|July 18, 2000
I'm still receiving the occasional amused/intrigued/slightly baffled/"What the hell??" e-mail from former high school classmates, who have stumbled across me on Classmates.com and have followed the link I've posted there, leading -- like a little trail of *cyber breadcrumbs* -- to this website.
I suppose I can understand how bizarre this whole "Internet journaling" stuff must seem to the uninitiated. I can further understand how jolting it must be to encounter a journal written by somebody you used to know. The truth is: that's half the fun for *me.* And half the cathartic value.
Another such e-mail landed in my mailbox over the weekend:
I recognized him right away, of course.
He didn't sign his name -- just his initials, and a list of schools he/we attended, and the year he graduated ... and his e-mail address was sufficiently anonymous as to be useless ... but it wasn't hugely difficult to figure out who was writing to me.
Nice guy. Glasses. Smart. Cute. Sorta quiet. Vaguely dweeby, before "dweeb" had even made it into the lexicon.
I remember I was a little intimidated (and more than a little annoyed) by his consistent Grand Honor Roll status ... particularly since, until eighth grade or so, *I* had always been the smartest kid in the class. (Once I hit junior high school, I stopped giving a crap about things like grades or homework or planning for the future. Mostly I was just trying to get Kenny Robbins to notice me.)
I'm pleased to hear that I was "kind" to him, though. I always naturally gravitated to the smart guys for friends. I still do.
We had a ninth grade journalism class together, cranking out the crappy school newspaper every month. This was circa 1973. (Can't you just smell the mimeograph paper?) I wrote florid articles all about Torch Club Meetings, and conducted dopey class polls ("What's your Favorite Song?"), and drew little cartoon illustrations for the newspaper.
I don't remember what KL wrote about.
If he was the Class Nerd, I was the Class Slut. A 100% virginal Class Slut, mind you: I held hands with my nice boyfriend on the church bus once in a while, but that was pretty much *it.* Over the summer months between eighth and ninth grades, however, I had quite dramatically sprouted breasts the size of ripe casaba melons ... and in junior high school, an ample bosom automatically equals promiscuity. Even KL admits to "leering."
It was not a happy time for me.
One Saturday afternoon, he and I and a couple of the cool kids from the journalism class went on a field trip/roller skating "party" with our teacher. It was part of chemically-imbalanced Miss Langlitz' ongoing plan to integrate the popular kids (represented on this particular outing by perky Pep Club Officer Girl and groovy Foreign Exchange Student Guy) and the not-so-popular kids (KL and me). I remember it as one of the more torturous afternoons of my junior high school *career.*
KL and I went to the same junior high together for three years, then to different high schools, and then -- apparently -- had a class together at junior college. I honestly don't remember the college class. (Like he said: I wasn't there much, but when I was there, I wasn't really much *there.* Mostly I was just trying to get Jerry Wagner to notice me.)
Whenever KL has crossed my mind, over the twenty-odd years since we shared a classroom, it has been with a sort of lingering sadness over the way we are pigeonholed at such a vulnerable point in our lives -- "Nerd" or "Jock" ... "Slut" or "Cheerleader" ... "Most Likely to Succeed" or "Most Likely to Grow Up and Write About Incontinence on Her Website" -- and how some of us manage to rise above it and become the people we were meant to be, and others of us cart that old pain around with us for the rest of our lives, like an unfashionable jacket we outgrew thirty years ago ...
... but for most of us it is an uneasy mixture of the two.
I also think of him with the fond and fervent hope that he grew up to be smart and rich and happy, preferably by inventing someoranother fabulous software program and founding an enormously successful company and building a house the size of the f**king Taj Mahal, right there on the banks of scenic Tub Lake.
And that he kicked some serious Cool Kid Ass, in the process.