Back at Chelsey High it was the same. One group of seniors had
graduated but they were replaced by another group of seniors with sports
cars and expensive clothes. I was never confronted by them. They left me alone, they ignored me. They were busy with the girls. They never spoke to
the poor guys in or out of class.
About a week into my second semester I talked to my father over dinner.
“Look,” I said, "it’s hard at school. You’re giving me 50 cents a week
allowance. Can’t you make it a dollar?”
“A dollar?”
He put a forkful of sliced pickled beets into his mouth and chewed.
Then he looked at me from under his curled-up eyebrows,
“If I gave you a dollar a week that would mean 52 dollars a year, that
would mean I would have to work over a week on my job just so you
could have an allowance.”
I didn’t answer. But I thought, my god, if you think like that, item by
item, then you can’t buy anything: bread, watermelon, newspapers, flour,
milk or shaving cream. I didn’t say any more because when you hate, you
don’t beg . . .
Those rich guys like to dart their cars in and out, swiftly, sliding
up, burning rubber, their cars glistening in the sunlight as the girls
gathered around. Classes were a joke, they were all going somewhere to college, classes were just a routine laugh, they got good grades, you seldom saw them with books, you just saw them burning more rubber, gunning from the curb with their cars full of squealing and laughing girls. I watched them
with my 50 cents in my pocket. I didn’t even know how to drive a car.
Meanwhile the poor and the lost and the idiots continued to flock
around me. I had a place I liked to eat under the football grandstand. I had
my brown bag lunch with my two bologna sandwiches. They came around, “Hey, Hank, can I eat with you?”
“Get the fuck out of here! I’m not going to tell you twice!”
Enough of this kind had attached themselves to me already. I didn’t
much care for any of them: Baldy, Jimmy Hatcher, and a thin gangling Jewish kid, Abe Mortenson. Mortenson was a straight-A student but one of the biggest idiots in school. He had something radically wrong with him. Saliva kept forming in his mouth but instead of spitting on the ground to get rid
of it he spit into his hands. I don’t know why he did it and I didn’t ask. I
didn’t like to ask. I just watched him and I was disgusted. I went home with
him once and I found out how he got straight A’s. His mother made him stick his nose into a book right away and she made him keep it there. She made him read all of his school books over and over, page after page. “He must pass
his exams,” she told me. It never occurred to her that maybe the hooks were wrong. Or that maybe it didn’t matter. I didn’t ask her.
It was like grammar school all over again. Gathered around me were the weak instead of the strong, the ugly instead of the beautiful, the losers instead of the winners. It looked like it was my destiny to travel in their company through life. That didn’t bother me so much as the fact that I seemed irresistible to these dull idiot fellows. I was like a turd that drew flies instead of like a flower that butterflies and bees desired. I wanted
to live alone, I felt best being alone, cleaner, yet I was not clever enough to rid myself of them. Maybe they were my masters: fathers in another form. In any event, it was hard to have them hanging around while I was eating my bologna sandwiches.

Other works by Charles Bukowski...