I thought I was done with cliques in high school.


I know you know life in high school is seldom fun for everyone. In fact, unless you’re in one of the cool cliques or you’re so self confident you don’t care, it may not be much fun at all. I attended Caverna high school in rural Horse Cave, KY. in the early 80s. There were 63 people in my graduating class.

Our standard cliques at the time:

  • The jocks (same group since 5th grade and usually the same for all sports)
  • The cheerleaders (same group since 5th grade)
  • The smarties (today’s nerds)
  • The party crowd (today’s stoners)
  • The good ol’ boys (it is the south after all)
  • Then you had the rest of us. Not part of an official clique, we were friendly, smart, fun and more than willing to hang out with anyone in any of the “official cliques”

I survived high school never being an official member of any of these cliques. I played on the tennis team, but by no means would I ever be considered a jock; was always too fat to even think about being a cheerleader; I made pretty much all As and Bs but definitely was not in with the smarties; partied some in high school (what else do you do in small town, USA?) but definitely wasn’t part of that crowd either. Oh, I had friends. Several, we were part of the unofficial “chubsters” clique. 

Fast-forward nearly 30 years to present day and I find there are still cliques everywhere. Even at the dog park! Maybe it’s just Franklin, but somehow I doubt it. I’m sure by now you know we’ve adopted two shelter dogs. Sweet, cute, lovable fur balls, Geordie who is a one year old Scottie mix who loves to chase tennis balls and Brady who is a four year old Cocker Spaniel who is adorable but still seems a little lost as to why his original family gave him up (who knows?) Now that we have two sweet, young, active boys who need frequent exercise, the dog park has become a very regular hangout for us. Just like taking your kids to the playground and meeting other parents, the same thing happens at the dog park. You tend to see the same people with the same fur babies and you can’t help but strike up conversations. We’ve been going to the same dog park multiple times every week since October and let me tell you cliques are alive and well at the dog park!

First, let me be clear, I love [nearly] all dogs, their owners, well, maybe not always so much. The groups I have observed are very near to the cliques in high school:

  • The jocks (these tend to be the single guys who bring Boxers, Rottweilers, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherds, Pit Bulls and other big dogs) The dogs tend to be focused on running, running and a little more running. The owners tend to drink red bull or other energy drinks, have a permanent five o’clock shadow and pay little attention to what their dog is doing.
  • The cheerleaders (these tend to be young ladies who are dressed and made up as if they were going out on date night who bring the mini dogs such as Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Mini Poodles, etc.) The dogs nearly always have matching collars, leashes, sweaters and bags. Many of them act like they’ve never been on grass before and have no idea how to react when another dog barks at them or tries to play. The owners tend to drink Starbucks, carry designer bags and stand in one corner of the park with the other cheerleaders holding their dogs and speaking to them and the other dogs in some sort of strange baby language.
  • The smarties (this is a wide variety of breeds) Both the dogs and owners are pretty quiet, they stay to themselves and are heavily concentrated on mastering the jumps, ramps and tricks at the park.
  • The party crowd (adolescent and young 20 somethings who tend to come in packs, like this is a group date.) They come with dogs of all shapes and sizes, usually 4-6 people with 2-3 dogs. They hang out in a corner of the park while the dogs run completely crazy.
  • The good ol’ boys (we are still in the south afterall; these tend to be the single dog moms or dads with big fun dogs like Goldens, Labs, standard size Poodles and Schnauzers.) This is the group Reo and I and our dogs best identify with – they usually have a coffee mug in hand and dog treats in their pocket. The dogs love to run, play, bark, chase balls and sometimes wrestle. The parents like to talk sports, weather, and watch their dogs run, play, bark, chase balls and sometimes wrestle.

I love to people watch and frequently when I have a break from throwing the tennis ball non-stop for Geordie, I’ll stand back and watch the cliques and how they work.

While writing this, I can’t help but think that over the years, I’ve now become a part of another clique, one I’m really proud of – the bariatric or WLS clique. Now before anyone feels the need to draw the parallel, trust me, yes, I am fully aware that among WLS patients all the cliques listed above, the jocks, the cheerleaders, the smarties, the party crowd and the good ol’ boys are alive and well; however, I would argue these are more sub-cliques of the greatest clique of all – the one where we’ve taken responsibility for our lives, we’ve made profound decisions to affect our health and as we joined the WLS clique, that provided a conduit for us to also join one of the sub-cliques we always wanted to be a part of in high school. 

Pretty profound for only one cup of coffee and 6 AM in the morning, right? Off to work where those same cliques can be found!


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