Fetal Pig Syndrome

A lot was changing from the summer of ’75 until well into my sophomore year at the Big High School that fall.

My neighborhood friend Dan had been working nights as a busboy at Minnetonka Beach’s prestigious Lafayette Club. He said he made great money there, enough to buy a portable black and white TV, which I recall wowed me no end.

The Lafayette Club was—and still is—an impressive place. Surrounded by a golf course, the clubhouse sits on a promontory jutting out into Lake Minnetonka’s Crystal Bay.

At the time, I’d probably been complaining about the ungodly early hours of my Minneapolis Star-Tribune paper route, so Dan agreed to see about getting me in as a busboy at the Club.

Thing was I needed to be 16, and was only 15 at the time.

So when Dan said that Jeanne, the night banquet manager, agreed to interview me for the job, he told me to lie about my age. I was nervous about being able to pull that off, since I didn’t want to get as far as an interview and not get the job.

Jeanne was a large, somewhat sour-faced woman whose demeanor made lying to her all the more difficult. The interview was more of “fill out this application,” then a brief chat in the hallway beside the time clock while Dan looked on. Since all this took place in 1975, I have no record of the exact start date, but it must’ve been in the summer.

I was told I could start right away, Dan assuring her that he’d train me in. I remember the musty locker room upstairs, full of broken glass and dead flies in the window sill, where I tried on my first “monkey suit,”—a orange-gold busboy jacket with black buttons and trim. My sophomore year was then launched with one-night-a-week, occasional Saturday nights and often Sunday brunch work hours, which meant I’d have money for savings (college, the ‘rents insisted) and some fun stuff like movies or concerts.

The first day of high school was rough. It seemed bigger, louder—hallways packed with kids, unfamiliar faces and new teachers. I retreated to the quiet of the school library, which we called “The Fishbowl” because it was in the lower level and could be viewed from windows surrounding it above.

There I read Thoreau’s Walden and dreamt I lived somewhere far away from my hometown, from other kids, from all the noise.

On that first day, I ran into church friend Loren, a junior, who immediately told me to follow him to “the place to be”—the Music Resource Center or, as we called it, the MRC. All my soon-to-be stoner friends hung out there, but because musicians like to hang, the band and choir teacher got together and stipulated that everyone in the MRC had to be a member of either or both programs. I’d forsworn the cornet after junior high, so opted for choir, even though I couldn’t sing a note. Mr. Hotvet, the gruff and officious choir teacher, immediately sent me to the bass section.

Morning homeroom was run by Mrs. Butterfield—a slight, bird-like young woman who bore a striking resemblance to Rush’s Geddy Lee. Butterfield was co-teacher of the Biology classes, focusing mostly on the lab sections while her other half, Mr. Anderson, a tall, graying stone-faced man whose lisp seemed to us to betray his sexual orientation, gave the lectures and ran the movie projector. Every week was a new biology topic, with “Female Reproductive System” being a big hit with the boys.

In the weeks ahead, I’d be working at the Club, hanging out with new musician friends, getting into more trouble than I’d ever wanted, and—on a cold Biology lab day in winter 1976, issued my first (and only) fetal pig to dissect.

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~ by completelyinthedark on July 10, 2011.

2 Responses to “Fetal Pig Syndrome”

  1. I think that I was a caddy at the Club at the same time you were working there. But I was always there in the mornings when golfers were going out to play. I used to be able to walk or ride my bike there.

    As for the MRC, although I was 1 year behind you, I think you were one of the first people I met there. I guess that would’ve made me one of your “stoner” friends!

    Great post Mike. Brought back tons of memories. Thanks!

    Like

    • Well, the next couple posts about “degrees of stonerhood.” “Burnout,” you were not. Neither was I.

      Like

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