Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Million Little Pieces (Give or take 999,978 or so) . . .

And now for something completely different.

Instead of the usual semi-hysterical rant (more often than not about Governor Sarah Palin), I want to list a few of the highlights of my thirtieth high school reunion—highlights of course being a relative term. Really relative.

I should also note that unlike Mr. James Frey’s novelization of his memoirs, what follows is completely made up, not based on any actual events whatsoever, and is clearly the product of a deluded & deranged mind with much too much time on its hands. Additionally, the names have been changed, not so much to protect the innocent as to keep the innocent from giving me the ass kicking I so richly deserve.

Reunions always are stressful events, but for me I had more than the usual worries about being fatter, older and balder than my peers (for those of you too impatient to wade through this purple prose, and want to skip ahead, let me save you the trouble: YES--I was above average in the old, bald, and fat trifecta. Thanks for asking). But my additional worry involved what exactly would be the best way to explain that I’ve spent the last three years or so turning into the Crazy Cat Lady from ‘The Simpsons.' I briefly toyed with the idea of bragging how I still dressed better than she does and only have two cats. Still, I gave the matter my usual careful thought ie none at all, opting instead to just worry about it like a (cough cough) crazy person. In the end, I went with the usual straight (no chaser) shot, telling the truth how I’ve spent the last few years struggling with chronic depression, and left it at that. Which worked fine, given the high level of graciousness my classmates are justifiably known for.

Eventually, I felt comfortable enough to pull out my camera and had some pictures taken—now that I review them, it turns out no where near enough. But no worries. As they say where I come from: never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

In a flash of inspiration, I whispered to one woman that I was going to tell everyone in Oregon that we slept together in high school—which amused me so much, I said it to everyone. Heck…if a joke’s funny the first time, it’s gotta be good the next fifty.

If you are pictured below, and are unhappy about the bare-faced lies I have written about you, just write and I will remove all evidence: kicking of ass will not be necessary. Again, let me stress that everything that follows is a complete unmitigated and barefaced lie—not even Oprah would believe it.

Christina. We shared a homeroom for three years. I’m sure we were in other classes, but I can’t recall. She was one of the flashes on the tennis team, and for some reason I have no memory of her wearing anything other than a tennis dress—which says a lot more about my memory than her wardrobe. When I told her that I was going to tell everyone in Oregon we slept together in high school, she laughed and said “Nobody’s going to believe that!” I KNOW nobody’s going to believe that—but do you have to remind me?

Julia. When I told her my plan for this picture, she said that she would have—if only I asked her. Fortunately, that was merely a wild hallucination on my part, or I’d really be upset.

Christie. She said “Wow. You’re even creepier and more disgusting than you were thirty years ago.” Christie always knew her onions.

Karen. I first met Karen in fourth grade, back in the heyday of the Apollo Space program. I remember her as one of the academic stars of a class otherwise outstanding for mediocrity. For example, bringing home a piece of paper with a dozen or so math problems, and bringing it back to school the next day was even then beyond my level of competence (no need to ask if any of said problems were actually solved). There was no doubt in my mind that Karen was destined to be a leading lioness in the Space Program—just like those people in ‘I Dream of Jeanie.’ At the reunion, Karen explained that she was in fact not a rocket scientist (like those people in ‘Jeanie’), and then went off on some tangent about wondering how someone could still be bitter about elementary school homework assignments, almost forty years after the fact. Fortunately, I had stopped paying attention.

Michelle and Karen. For reasons that escape me, I always associate the two of them together. True, they were (and still are) tall, thin, bright, attractive, and very personable—but they are still very different people. I can’t be sure, but I think they thought me telling people in Oregon that I had slept with both of them was a good idea, because that would help me feel better about myself, both in high school and now. Jerks.

Shari. By now, my ears were really buzzing from the Hard Rock Café’s choice of loud musical acutremot, so I can’t be sure exactly what Shari said. I want to say it was something along the lines of ‘You wish.’ Well….DUH!

Pat the Cat (no one has ever called her ‘Pat the Cat’ in her life) and Teresa. Their shotgun repartee to my little joke (by now, damn little) were so pointed and risqué, I blushed redder than a tomato another season passed. My mother always warned me that if I tried to play with the big kids, I’d only wind up hurt.

Randy & Bert. Two of my older friends, and I don’t just mean ‘long standing.’ It was years before Randy realized that ‘WWJD?’ did not stand for ‘Who Would Jesus Do?’ And remember in ‘Some Like It Hot’ when Marilyn Monroe said she was from a musical family: her father was a ‘conductor’ for the Baltimore & Ohio? Well, Bert is some kind of an engineer—but I couldn’t swear that he isn’t similarly employed by the B&O Railroad.

Susan. We worked together on the debate team. When I told her my plan for our picture, she said something like ‘Well, we were partners remember….’ I got so flustered, I almost forgot to hold in my stomach.

Martina and her charming husband whose name unfortunately escapes me. Martina is a German national, and currently lives in Berlin. For reasons too complicated to go into (in other words: I don’t remember), Martina and I were on the verge of a huge fight about Werner Heisenberg, Konrad Adenauer, and why Germany does not have an atomic bomb. I do remember that at one point, her husband coughed softly, which I guess is German for ‘Honey, please humour the nuts,’ because they suddenly remembered they needed to go somewhere else right away.

Robin. Robin is someone else I have known for close to forty years now. She was happy to assist in my charade, but was even happier to hear that I had been married and divorced twice. That meant it was reasonably certain that I had actually slept with SOMEBODY at SOMETIME in my life. I wonder why I didn’t try talking to the nice people in my class...

Lynn. Lynn also jumped at the chance to create a fraudulent record of my high school years. And just like Robin—but wholly independent of her—Lynn also congratulated me on my two failed marriages, because that meant I had to have slept with someone, and probably more than once. Har de har har.

Katie. I am really mad that I didn’t get a picture of Katie. Another one of my fellow Long March Veterans from Halecrest Elementry (class of ’72), she was sweet enough to at least pretend to remember that I had taken her to see a movie--a real toothache of a picture called ‘The Fury,’ with Amy Irving and (I’m pretty sure) Kirk Douglas. But Katie always was a class act, as evidence by the fact she didn’t press too deeply about how I was able to remember so much about a quasi-date where nothing memorable happened.

Tracy. When my family moved to San Diego in 1968, Tracy lived across the street. The day we moved in—or the day after, at the latest--he knocked on the door, told my mom he noticed my family had a boy, and wanted to know if I wanted to come out and play. We became tight, best friends; until going to separate schools led to us drifting apart. But he always was good people—except for that time in 1969, when we got into a fight and he sort of beat me up (I tried to get him to fight me, he punched me in the arm and I fell down. Not really one of those Ali-Frazier epics, mind you). While Tracy was gentleman enough not to mention the big fight (if he even remembers it, which I doubt), he did feel compelled to mention that the two of us engaged in monopoly games that lasted for every day for weeks at a time. Randy’s otherwise charming wife Diane commented about how high school kids do weird things, and Mr. Big Mouth couldn’t spit it out fast enough that we were TEN at the time. Tracy now works in Juneau, and he doesn’t know it yet, but in a year or so I’m going to invite myself up to stay with him so I can run the Midnight Sun Marathon. That way, I can add one more state to my list of states I’ve marathoned—plus stick Tracey’s hand in warm water while he’s sleeping. That’ll teach him not to broadcast what nerd-os we were (it’ll mean another sock in the arm, but my falling down talent has lost none of its edge).

Melissa. Sister of above Tracey. I did not make a point of talking to Melissa, and now I regret it. Back in the day, we were the bitterest enemies (at least, that’s how I remember it). I’m not sure why, but she now is very charming—probably because one of us is no longer a complete jerk. Which is probably why I put off talking to her, just on the off chance it’s me who’s no longer the complete jerk.

Susan. Another lost photo opportunity I am furious about. For some reason, Susan—who I remember as a dead ringer for Donna, the saucy redhead on ‘That 70s Show’—apparently lived around the corner from me and was good friends with my parents. I KNOW I have not forgotten that little fact, and will go to my grave insisting I was never aware of it. Maybe I was living in a parallel dimension at the time--I don’t know. More proof of parallel dimensionism: Susan does not remember herself as a dead ringer for Donna, the saucy redhead from ‘That 70s Show.’

David. Not having a picture of David really is stupid, because I actually made him take some of these pictures. David and I were in Boy Scouts together. That was the troop that dubbed me ‘Abby,’ made famous by Abigail Van Buren (if you don’t know who that was, ask your grandmother). Get it? Get it? AB-EN-droth…AB-BY! HA HA HA! I was called ‘Abby’ for so long, that when I changed schools it took some time to get used to answering to ‘Bill.’

Rick. A class act even among class acts. At the reunion, he sought me out and introduced himself to me, and I pretended not to know who he was—just so I could give him a hug and whisper a rough dozen of the nastiest, most despicable, and truly grossest obscenities I know (and I know lots of them) in his ear. I picked Rick as one of my chief nemeses in high school, why I have no idea. For my part, I couldn’t marshal the nemesis of the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs (ask your grandfather). But Rick always went out of his way to be friendly to me--then and now. Bastard.


Editorial Note:

This little ditty was initially composed on a laptop PC, that is a computer in only the broadest sense of the term (to give you an idea, the laptop sports a sticker reading 'Built for Windows 95!'--and the manufacturer was bragging at the time). My sister (who up to now has been gracious enough to let me stay with her) has one of those Macs where the whole computer looks like a flat screen television. I almost destroyed her computer trying to stuff a floppy disk in the CD-ROM drive (how was I supposed to know computers don't use floppy disks any more?) She still doesn't know I did that--thank goodness she thinks everything I write is too boring and pointless to matter, or I might be in trouble. So, I had to take my little floppy disk and something called a 'jump drive' (it has Minnie Mouse's picture on the front), and use my niece's laptop to transfer the draft--given that she apparently has the last machine in the greater San Diego metropolitan area that has both a floppy disk drive and a working USB port.

I then took the jump drive to my sister's Mac, and also downloaded the pictures from my digital camera on the Mac hard drive, apparently somewhere near the black hole in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. For reasons known only to Steve Jobs and his god, copying the photos to this Facebook page involved at least thirty-five steps--per picture. When all the pictures were first copied, I then clicked on the plasma defribulator (or whatever it's called) to transfer the photos I had saved from the internet. Again, based on a master plan developed by Baal and Steve Jobs (I'm pretty sure it was Baal), instead of opening a new window to the world, everything my niece and I had carefully done went the way of all angels.

I made a few reserved and collected remarks about the state of contemporary technology, and my niece wondered if I always swore like a pirate. Essentially, we (my niece and I) had to start over a rough half dozen times--and when we were finally finished, I asked why the photos that had been rotated (and saved--thanks for asking), were now unrotated. My niece (god bless her) asked what program did I want to use to edit the JPEGs, and I said that I did not have an opinion as to what program we should use (I also strongly implied that Mr. Jobs had in fact been conceived prior to his parents uniting in holy wedlock, his maternal parent had strong canine tendencies, and then I went on to draw multiple analogies involving various expressions of sexual intercourse (not always in the best of taste), involving multiple partners and a wide variety of animal species). It was then we discovered that the program to remove the satanic glare from Lynn's eyes was somehow unable to save the photo that way. My own eyes took on a strange light, and (among other things) I proceeded to repeatedly break both the second and third commandments--as well as heavily disrespect the first, fourth, sixth, eighth, and tenth. My niece asked me if I was done (in that snarky way)--so I pounded at the ninth, just for good measure. So Lynne: I'd say I was sorry your eyes are still goofed up--but that would be a lie.

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