If we are to be defined all our lives by our high school mascots, then I suppose I am a Viking. But I’m also a Panther, having transferred schools after my freshman year.
You could imagine that it was convenient that the school colors at both institutions were the same: red, black and white. But the truth was, it didn’t matter to me a bit.
So if you were to tell me that the North Salem Vikings were going to change their name to the North Salem Fighting Banana Slugs or the North Salem Scarlet Pimpernels, my reaction would be on the level of a raised eyebrow.
There are a couple of reasons for this, the first and most obvious being that I pretty much hated high school. My alma mater was distinguished among the five public schools in the city as being the one with the lowest academic performance and the highest level of disciplinary problems. And this was the school I chose to attend. My previous school was even worse.
But even if I had felt any warm feelings toward the institution of North Salem High, I still don’t know if I ever would have caught on to that elusive thing called “school spirit.”
I was confounded by my first pep rally as a freshman in high school. Rather than being exciting, the gymnasium full of screaming kids was terrifying to me. And try as I might, I couldn’t seem to feel what everyone else was feeling. The sight of someone parading around in a Viking (or Panther) costume didn’t inspire me to any feelings of … I don’t even know what I was supposed to be feeling. I guess some sort of anticipatory pride at whatever sporting feat was about to take place.