Thursday, May 29, 2008

Echo... and the bunnymen

I'm still not going to the reunion. I got the rsvp in the mail last week and one of my old friend's from high school sent some pictures. The pictures is from my friend in California: Krista.

Krista used to talk me into doing things I really wanted to do, but on some level didn't think was "cool." Cool is relative. At the end of high school, I was a recovering band geek, a proud member of both the chess club and the soccer team, and a dungeons and dragons addict. I wasn't just a player. I was a dungeon master.

Krista wanted to act. She wanted to be on a stage. She liked the attention. She liked to be part of different worlds and to entertain. I wasn't that different. I just wasn't as comfortable with wanting it.

So, first she sort of talked me into signing up for drama class. It seemed like a better fit for me than another year of repeating French, but I expected to loaf. Next, she talked me into participating. I was in three plays that year, including, of all things, a musical --no, Uncle Bill did not sing. Uncle Bill only sings to his children, and they tell him to shut up.

Anyway, the pictures she sent me yesterday were from something else she talked me into. It was from a drama club float I was part of for homecoming. I wasn't actually a member of the drama club. You had to pay to join the drama club and I wouldn't do that.

So, Krista talked me into getting on the back of a moving pick-up truck, wear black clothes and put on whiteface makeup. She talked me into miming. In certain portions of the U.S. participating in a miming is considered grounds for a stoning and not the good kind. Inciting someone to mime should also be a crime, but I went along with it. The two of us stood in the back of the moving truck and did a mirror thing. I simply repeated her movements. It impressed somebody, we got second prize.

But the pictures were cool. I had a lot more hair in those days. Well, at least I had more hair on my head. I was thinner, had bigger biceps, but the shoulders are the same. The chest is pretty much the same, though probably not as firm. I was really into weights back then, could run a mile if need be and was as strong as an ox.

The photos were me without a lot of mileage. Things were about to rapidly change. I was five months from my first cigarette and four months from the first time I was ever really mindlessly drunk. It was three months before I got my young heart broke for the last time by a high school sweetheart. It was only two months before I got my first CD player and my first CD, Pink Floyd's "Momentary Lapse of Reason" and only a couple of weeks before I dated my last blond.

A lot of miles have passed since. I was maybe in the best shape in my life back then, something I've often dreamed about getting back, but seems as unrealistic as me doing practically anything else I've ever done. I was also in the worst shape of my life. I was fragile emotionally, moody (damn you, Jay. Damn you to hell), but not in the sort of useless middle-aged weary way, but the confused, frightened childish way. I was scared of growing up, of being alone, of women, of responsibility, of myself.

Anyway, looking at the kid in the picture, looking at him in a different way, as a father might look at his own son, I was sort of proud of him. He got in the back of a pickup truck and took a chance on making a fool out of himself. He was afraid of being made fun of, of being laughed at, but he decided he could take that. For a second or two, everyone he passed would look at him. It was just another baby step forward, to growing up, to not being so afraid to take chances. It worked out.

These days I jump into swimming pools in freezing cold temperatures. I hang out with cancer patients. I give crack heads rides downtown, but never give them money. I'll defend my autistic daughter from strangers and bureaucrats, but don't have a problem telling her to shut it when she starts channeling one of her cartoon characters. I speak my mind. The list of things I'm afraid of is pretty short.

Krista, my Krazy friend in Kalifornia, has always been great to give me a nudge when I needed it. Over the years, her occasional appearances in my life have been an impartial force, pushing me in the right direction, sometimes helping me course correct when I've lost my bearings. She wouldn't know that. She just wants me to do something, but she often seems to show up when I need things to get a little weird.


Buzzardbilly said...

My friend and I have decided we're going to suck it up and hit our reunion next month. She was the Viv to my Lucy our senior year. And our freshman year of college.

If Krista's going, I think you should go. Sure you still won't like the people you didn't like in high school. But, it's an interesting two hours and I believe they'll be way impressed that you are a real writer. Getting paid for it and everything.

Jackie said...


That being said, I think you're The Man. You're a helluva writer and from what you blog about for the people you've got balls...big ones. So stop being so hard on yourself :D

BTW- I was more of a "Gangbusters" guy myself...