It is probably never a good idea to write anything too personal publicly. But I’ve never been very good at going along with good ideas. So I thought I would spend a moment to talk about the boring people I went to high school with. I don’t mean all of them, of course. I don’t know all of them. And some that I do know are quite interesting. But you see: I get mail.
I have a horrible memory, so I only have the vaguest of recollections of the people from high school. But they will write to me from time to time. This is pretty much always because of one aspect of my colorful life. They want to know if I am as evil as I appear to be. Do I snarl? Eat puppies for breakfast? Of course, they don’t put it that way. But the subtext is clear enough.
I no longer respond to such email, because I know how these things go. Regardless of how I respond, there will never be a reply. I think of it as the internet equivalent of doorbell ditch. But it really is them getting a thrill out of the process of comparing what they remember as a shy, skinny kid and his later life as despoiler of the world’s children and general pox on society. It makes me feel like a geek at a freak show.
And then I have to go and screw it all up by showing that I’m much more like a mathematics professor at a small liberal arts college. The disappointment must be extreme. But still, there are the books! They’ll always have the books! But I get the sense that they think somehow the lives they’ve led have been better than mine. And they might be right. I’m in no position to judge. But most of them have led what I think of as very boring lives.
This is not a surprise. I went to a high school that was known locally as “the ranch.” In fact, if my memory is correct, on the side of the gymnasium, that was painted in big block letters. And even though it was a suburban school, it had a certain feel of being a country school. The people who came out of it are now mostly a conservative lot — many of the Donald Trump supporting variety. You know the type: don’t much like African Americans, even though they’ve only seen them on television.
That’s all fine. Most people do just want a normal life — that’s why they call it that: a normal life. I like barbecues as much as the next person. But why reach out to me? I think that shows a certain amount of boredom with their own lives. I’d never write to someone I barely remember asking them about the twenty years they spent as a supply clerk in the army. Then again, I’ve lived, in retrospect (having survived it), a charmed life — and certainly not a boring one. I’ve traveled extensively, known amazing people, done some great things, got in ridiculous amounts of trouble, and lived to tell the tale. Not that I do — at least not to those people from the deep past who want to drive by my digital home and slow down, hoping to see me sacrificing a goat.