A Peek at My High School Yearbook: How on Earth Did I Pass my FBI Background Check?

With all of the intense scrutiny Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook received from the Senate Judicial Committee last week; I just had to take a look at my old high school yearbook to see what kind of reproachful and censorious information it contained about me.

After looking at it the other day, I wonder how I passed the FBI background check for my U.S. Army Security Agency Top Secret & Crypto security clearance back in the 1960s.

There were some pretty spicy comments in there, especially from former girlfriends. One girl even thanked me because in the biology class we took together “you knew all the answers.”

I can only assume she meant answers to biology tests. Of course, in today’s hyper-sensitive world that cryptic statement could mean a lot of things. Ahem.

Other girlfriends said they were happy to have known me and thanked me for the “good times” we had together. What did they mean by THAT? Did I do something inappropriate? Hmmmm. Well, let me see. There were those times when we used to “make out” in the backseat on double dates. . . .

Sometimes we even (gasp) drank 3.2% beer that I used to buy illegally (uh oh!) before I was 18—the drinking age in Kansas. I don’t ever recall barfing or ralfing after a few cans of the insipid stuff like Judge Kavanaugh has been accused of doing, but I’m sure all of us (our girlfriends included) got a buzz on. Then we had to consume mass quantities of Sen-Sen mints before going home to hide the telltale beer pong on our breaths.

I have wracked my brain trying to recall any gang rape parties that I might have attended, and for the life of me, I can’t recollect any. I am pretty sure I never attended any in which I was the featured attraction. Of course, something as hazy and ambiguous as a gang rape is undeniably challenging to recall. I do remember going to a lot of sock hops in the high school gym during which guys and girls removed their shoes (gulp) and danced in our socks (how salacious and naughty).

Then there were those evenings at Winstead’s in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza where several of us unruly and rowdy couples would stuff ourselves into a booth and be crushed against one another while we drank malted milks and wolfed down fries and steakburgers. I do recall once dropping ketchup on my date’s new crinoline pink and white poodle skirt. Boy, was she pissed. But she still gave me a goodnight kiss when I walked her to her door. So all was well. At least, I think it was. . . .

Okay, back to my yearbook. It was called “The Indian.” I know, I know. Not politically correct. In fact, those of us who attended Shawnee-Mission North (my high school in the Overland Park, Kansas suburbs of Kansas City) were called “The Indians” as opposed to some politically safe name like the wildcats or the cyclones.

Were we really “Indians?” I’m pretty sure there wasn’t one real Native American in the entire student body. It was, without a doubt, the most shocking form of cultural appropriation, and for that, I apologize. But wait! Shawnee-Mission North is still “The Indians,” and the logo is still a Native American wearing a war bonnet. Oh well. No need to apologize, after all. That association won’t get me denounced and pilloried by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But back to my misspent youth when I was going to all of those risqué sock hops, making out in the back seat of jalopies, having “good times” with girlfriends, and providing them with “all the answers.”

Given all of the terrible things I did when I was 16, 17, and even 18, I wonder how I was able to live a mostly efficacious and praiseworthy life—first as an intelligence operative in the U.S. Army, then as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, and then as a Professor and Dean of journalism at the University of Illinois. Will wonders never cease?

I can only imagine what my life would have been like had I been subjected to the same rapacious grilling that Judge Kavanaugh endured at the hands of some of the members of the Senate Judicial Committee.

If all of my teenage years had been disclosed publicly, I’m pretty sure I would have been disqualified by the Court of Public Opinion, let alone from the Supreme Court of the United States.

But wait. I don’t even have a law degree. Oh, well. Never mind.

 

 

 

 

 

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