People talk about culture shock when they travel to a foreign country, but after nine years at Catholic school, going to a public high school with only a small number of familiar faces, I’m pretty sure what I experience was culture shock.
First, the Catholic school uniform was gone, which was both awesome and terrifying, because for nine years I didn’t have to think about what I wore to school – white shirt, tie, navy pants, dress shoes. All out the window. I was definitely lost, making plenty of fashion mistakes quickly. My introverted/shy nature didn’t help. I mean, I made some friends, who ended playing football with on Saturday afternoons and taking in any sports, live or televised, that we could, but in my two years at Williamsville South my only lasting memories are of things or events, not of people.
The first, which is pictured, is that my Sophomore year I took a auto restoration class (do they still have these) and we stripped and rebuilt from the ground up a 1967 Mustang. On the last day, my teacher let me drive it around the parking lot, which was probably the most badass thing I had done in my life up until that moment.
The second is that, for one week, I was in rifle club. Now, this wasn’t going out to a rifle range, this was in the basement of the building, which when I tell people now they sort of stare in disbelief. Yes, in the basement of my high school was a shooting range. At the time, I believe using the guns was free but you had to pay a couple bucks for the bullets. I lacked the cash, and they floated me, but I never went back, so I still owe that money. The interest must be astronomical now.
The third is my writing continued to expand. I started writing letters to the editors of car magazines that I read, like Automobile and Car & Driver, and shockingly they got published. I wrote the Buffalo News about sports, and those got published. But one thing that I wanted to share that I found and am particularly fond of is an essay for my 10th Grade English class, written April 25th, 1990 and entitled “Shuffle off to Cleveland.”
For years now, I thought Buffalo would be my home for the rest of my life, but unfortunately, it isn’t. My father got a job promotion and this summer we’re leaving for Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland. The arch enemy of my favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills, lives there. This is going to be interesting next fall when I, a Bills fanatic, takes on the entire town of Cleveland. Anyone heard of Custard? But for now, I’d like to make a few observations about Buffalo and Western New York,
I’ll start with sports. Say the word Sabres in Buffalo and people start describing the team with words I can’t use in this essay. Too bad to because Buffalo fans are the most loyal in the country. The most pitiful loyalty is reserved for the Bills. Fans believe, deep down, that Buffalo is a better city if the team beats Cleveland on a given day. On mornings after a loss, some say you can feel a difference in the air around Buffalo. I’m one of them. Which brings me to my next topic, the people of Buffalo.
The people of this city are the best. They didn’t get the name ‘The City of Good Neighbors” for nothing. They’re friendly, kind, nice and polite to everyone except Boston Bruins fans. Of all the things I’m going to miss in Buffalo, its the people I’m going to miss the most.
I’m also going to miss the great place around Western New York. The great food at places like Louie’s, Anderson’s and Old Man River. Every time I go to Ja-Fa-Fa Hots I’d see a nicer antique car than the time before. There are a lot of small restaurants with great food around Buffalo.
I’m really going to miss this town. I’ve spent my life growing up here and I’m going to miss it with all my heart. Goodbye Buffalo, Hello Cleveland.
The funny thing is, I’m still the guy pushing for local restaurants and decrying “pitiful loyalty” when it comes to the Bills. Oh, teenage Tim, I wish I could convince you to become a Steelers fan, your life would be so much easier.