Monday, January 07, 2008

A Dozen to Climax: Memories of high school days

Warning, this is a PG-13 post! I’m sure Murf, my alter-ego, will have a field day with it. The map shows our travel and the location of Liberty and Climax, towns that are now “by-passed." If you click on the map, you can read the town names.

It doesn’t seem like it’s been over thirty years, but much has changed since I graduated from high school. Sometimes I look back longingly for those carefree days, other times I remember all the awkward moments and think I’d never want to go back.

Things had settled down by my senior year in high school, meaning there were no race riots that year. I graduated in ’75. That January I turned 18 and was required to register for the draft. I kept putting it off and finally, after a couple of months, did my civic duty and received a lecture how I could have been arrested for being so late (I think you had 30 days after you turn 18 to register). I wasn’t too worried about it; the country hadn’t drafted anyone in a few years and South Vietnam was in the process of falling to the North. Yet, I can’t say I was completely unpatriotic as I was taking Junior ROTC (a program that served as my inoculation from a military career). I was reluctant to take a third year of ROTC my senior year, but having already done the first two years my mother encouraged me to go ahead and finish it out. I did, but I was really just putting in time. As a member of the school debate team, I sought my identity there, causing me to be a bit schizophrenic. As the only one in ROTC also involved in debate, I was teasingly called JB (for John Birch) by others on the team. Likewise, as the only debater in ROTC, those in uniform nicknamed me Fidel (after our favorite Cuban dictator).

The good thing about being on the debating team was that we got to go out-of-town once a month for overnight tournaments. Another thing allowed back then was that those of us who were seniors got to drive the school vans on these debating trips. Most of the debating tournaments were held in the High Point, Greensboro, Winston-Salem area. There were no freeways down to the coast back in ’75, and we’d wind our ways through small towns to our destination. Once we left Siler City, the trip heated up. Next, the road took us through the town of Liberty. With the country still in a hangover from the 60s, liberty meant a particular kind of freedom that was augmented by a special site just down the road from Liberty, the infamous “Horney Livestock Auction” (their sign featured the heads of two pigs in love, their snouts crossed). By now the van was steaming as we headed through the hamlet of Climax. Moans could be heard from the back of the van (this was long before the release of the movie “When Harry Met Sally”). As we pulled out of the town, the driver would be congratulated on a job well done. He’d just taken the taken the entire team to Climax. All the rest of the day, other teams would look at us in wonder as the driver walked around like a rooster continuing to be congratulated for his feat that morning. There must be something about being young; I’ve never since had an opportunity to take twelve people to Climax.

We always had a good time on these trips. Nights were especially exciting as we’d all crowd into a single room for a party. We stayed in cheap motels, many of which had 25 cent vibrators on the beds. I can attest to the fact that these vibrators don’t work when you have twelve or so people piled onto the bed. But before it was too late, our teachers would come by, separating the boys from the girls and sending us to bed so that we’d be fresh and alert from the next days rounds.

We decided we wanted our team picture for the yearbook to be taken in front of the Horny Livestock sign. We all stood up proudly. Us guys wore double knit leisure suits (we were required to wear suits and the leisure suit, which now seem so ridiculous, were our suits of choice). The gals wore short skirts, very short as was the fashion then. The picture didn’t make it pass the yearbook censors and at the last minute, in order to get our pictures in the yearbook, we had all borrow sport coats from the drama closet and have our picture retaken, this time in front of a sundial. I wish I had gotten a copy of the photo by the livestock sign. In my mind that picture still symbolizes my senior year.


  1. Your alter-ego is an unbaptized Yankee female?!? Your grandmother better not find that out. :-)

    That was probably the last time you had 12 people in your bed too, eh? So how many people can you have in a vibrating bed and have it vibrate?

  2. As murf said: So how many people can you have in a vibrating bed and have it vibrate?

    ...inquiring minds want to know! :o)

  3. Murf, when my topic has obvious sexual overtones, you don't make a big deal about it--

    Murf and Karen, we weren't the science kids, they'd been the ones trying that experiment (in the name of science, of course), or maybe the thing was good and broke and never worked again, I don't remember.

  4. And here I thought you were a nice country boy.

    Great story! (Did they really call you Fidel??)

  5. Amusing post, Sage! I never took 12 people to Climax either, but I wish I had tried.....LOL

  6. I'm unpredictable, aren't I? ;-) I prefer to pick out sexual overtones in topics where you didn't intend on having such overtones.

  7. Scarlet, I hate to admit this to my only known Cuban reader, but yes, they called me that I even took it as a badge of honor!

    Kenju, you don't live far away, rent a 15 passenger van and surprise friends on your trip down through the countryside!

    Yes Murf, you're becoming predictable, sometimes :)

  8. What a coincidence, I've been to Climax with a group of friends too, but in Minnesota up near the border with North Dakota. Who would of thunk there were two towns by the name.

  9. Climaxing 12 at one time!!!! You are the Man!!!

  10. "There must be something about being young; I’ve never since had an opportunity to take twelve people to Climax."

    You have to wonder if the word carried that meaning when the place was named. It was probably named by some kid who was bragging about where he did it with some chick.

  11. Sage, there's a Climax, Michigan out your way. I think you should take 13 people there and relive your youth and set an all time record. :-)

  12. Ed, you generally think of the Amish in PA with all their interesting names for hamlets like "BlueBalls" and "Intercourse." But is seems there are plenty of "Climaxs" around too.

    Pat, Thanks, I like the sound of that! lol

    Diesel, yeah, it makes you wonder. There's another little hamlet in North Carolina called "Whynot" At the meeting to decide the name for the post office, everyone kept saying "why not..." Needless to say, the town hasn't exactly boomed.

    Murf, I'm too old for that! but I'll have to look the town up.

  13. kenju said "I never took 12 people to Climax either, but I wish I had tried"


  14. BAAAH! LOL - too funny, and the comments too

  15. Horny Livestock? I was innocently scrolling down and those two words flashed before my eyes like a beacon in the night sky!

  16. The Climax sign always make me giggle!

  17. ROFL! What a great story! You should write a short story about this group and title it "Horny Livestock."

    This must be why the seniors at my kids' school still have to ride the activity bus (this = the urge to pile 12 people in one bed).

    Speaking of short stories, I've paged you for some advice over on my blog. And any other literature lovers here on Sage's blog are welcome to offer advice too. I get to plan my own contemporary literature class for the summer... with no curriculum requirements by my department! =o)

  18. Karen, according to Murf, we've got our own Climax right here in the Mitten State (wonder if any of the candidates will campaign there)

    Murf, if you must know, no.

    Kontan, sometimes the comments make the post!

    Mistress, now what drew that to your eyes?

    Deana, do you have any stories of this hamlet?

    Jaded, I dropped a few suggestions off in your blog.

  19. Your senior year sounds infinitely more interesting than mine. All the towns around our burg were French, so the trips weren't as amusing.

    As always, you've related it with verve and grace.

    Popped by from Michele's to wish you an easy start to the week.