It must have been my freshman year in high school. Frampton's live album was all the rage that bicentennial year. Perhaps it was the winter of '77. I was a scrawny short nothing: the quiet kid in the back row of the advanced English class. The weird kid who turned red whenever a girl spoke to him.
Miss Parker was teaching about poetry. She told how a poem came in many forms from traditional to the plays of Shakespeare to a song. Our assignment was to find a poem that we liked, that spoke to us as a person. We would read our poems to the class.
I had been reading a significant number of books about the Revolutionary War, it was,as I mentioned, the bicentennial. Somewhere I had acquired a thin tome of writings related to the Revolution: Patrick Henry's Liberty or Death speech, essays by Paine, and Emerson's Concord Hymn. Perfect. That was a poem!
The day came. The first girl stood up to read her poem. She read lyrics from a Peter Frampton song. I sat smugly, I had a real poem. Everyone would see how smart I was, finding a poem that marked our country's revolutionary struggles.
The next girl also read lyrics from Frampton Comes Alive. So did the next. A guy read lyrics from another song. My head began to pound. Another girl read song lyrics. Another student read more Frampton. Panic starts slow and builds. At fourteen embarrassment is the worst possible outcome to any situation. More lyrics. I hated that fucking Frampton guy.
Just a few students left. Look down, Joe. Maybe Miss Parker will forget about you. No. My turn. My brain screams "Turn it to your advantage". I take a superior tone and tell the class I have a "real" poem of historical significance. I read my Emerson. Blank faces stare at me, even Miss Parker has that WTF? look on her face. Oh god, I'm the weird kid. Loser, geek, nerd, spaz, "didja hear about Joe Hoosierboy?", dork.
The final two or three students read their poems to the class. All read song lyrics, my memory says they read Frampton, but I was in catatonic embarrassment shock. Woe. I was very short. Very skinny. Couldn't play basketball. Read some kind of weird-ass poem in freshman English class. It was going to be a long four years of high school, but I was sure of two things -- I would never ever knowingly take a poetry class in the future and Peter Frampton was an asshole..