The lovely and talented Emily Blunt delivered that line about two-thirds of the way through the charming and entertaining film The Jane Austen Book Club which I have no problem admitting I watched and enjoyed over the weekend. As soon as I heard that line though, something clicked inside of me and I jumped to my feet to grab a pen and one of the dozens of notebooks and notepads that are strewn around my desk. Funny where we get our inspiration isn't it?
I've spent the past couple of days thinking about the line and each time I do, I come to the same conclusion: It's 100% the truth. High school never does end.
It ends symbolically with graduation and literally whenever you finish that last exam, but the basic elements of high school leave the hallways and cafeterias with us and continue to exist in everyday life. Now, I'm not saying that there are groups of women walking around calling themselves The Plastics or anything like that, but the simple fact of the matter is that if you take a minute or five to examine society, I'm sure you'd agree with me on this one. Those distinct demographics John Hughes gave us in The Breakfast Club all those years ago still live on to this day. Although, the rebels aren't as boss as Judd Nelson's Bender and the ladies aren't as hard done by and wonderful as Molly Ringwald's Claire.
I'm even going to pass up on a layup in this case too and not point to colleges and universities as a proving ground of this theory, since they are basically extensions of the educational system and structure people are already coming from. Since the system and structure doesn't overly change, the dynamics and demographics don't either. The geeks remain geeks, the cool kids remain the cool kids and the rest of us float somewhere in the middle.
But even now, as a 29-year-old working stiff, there is still the presence of high school throughout society. Take the workplace for example. Most workplaces have groups. It's inevitable. You work with the same people regularly enough, they become your social network. You form a bond. You become an identifiable group. Here's how it broke down in the casino I worked in for five years:
- First and foremost, there was the obvious segregation by departments and work groups. Until people became comfortable, very few strayed outside of their own group. Slots ate with slots, cashiers with cashiers, security with security.
- Smokers all congregate together outside in whatever weather Mother Nature delivered, battling the elements for that sweet, sweet nicotine.
- The young, cool, popular people - the people who everyone knows by name even though they couldn't pick most of their colleagues out of a police lineup - did almost everything together. They ate lunch together, took their breaks together, spent their days off together, worked out together... you get the picture.
- All the middle aged people flocked to one another as well, except for the middle aged but still single and trying to pretend I'm still in my 20's group. They tried to be down with the cool kids, but ended up looking like middle aged people trying to recapture their youth more often than not.
- Married couples hung out together, as did the new and expectant parents.
- We even had a collection of computer geeks who talked about nothing other than video games and computers. Actually, that was only one guy. I miss Shawn... goofy bastard.
It's more than that though.
I talk shit about people almost every day of my life. Now it's mostly harmless and me just being a whiny bitch or complaining for the sake of complaining, but isn't that the same way that it was in high school? All smiles and "Hey" to someones face, only to meet up with your friends later and pick at their faults and misfortunes? Don't say you don't do this either... we all do this because we're all still in high school.
The jocks still play sports as often as they can, be it pickup hockey or baseball all summer long. The stoners are still doing as many drugs as they can. Some of the cool people are still pre-occupied with being cool and can be found hanging out at the same bars and clubs as always every weekend, while others grew up a little, got cool jobs and are now the cool people in their workplace too. The AV Club went on to found a dot com and got rich before the bottom fell out of the tech industry. Their now married to some of the cool girls from high school.
Just like in high school, we're always crushing on the cute girl or the mysterious boy and we always want our friends to think the new clothes we bought are wicked.
Biggest of all, when we see our old teachers out in public, we're still a little freaked out and refer to them as Sir or Miss or whatever you called your teachers in high school, even though we're all adults now and you know their actual first name.