Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Every Picture Tells A Story – The Blunder Years (Part 1)

When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school --- mama don’t take my Kodachrome away – Paul Simon

In anticipation of our 40th-year high school reunion, Carol thought it would be a swell idea if everyone used their senior yearbook photograph as their Profile Picture on Facebook. I thought this was a horrible, massively horrible, idea.  However, since I was helping organize the reunion, I felt pressured to comply.  Ironic that high school reunions enable us to relive our high school experience and now as a result of this, I was feeling peer pressure. Wonderful!

I actually liked my photo when it was taken, but over the years I had come to find it rather distasteful.  I could never imagine the circumstance that would cause me to ever post this thing on the Internet, where millions of people around the world could all simultaneously spit out their respective breakfasts’ when this hideous image popped up on their screens.

Maybe no one will actually do this, I hoped.  But then profile pics from dozens of classmates started hitting my Facebook feed.  Maybe I will not be able to find a photo to post, I reasoned.  I wasn’t going to search the attic, where somewhere there are numerous copies. My best bet was to find a worn, wallet-size version, which I saved in an old manila folder years ago.  I thought it would take some time to search for it, which was fine.  I wanted to be able to tell my classmates, “I tried to find the pic, looked everywhere for over 30 minutes, but no luck.”

I made a big mistake when I asked my wife for help finding that folder. “Why don’t you check the box in the office that has your mother’s old stuff?” she asked.  Three minutes, in three minutes, I was holding a six-by-nine framed copy of the notorious photo.  Now I remember, this photo was always prominently and proudly displayed in her living room until her health deteriorated. The photo most certainly wasn’t hideous to her.  Instead it was tangible proof that I was cherished.  I was her only child, a child she never, ever, thought she would have.  The photo was part of her “shrine” to me.  So while I hated seeing that photo each time I visited, it was actually my mother’s way of telling me how much she loved me.  Why is it that we only see certain messages, long after the messenger is gone?

I carefully remove the photo, scan it, and position it in the Facebook profile, still I am hesitant to post it.  My wife walks by, sees me staring apprehensively at the screen, and asks if everything is alright. “Oh, everything is fine”, fine until …… click.

So here’s the pic.  I thought it might cause a reaction on Facebook, but I wasn’t ready for this. The photo blew up my little section of the Internet.  Here, it was even bigger than Kim Kardashian’s butt.  Okay, nothing is bigger than that, but you get the idea.  I have never posted anything on Facebook that came close to generating this much interest.  The final total: 112 “Likes” and 48 comments.

Of course a popular topic of conversation was the abundant hair of my youth.  People usually don’t believe me when I tell them I once had long, flowing, hair.  Now I do have proof.  My Facebook friends pointed out that I had nice tresses.  Several people questioned whether I was wearing a wig.  Others wondered how it was possible to lose that much hair and still be alive.   One guy sarcastically asked how I managed to create the “side poofs”, this I commented back, was accomplished by the use of something called “an electric comb”.

The haircut was known as a “Dutch Boy”.  This style let me grow my hair long without parting it down the middle.  My hair does, oh excuse me, did not naturally part down the middle.  And guys in the Kenmore class of 1976 did not use hairspray.  If you were ever caught using hairspray, you would have been labeled, excuse my strictly 70’s parlance, a f@g.  All my college photos show my hair parted down the middle, due to a more refined, accepting, environment. 

And yes, the sport coat is ugly by today’s standards, but the 70’s was a decade of horrible clothes. At one time I had a pair of green plaid pants, cuffed, of course.  I even wore platform shoes, and at nearly 6’4”, the last thing I needed was to be any taller.  I still remember banging my head into doorways, hard enough to see stars, because of those ridiculous shoes. But I wore them anyways, because it was the 70’s.  I only could afford a couple sport coats, so this was my best one, and it was considered rather snazzy at the time.

However, I was amazed by the tremendously positive response to the pic from the ladies.  Apparently, I was a stud back then and didn’t even realize it!   The younger women liked the pic, the more seasoned ladies like the pic, even some foreign chicks liked it. Yes, all types of women, many of them who are indeed, “hot”, were grooving to that 70’s guy.

My former classmate Mike claimed that the reason he couldn’t get a date in high school was because all the hotties were only interested in me. Someone else compared me to Prince, Prince Valiant.  Gail posted that “Kim had the biggest crush on you”.  That one actually brought a tear to my eye. Kim was a sweet, pretty, girl and I had no idea she liked me, but sadly  she was one of the first of our classmates to pass away. 

 And not only was I a stud, I was also a rock star.  Several people asked if I was one of the Beatles.  Yes, I was the fifth Beatle, the one who couldn’t sing or play guitar.  Another person thought I was in the Partridge Family.  Yeah, that’s it, I was Donny Partridge.  Unfortunately, I got kicked out of the group after I was caught “practicing” in the back of the road van with Susan Dey – ba- ba, ba, ba - ba,ba - ba,ba,ba.  But by far the strangest comment was that I had the Justin Bieber look down, years before he did.  But if that were true, there would have been girls swooning over me in high school and I’m sure I would
Donnie Bieber?
have remembered that. If Bieber did steal my look and make millions, he will soon be hearing from my attorney.

The marvelous response on Facebook caused me to take a new look at this photo from a detached, more objective, perspective.  Well, the kid looks much more handsome than I ever remember seeing in any mirror.  I guess teenage girls aren’t the only ones with appearance image issues.  The kid also appears very happy, but that is partially an illusion. I was happy, but not “that” happy.  I remember the photographer being smokin’ hot and when she smiled at me and told me to smile back, this is the look you got. You see, some things never change.

I also see a young man with tremendous potential, something I never realized at that time.  I had a lot more going for me, than I ever knew.  This lack of confidence did hinder me some, but I have still done very well.  No one ever achieves their full potential, but over the last three years I’ve accomplished much. So it took the kid a long time, but he finally got there, and getting there is what matters most.

And after all those admiring comments from the ladies, I am considering losing 80 pounds and growing my hair back out into that Dutch Boy.  I think I’ll skip the jacket, though. Shouldn’t take me that long …. 


  1. Prince Valiant? You mean Freddie Prinze Sr - you'll need to add a "stache" though - both Mus and the rolling kind to carry the part. What you really need to post is your Spock picture. NOTHING beats your Spock picture ... in any altered universe

  2. What a funny post.

    It's interesting to see how certain things like hairstyles come back into style. :)