” as a calligraphy project in art class.

My friendship with Bob was the cornerstone of my youth, and as much as I looked up to and emulated him, there were times he did me no good whatsover.

One night we were throwing a ball around the park, and one of us (probably me) threw it over someone’s hedge.  Steve Pushcar’s hedge, as it turned out.  Bob jumped the fence to retrieve it, and got yelled at by Steve’s mom.  Bob said he was only getting his ball back, but this quickly degenerated into an argument.  Bob always was a bit cocky.  Whatever he said that night, Steve Pushcar went at me for the next two months.

Me?  Why me?  I was just the sidekick!  I just stood there?  I didn’t say one word!  Why me?  Because Pushcar couldn’t get at Bob, and he’d have been flattened if he tried.

Pushcar was in my art class.  First he stole my pencil case and returned it to me completely empty.  Then he stole my art.  He was a fucking asshole.  The shitty thing was, he did all this anonymously.  I didn’t even know he had a grudge against me.  Not until a mutual friend told me.  That’s the kind of coward he was.  But his campaign only lasted a couple months, and highschool was actually pretty uneventful after that.

As the year went on, I discovered two “new” bands:  Bon Jovi, and Europe. Neither were really new; they were both on their third albums.  But the teen magazines pitted them as rivals:  heartthrob vs heartthrob, Jon vs. Joey.  Who would win?  (Jon.)  Really, all they had in common musically was the use of a full time keyboardist.

Partway through the year, who should show up but Steve Hartman, my old nemesis from Catholic school.  He had transferred from wherever the hell he was.  But he couldn’t get to me.  I was in the “advanced” program and he was in the “general” level.  We had no classes together, and I think he only lasted half a year.  I do remember him showing up in our gym class, wearing his shirt over his face so the teacher wouldn’t realize he had an extra student.  We were doing ball hockey, and the teacher Mr. Paull was too spun to figure it out.  I had a malingering wrist injury that I really milked so I could stay on the benches.  As if Mr. Paull would even notice.

At the end of the year, it was obvious where my talents did not lie.  My two worst classes were French, and typing,  66% in each.  Typing?  I know, right?  I type all day.  It’s all I do.  And I still fucking suck at it.  I was never good at proper form, and today type using only four fingers.  Funny thing.  The French and typing teachers were married.  Monsieur and Madame Euler.  They were fantastic teachers, just because I was a disappointment doesn’t reflect on them.  It reflects on me absolutely sucking at languages other than English, and my lack of physical coordination.  I mean, the following year I tried to play guitar.  The same problem followed me from keyboard to strings:  I can’t make my extremities go exactly where I want them to.  I’m sloppy and clumsy and have no timing.  Madame Euler wasn’t going to be able to fix that in a grade 9 typing class.

I didn’t get any girls to talk to me, but I had a good year.  For what might have been the first time, I really had a good year.  They’d only get better.  I was heading into a summer full of great music.  Stuff like Priest Live, Frehley’s Comet, and Love Is For Suckers.  Even then, I could not believe how much my life had changed for the better.  I succeeded — I escaped.

The future was bright.  Bob and I went on to have many adventures and a few “Crazy, Crazy Nights”.  But that’s another story.






  1. Oh no, not the original Turbo cover again.

    “Wasted Years” was the first Maiden song I ever heard. I did a lyrical analysis of it in year 7 because I had the Best of the Beast two disc with the lyrics (At the time I didn’t know that the liner notes to most albums had the lyrics in them). I chose “Wasted Years” because it seemed the most positive song out of all these metal songs. I can’t remember what my reaction to it was.

    I was half-decent at French. I’ve definitely lost a bit of it in the two and a half years since I finished high school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I took Spanish and got As. As far as typing I’m somewhere in the 93-105 WPM range depending on the day and how warmed up I am. I would have been the typing Euler’s model student. I use all ten fingers, took to it quickly.

      Though in Mike’s defense I was at about 55 WPM my freshman year. Took me until later in high school to kick it up to 90 something.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was always a fairly quick typer. Occasionally I misorder letters or miss the tail ones due to my speed. Usually autocucumber picks up on it, but you know me well enough to know that it doesn’t a lot of the time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, once I got my own computer I got a lot of practice, and of course nowadays there’s no stopping it so I’ve never had a chance for my skills to get rusty. I’d like to say it was self-improvement, but it was really just a byproduct of operating that computer so fucking much. Couldn’t help but get better.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Honestly I’ve never paid much attention to it. I’m not much of a luxury guy. If something’s functional or adequate and that’s all it needs to be, I usually keep it without thinking I can do better.

          That’s not too good where relationships are concerned though. Haha. So I’m not sure I could recommend you anything as I’m not a coneisseur as you might expect, but some of those Japanear gaming keyboards are really easy on the fingers. The press down like butter and pop back up fast. Cool feeling. You may look into those.

          I never got that Kiss song. Great riff, but is Paul Stanley bragging about being a premature ejaculator?

          Liked by 1 person

      1. It was pretty shit. I misinterpreted it that’s for sure. But when my brother reached that grade he did his on Fear of the Dark, which he obviously managed to interpret properly


        1. I learned how to say a line to “Wild Child” by W.A.S.P. in Spanish and started writing it on all my tests sophomore year.

          “Soy de in criatura we amor, y no puedo ser domesticado.”

          “I’m a creature of love, and I can’t be tamed!”

          I believe that’s right. It’s been years. Sorry, Harrison. I didn’t go to bed. I couldn’t sleep again.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. All my Spanish tests I mean. Not any other subject as that wouldn’t make any sense. I do remember in college I had a really standoffish professor for algebra. No way I should have been in that class, it was way beneath my abilities. So fucking easy. So I started writing total nonsense numbers on my homework sheets and made it look like my work, and then I’d write the correct answer and circle it. I was waiting for her to get confused enough to ask me what the hell I was doing, to no avail.

          So then to mess with her I started writing weird messages in pencil on the homework as small as I could so that you had to have a magnifying glass to read it. Paragraphs like that. Still no comment.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Soy is “I am” whigh is supported with cues from other words.

          Puedo= I can

          Its root is puedar=can

          Puedes=you can

          Puedomos=we can

          So on. There are more suffixes depending on if it’s first person, second person, or third person.

          Different suffixes on words dictate who is being referred to in the sentence. Not bad for being rusty.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Autocorrect also fucked me. It is supposed to be “Soy de un… Not in.” Un is the masculine form of “a” in English. The feminine form is una, also “a” but used for ladies.


        1. Interesting. No, in our case Gumby had that nickname because somebody thought he looked like that big green guy. Nobody called him “Andy”, he was Gumby.


        1. Dude, you know how I managed it? I was walking. That’s it. End of store. One foot just folded sideways at the ankle. Did I not see above that I am clumsy and uncoordinated? LOL.

          Goddamn it man. I suck!


        2. I fucked up my ankle when I was your age in the story. 9th grade PE I landed on that fucker wrong.

          Thing is my school went to lunch in shifts, there were five shifts. The first four were all 25 minutes, but the last one was 20 minutes. Whatever your third period class was on certain days is when you would have your lunch. They gave 1st and 5th shift to classes that were harder to interrupt in the middle. So if you’re first shift you go to lunch right after second period and right before third period class. Second shift goes to third period class when 1st lunch shift is eating, only to be interrupted twenty five minutes in to class to have their turn. Twenty five minutes later third shift gets to go and so on and so forth.

          As you can imagine, shit was pretty picked clean by 5th period. And by the end of it? Forget it, man. Also you get a better table if you get your food and get to sit down first as well, so it was good to be there early. Of course PE was my third period class on B days, (we had alternating classes A and B days), so we got fucked on lunch. The gym was close to the cafeteria though so we usually were the first to get there. My friend and I were usually the very first two in line then, the poor engineering bastards who had 5th shift down the hall never had a chance.

          Anyway the day I fucked up my ankle I remember trying to limp run to the cafeteria to get a decent meal. Just a funny story from the point in my life corresponding to yours. I think I even started hopping on one foot trying to get there quicker.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Picked clean by 5th shift I mean. We had four periods a day, with different classes depending on if it was an A or B day. 1, 2, 4 were 90 minutes. And 3rd period was 120 minutes to accommodate lunch for all. That’s another way 5th shift got fucked. Everyone else got 25 minutes for lunch, we got twenty. So we had to be in class five minutes longer than anyone else. But we didn’t have to go back to class after our shift like the other shifts, because we were the last shift. We went straight to 4th period when we were done. Thank god that was the only time I ever had 5th shift, but it lasted all year.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I was pretty much a ghost throughout high school. Mainly because of me being a born again Christian at the time and thinking all my classmates simply wanted to get high and drunk and that Jesus didn’t want that. It wouldn’t be until after high school and was in the service I realized that Jesus didn’t give a shit. One piece of deja vu, the “Wasted Years” EP was the first record I bought when I got to England in 1986.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 86 I was graduating from Grade 13. Music was a big thing in my world as it is for many of us!
    You singing O Canada solo is the best man. LMFAO! That was the great thing about high school as when the semesters would change you could get away from some douche bags and not see them as much.
    It is great that music pulled you through it Mikey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That means you are George Balasz were the same age. He finished in grade 12 and he was already gone the year that I arrived in grade 9.

      I am probably the only one who remembers the O Canada incident, but I’m glad that I do! LOL

      Thanks man appreciate everybody reading along with me on this!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I have one thing I wrote a couple days ago, in an attempt to come close to the emotional level of this. That’s the challenge for me now. To really get the emotions of the story out. I think I did not. Not as powerful or as dark as this, but it doesn’t have to be does it? It was still pretty emotional though more joyful, and I think it will be a good one to read.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Grade 13? What? In Canada is Kindergarten Grade 1 or is grade 13 college? What kind of North of the Border shenanigan hijink tomfoolery is the educational system engaging in?

      Here in the States we have elementary school which is

      Kindergarden-5th Grade or sometimes 6th grade, but not as often anymore. Ages 5-11 or 5-12.

      Junior high which is 6-8th grade. Ages 11-14.

      High school 9-12th grade. Ages 14-18.

      After that nothing is numbered. It’s just college, and you’re on your own.

      And the Deke shall inherit the Earth…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Grade 13 doesn’t exist anymore, and I might have been the last year that had it. But we had Kindegarten, then grades 1-8, and then 9-13 for the advanced students. General students went up to grade 12. Basic students, I think 10 or 11.


        1. LOL never thought of it that way! Grade 13 had more advanced courses, and you used your grades that year to get into a good school. You had to have five grade 13 credits to go on to a good school like University of Waterloo, different requirements. For the computers classes you needed several maths for example. For my program general arts, I had a bunch of history and english credits. Then I majored in history. If you just wanted to go to community college you only needed grade 12.


        1. No way man, don’t inherit it. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. They can’t give this shit away now.

          Although I think we’ve all found a groove and have adjusted as best we can.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. As my good buddy Morwood says Keep on Keepin’ On. It’s what humans do. You don’t think you can go another week, but the world doesn’t think that. It keeps on turning and before you know it that week is in the past and you made it.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember grade 9 typing class as well!
    I appreciate that you still appreciated the teaching, even though the marks weren’t ‘fridge material’ in those classes too.
    The message I get from the Wasted Years line (maybe I’m interpreting it without the context of the rest of the lyrics) is to stop living in the past. Or stop trying to recreate the past, to make up for lost years.
    Sort of like advice from Wheat Kings or the Great Gatsby!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recall in my grade 9 year Mr. Euler was awarded a teaching award for… not sure exactly, it was 25 years ago, but he was in the newspapers and everything. I’ll never forget the day he was describing crepes to us. The way he said the word “light”. I wanted crepes so bad that day. LOL

      I believe your interpretation of that line is correct. In the greater context of the song, there are also lines like “another city goes by in the night”, which I think is a tour bus reference. But what I like about Maiden songs, many of them anyway, is that every interpretation can be correct.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. The thing about Gord’s lyrics is that he was so well read, and injected his history and literary readings into his lyrics. So if you’re able, you can pick up more of his intent. If you’re not (frankly like me) you can seemingly make up your own stories. It’s good rock and roll poetry!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I think your high school experience was the opposite of mine. I had so much fun my freshman year. It was the last year that we were kids basically. Like that Stand By Me quite where the dude says “I never had friends like the ones when I was 12. Shit, who does?” We were 14 going on 15, but it was really the last stand of being a kid and being entertained by silly mischief. We walked home everyday and made each other laugh, didn’t matter if it was rain, snow, or a blizzard. We hung out after school all the time. I saw friends of ffiends and our group was huge. We’d even get to school early in the morning and walk around the halls just hanging out. Our group got to be so big at one point that it actually looked like an angst mob. I think there were about 25-30 people all walking side by side in a line. People saw us turn a corner and then they looked away and looked back up a few seconds later and we were still turning the corner! Some people passing us looked genuinely intimidated, some just irritated, but we were just having a good time. Classes were easy and low stress as well, college decisions and big tests were still years off. Nothing mattered man. I think that year was the most fun I’ve ever had in school, ever. It was the last year I wouldn’t feel guilty for just letting life happen and staying in the moment, not worrying about what would come next. I think how much fun I was having reflected in my attendance rate, which was only a day or two off from being perfect. I got all A’s both semesters, top five in my class, shit was good.

    Home was also a lot better for the most part. My mum finally gave my old man the boot so I had that weight off my shoulders. I never felt so relaxed. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders, I began to feel normal without some dick trying to wreck my self-confidence all the time, and otherwise just being a bully and an intimidating asshole. So home was great except the few days he was visiting. I also got to see my mom’s side of the family a lot more since he wasn’t there to “watch after” my younger siblings anymore. Though him watching us as kids in the summer was sleeping until 3PM, then getting up and watching T.V. in the basement away from us upstairs, occasionally threating us with obscenities and physical violence if we were being too loud. So I saw my grandma every week day then, which was nice since she was babysitting my younger siblings. Also saw my maternal uncles more. Him out of the picture brought us all closer.

    Then sophomore year every started to drift apart, get new interests, cars, part time jobs, the courses got more strenuous. The fun and adventure just wasn’t there anymore. Politics also got nastier. Relationships became more important than hanging with the boys. Lost touch with almost everybody but my closest of cohorts, and even we didn’t see each other much outside of school anymore. Sophomore year was fucking horrible, home to the two worst days of my life. I stopped going for a while it got so bad because the people in my homeroom were really acting like cunts.

    So if I had to rank them based on quality.

    1. Freshman
    2. Junior
    3. Senior
    4. Sophomore

    I took a part time schedule my senior year. Came in every other day, which I sort of regret looking back. I think I’d have more good memories if I took a bunch of blowoff classes for fun with friends. Although maybe not, who knows? Maybe I was spared an all time embarrassing moment by only going half the time.


    1. Glad you asked. I’m going live off and on all day. Been on an hour and a half already and will be going live this afternoon and evening. I have 5 lists to go through


  6. Some great albums and as Snider said nothing lasts forever. I’ve always told everyone that Maiden made me want to learn. I wanted to learn about their topics in the songs. I read the Bible because of Revelations and Number Of the Beast. I researched Alexander The Great because of the song. I read the poem of the Ancient Mariner because of them and the story of the Phantom Of The Opera And Flight Of Icarus. I got an A when we studied Ancient Egypt because Powerslave made me interested in that era. I read up on the Battle Of Britain because of Aces High. That band was huge in getting me curious.


  7. This posting put me back searching through my collection and rocking back out to “Turbo” and by extension “Turbo30” which of course, you’ve reviewed here, and I have greatly enjoyed since release. “Turbo” always has a place for me as it was THE FIRST cassette I bought when I got my first car! Rocked that cassette and remember pretty much every song, lyric, and track listing! “Chromium Dioxide” cassette “tech”, to combat that meddling and creeping tech of those pesky CD’s! “Chromium Dioxide” just sounds like “this album was made under the influence of massive amounts of pure, uncut cocaine!”…which by most accounts it was! Still a favorite warm weather album! Never gets old, and totally underrated! But you know that!


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