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Sheldon Williams And A Cartoon Bear

I made an agreement with my mother when I moved to Nashville, that I would finish high school there. So at the beginning of my sophomore year, I enrolled at Antioch High School. And I genuinely thought I would see it through - going to classes by day, and gigging around Nashville at night.

The first person I met at school was my French teacher. And as luck would have it, she had heard me perform at Douglas Corner Cafe a week earlier. That woman demanded nothing of me in her classroom, and she knew that I was only there to pass. I actually saw her a couple of years later, and she somehow remembered me as a good student.

I hardly spoke to anyone at that school. It was the first time that I got to be completely invisible, and I thoroughly enjoyed the autonomy. A girl in my Calculus class gave me the nickname Boots because I was the only kid wearing cowboy boots in 1992. Not even Sheldon Williams was wearing them back then.

Sheldon was a black t-shirt kid. I don't think he had tattoos yet, but he definitely looked like he would before graduation. I remember him being as thin as me, but a little taller. His hair was long and he always wore a pair of Doc Martin's that seemed to have come from a used army surplus store. But he looked enough like his grandpa that you could see the Hank in him from down the hall. Hank III... before he was Hank III.

As always, art was my favorite class that year. I painted a Tennessee landscape that hung in the principal's office for years after. I also designed the school mascot, a cartoon bear, which was still their mascot when I went back in the early 2000's. That was my only claim to fame at Antioch High School though, considering none of the students there ever even knew my name. Sweet autonomy.

By the time I saw Sheldon again, he was Hank. And somewhere in between, he'd gotten those tattoos.

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