Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thinking today about my St John's School career

I grew up in Houston and went to an exclusive private school called St John's from 1st grade through 10th grade, at which point I transferred to Lamar High School, literally across the street but worlds away.
My SJ career was pretty poor on the grades side of things. I remember the day, near the middle of 2nd grade, that I was assigned too much work and couldn't finish it. This made me kind of mad, especially since some kids had no trouble at all with it. Others were more like me, and there were kids dropping out and getting held back every year. It was at that point that I realized that I really didn't have to do all that work. It was also then that I decided not to do it all unless it was reasonable, in my mind. Thus was the first chapter of the end of my SJ career.
Fast forward through years of crappy grades and good teachers, great classmates, fistfights, mediocre athleticism and a serious problem communicating with females (until about 7th grade when I became better friends with some of the new girls- our class size doubled in 7th- and also with some rebellious and brilliant types such as Whitney Vaughan)
Through all these years my old friends were, one by one, leaving SJ to go to other schools, mostly private, and they were replaced with the best and brightest Houston had to offer. No diversity, of course, but seriously smart people. Meanwhile, David Beebe went from being average to basically being one of the "dumber" kids. Not having a photographic memory and also having an imagination that runs wild while I read was a double whammy for me. By the time I was asked to and agreed to "consider leaving" I was ready to go for sure. I approached every day at school starting near the end of 7th grade as a new adventure and made sure to have as much fun as possible. Even my parents had to laugh when I was busted skipping study hall given detention for "lounging with the girls" on a back lawn. Not so funny for me was the "Saturday Work Hall" I received for streaking down River Oaks Blvd one day after school hours and not on school property. That was the point at which it was explained to me that I was a representative of the St John's family 24/7 and that I could and would be held responsible at school for things that could happen out of school. Needless to say, I had a whole lot of crazy but harmless stuff my friends and I were doing on a near daily basis that would have qualified for punishment under those terms. It was time to go.
Ironically, I am still on great terms with St John's and never really was on bad ones, even as I walked out the door for the last time as a student. And even more ironically, in the company of certain people in Houston, my actions in life (most of my public activities have been pretty positive) still do reflect indirectly on St John's. Wow.

Lastly, I just recently attended my St John's 20th class reunion and it was amazing. We always had a really strong and fun class. We still do and, not surprisingly, everyone is doing really well and looking good doing it. I would not trade Lamar for anything- best move I ever made- except maybe going to UT- but St John's does actually pretty much live up to its billing- especially if your kid is about 20% smarter than I am! - David


Nelson said...

I still have really ambiguous feelings about SJS. Great education, no doubt, but I was so miserable there. Partly just the angst of being a teenager, but my experience in college socially was so opposite from high school I can't help but think the SJS community wasn't a great fit for me.

I've got no such ambiguity about you, though! You always seemed to be the guy who was having the most fun. Just a little nutty, but really enjoying things. SJS was pretty tough on us kids but that never seemed to bother you. Also I still can't see an RC Cola without thinking of you and smiling.

I enjoy following along on your blog. I'm working on a private pilot license now, maybe some day I'll fly into Marfa and say hola.

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Michael Nicholson said...

Don't worry my mother complained about how the "rich" kids could get away with almost anything such as leaving a class to go to another and call the teacher a fa**ot and other things. Although for the 7th Grade Texas trip Lenny Gollub who was real popular with the chicks because he could take them to TJ Crumps and Peter Frampton and stuff was told by Mr. Garwood that he couldn't have sex with Kelly Jones in the spare Motel 6 room while Dance Fever and Mattel Football was playing in the other rooms because that would be too obvious and he would get him in trouble with the parents. So when my mother didn't complain as much my wild Imagination that made me called the best in class in English was reduced to a B- or C+ and the rich kids would laugh at me for being stupid because they always got 100s. I think Mrs. Rhoda got married to one of these parents and got the school a kilm room for clay pots and stuff because she was real big on Kilms and color wheels like they were the key to a good life. Then all of a sudden in 9th Grade I was taken into the head guy's office and he said that I had made a lot of trouble for myself by talking about certain students and that I was going to be made very sorry. And so after that all my grades were F and my papers were shown up as the worst in class and the kids were set against me. And Lenny Gollub got 100s on all his papers and they were shown as the best in class. And I think he got to do it with Kelly Jones too! And then after 9th Grade I was sent to Mrs. Pryor at Lamar who made the final in Geometry so we couldn't pass it because Julie Webb had a private tutor and her black boys couldn't have one.

The Donny said...

You realize that this post just adds fuel to the fire that you are the real Max Fisher...

Here is the sequel- the rich kid has you working for his music club Bill Murray bought him. Crazy Mike is doing the swap and shop next door because you know that Wes loves the detail stuff in the background. And things go wrong so to get revenge and to do right for this Action Packed City- now my fav Houston song- you run for mayor and win and have some crazy agenda to stop the rich kid and also you take out all of his soft drink and replace them with RC and also make it law that after 9 PM you can only order Pearl at the old school music clubs. And in the end Fineona realizes you are an amazing guy after all and she comes back to be a combo secretary for you and Bingo chick and all is well in our action packed city and for you.

But the real life Max would be you moving back to Houston to live in the Hotel complex they are putting up in the Astrodome in the club you design and have wacky adventures that only you can pull off and with your choice of food and drinks and lots of free stuff. And maybe because the place will be new I won't be bared there for drinking RC in an unspecified zone and you will play the 60+ minute jam version of Wilson Picket for me on New Years with Finenona calling the numbers and me getting the magic number call for the Mac Daddy. That would be sweet!!! I probably will still be banned from talking and scared to open my mouth in case Mr. Grey decks me and Carrie will tell me I'm so weird because I never talk like Donnie Darko- but you know- what can I say except the Little Golden Book of the Power Puffs I have in my bookshelf has Mojo Jojo in it even if my PowerPuffs coffee mug I got at the 99 cent store does not....
Man, I miss Crazy Mike and the good ol' days before everything went so horribly wrong.

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