THE DUMB CLASS: BOOMER JUNIOR HIGH
BY MIKE HATCH
The Dumb Class opens in September of 1960 as Eddie Picatti, Bill Jones and their gang of greasers are just starting their final year of junior high school. A couple of hangers-on to the elite crowd are not invited to head cheerleader Lindy Love’s annual birthday party. They offer the gang money to vandalize the party. Then, an adult neighbor threatens Eddie for driving his go-kart wildly through the streets. The gang literally destroys the exclusive birthday party and makes an exciting escape. Later, Eddie and one of the boys detonate a jar of excrement in the cab of the neighbor’s truck in retaliation for his threat. Eddie has to do some horse-trading involving a neighborhood prostitute for protection from being beaten up by the truck owner.
Meanwhile, Eddie’s beautiful sister, Billi, breaks Bill’s heart and sends him into deep depression by breaking up after going steady for five months. Bill searches for a new girlfriend, hopefully like Eddie’s, unattractive and willing to please. Threatened with reform school, Eddie attempts suicide and is committed as a patient to the lunatic asylum wing of the hospital. As he seeks a compliant girlfriend, Bill has some unusual experiences and runs into difficulties. At the YMCA Dance, Bill rescues a wealthy female classmate nicknamed Inky from nasty pranksters. The police perform brutal interrogations on those suspected of vandalizing the birthday party.
The friends visit Eddie in the mental ward and witness some bizarre and hilarious events there. On homecoming night, a drunken confab is held in the back room of the neighborhood store. Tales of their first-time sexual experiences, novice marijuana smoking and contraband condoms keep everyone in laughter and head-shaking amazement. Inky invites Bill to an upper-crust homecoming party at Lindy Love’s parents’ lake lodge. Inebriated high school football players throw him into the freezing lake and has to swim for his life to survive. Eddie escapes from the mental ward and causes disaster for his mother’s fiancée and the man’s son who has been tormenting Eddie for months. The future looks bright for Bill as the novel ends with Inky offering him a promising invitation. A sequel is coming.
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