Written By Beverly Boone
Long before Grey’s Anatomy made popular the term “McDreamy” to describe over-the-top good looking males (also known as cutie pies, hunks, hotties, eye candy, and hot biscuits) who have a tingling impact on ogling females, I can still remember my friends and I gazing hypnotically at the “McDreamies" entering the halls of Peabody High School. Indeed, high school boys ruled the hearts of middle school girls at Peabody because they were always so close; yet, so far away.
Home for students in Grades 1-12, Peabody's campus captured our bittersweet coming of age experiences. Long before we were Black or African-American, we were colored children living in the segregated community of Montgomery County, NC. Once colored children reached high school age, they were bused to Peabody, location of the only colored high school in Montgomery County.
Like most 11 and 12 year old girls, I constantly begged my mother to let me wear my hair “down loose” to school (no braids); to indulge my desire to wear makeup, mini-skirts, and high – heel shoes. I implored my father for permission to “take company” (i.e., McDreamy home visits) on Sundays. Always the number one comeback response – “You’re too young.” Oh, to be a grown up, I lamented . . . if only time would move faster, I could claim all the happiness that my parents were surely denying me from receiving.
With their fierce style, awesome athleticism, and cool independence, Peabody high school boys showed out every day – not in negative ways, but in pride, intelligence, and good looks. Flips, somersaults, and headstands best describe the reactions of my heart to their easy smiles and cool conversations. Looking back, I know that these compelling young men invented Denzel Washington’s swagger; taught Michael Jordan how to fly, and wrote Babyface’s love songs.
I still remember attending my first dance as a freshman in the Peabody gymnasium, which seemed as gigantic as the ocean in my adolescent eyes. A McDreamy from the East side of the county, asked me to dance! He held me close as we slow dragged to Brenda Holloway’s, "Every Little Bit Hurts.” When I put my cheek on his shoulder, I felt more than the heat from the lack of air conditioning in the gymnasium. Although more awkward than romantic – the dance, the song, the boy — all came together to create an unforgettable moment.
Integration ended my high school experiences at Peabody. After so many years, the name Peabody still invokes memories of the best looking boys, the most cherished lessons, the most exciting basketball games, the most anticipated days, the most unfiltered laughter, and the most bittersweet memories.