My twentieth high school reunion is in June and thanks to the ubiquitous evil of Facebook, I’ve reconnected with many of the people I knew when I looked like the picture below.
When you see someone on Facebook you haven’t talked to in years, you don’t always totally reconnect. It’s more like this:
SCOTT GARNER wrote on your WALL: “Holy crap! I tried to look you up a few years ago, but when I Googled your name I just got a dude that was on trial for real estate fraud in Oklahoma. It wasn’t you. I saw a picture. How have you been?”
OLD HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND wrote on your WALL: “Wow. I thought you would be dead or incarcerated. Great to see you on here!!! What are you doing these days?”
SCOTT GARNER wrote on your WALL: “I take hot girls out to bars and give away free t-shirts and swag. And I steal cases of high-end beer from my job. What’s up with you?”
OLD HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND wrote on your WALL: “Haha. You always made such funny jokes. LOL. I work in finance. I’m going to retire at 45. My husband is the guitarist for Wilco. My youngest kid gained early acceptance into Harvard at 13.”
SCOTT GARNER wrote on your WALL: “Really? That’s great. And surprising, because in college there was this rumor going around that you were a hooker.”
Then the conversation gets stale and what do you really know about the person you haven’t seen in 20 years? You know they are much, much better than you, probably incredibly happy and hiding the truth about their days as a coed prostitute. It’s so cold and impersonal.
So to help all my Shiloh High friends out at reunion time, I present:
“Everything (relevant) I can think of, 1991-2010.”
Graduation 1991: Yelled “Good luck, bitches! See you from the cover of Time in ten years!! Peace!”
Summer 1991: Worked as a mover in Atlanta. Spent the entire summer sweating my balls off and hauling around other people’s shit. Learned that poor people have to work like dogs moving rich people’s shit around. Vowed to vote Democrat forever and ever, Amen.
1991-1995: Attended Georgia Southern University where I majored in English and psychotropic drug use. Since I had only gotten drunk twice in my high school years, there was some catching up to do. I worked for two different college newspapers, edited the university’s literary magazine, produced nine straight quarters of ridiculously awful college radio programs and managed to squeeze in a little theater before realizing that Georgia Southern’s theater chicks were pretty gross and untalented. Hoped the DJ gig would offset the other stuff and get me laid a little bit. It did not.
Summer 1995: Interned as a news writer for the Statesboro Herald. Met lots of nice people. It was an unpaid internship, which did more to prepare me for journalism than the work did.
Fall 1995: Moved to Warner Robins, Georgia, to work as a sports writer for The Daily Sun. If given a choice between living in Warner Robins or wiping your ass with sandpaper for a year, I hear 100-grit is the next best thing to Charmin.
A QUICK ASIDE: From the middle of 1995 to about 1997, I was at my personal peak in terms of physical attractiveness. This isn’t saying much. I was standing on the top rung of average and peeking over into the world of genuinely pretty people. Even so, Warner Robins was a waste of a good run of attractiveness. The cutest girl I interacted with on a regular basis worked in our office and I didn’t know she had a crush on me until the day before I moved back to Statesboro. I wasted a lot of my peak physical time living in a town best known for its Air Force base and little league teams. Once back in the college town I used my powers for evil. God took them away.
1996-1997: Moved back to Statesboro and went to work for the Herald again, this time with a paycheck. After proving to be an almost remarkably bad news writer, I was shuffled off to sports. I got to come in at noon, work with very little supervision and watch sports for a living. Other than oppressive poverty, a dream job.
I left the Herald to work for a small outfit producing chamber of commerce propaganda for various communities in Georgia and the Carolinas. If you moved to Shitheel, South Carolina, after reading something I wrote about “the charming eloquence of both the town and its people,” please forgive me. If it makes you feel any better, that job killed part of my soul.
Six years after high school and I haven’t even read a Time magazine. Signs point to “uh-oh.”
1998: I take a job with one of my former professors at a startup private middle school in Reno, Nevada. This entails moving 3,000 miles, having a shitty job working for a bipolar boss, getting fired after nine months (and saying “hallelujah” when it happened) and moving back. My father had driven me and all my stuff out to Reno and came back to help me move back, a three-and-a-half-day drive each way. About halfway through day two of the drive back to Georgia, he looks at me and says, “You know, most kids just move across town.”
November 1998-March 1999: Getting fired in Reno led to a four-month vacation funded by unemployment checks. I applied to jobs at major newspapers like the New York Times and corporations like MicroSoft to fulfill my obligation to the state for my weekly check. Did I mention I vote Democrat? When I got bored of lounging around (and discovered all my other friends were going to work anyway), I went back to the Statesboro Herald and they foolishly hired me again. By January of 2000, I was the sports editor thanks to a string of defections, illnesses and an assassination I may or may not have arranged.
2000-2005: Discovered the beauty of the famous Matthew McConaughey line from Dazed and Confused: “I keep getting older and these girls stay the same age.” I was living in a college town where despite middling looks and an even more middling paycheck, I was an older guy with a job. I dated a continuous string of college girls and recent college grads until meeting my future wife in 2005. I was 32 and about to cross the line from “cool older guy” to “lives in a van by the river.” Thought cashing in my chips was a good idea.
Along the way, I really enjoyed working for the Herald and covering sports at my alma mater. I was the sports editor when Georgia Southern won the I-AA championship in football in 2000. I covered the Masters in 2001, even though I pretty much hated golf unless I was playing it. I won a few awards thanks to a panel of French judges at the Georgia Press Association and an envelope stuffed with cash. There was a pretty shitty, reality-inducing moment in September of 2001 some of you might remember. It made me realize how unimportant my job was. Also, I had failed to appear on the cover of Time magazine. I took up guitar, which I barely learned to play. Badly.
In 2002, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday having learned four things since high school:
1. Never hook up with co-workers. Sure, the office rumors deserved to be investigated, just not by you. It shouldn’t take a crazy woman trying to throw a cinder block through your bedroom window to learn this lesson. But it did. Moving on.
2. There is such a thing as a “one owner car.” I owned a 1996 Dodge Neon with 17 miles on the odometer when I bought it. I changed the oil five times in 127,000 miles. On a trip to Delaware and back, the Rolling Egg began to make noises like a homeless guy with a shank in his side. I bought a new car in 2002 and drove the Neon to a junkyard to sell for parts. I parked it and took in the keys. It never started again. I’m still driving the Neon’s replacement. I’ve changed the oil at least eight or nine times.
3. Word gets out. No one lives in a college town for twenty years, dates an interminable string of (usually) innocent college girls and fails to develop a reputation. By 2004, I took a break from dating altogether because A) it was getting a little ridiculous, B) I wanted to meet a nice girl* and have a normal relationship with someone born in the 70s and C) I couldn’t afford to hire a PR firm and go to sex addiction rehab for eight weeks while everything died down.
(My wife, it turns out, was born in 1983 and attending college as an undergrad when I met her. It’s not so creepy now that she’s 27 and I’m 38, but her dad looked a little shell-shocked when we first met. This picture is us about a year into the relationship. She was still my girlfriend.)
*This isn’t to say I didn’t date some nice girls from 1999-2005. I did. By 2005, I had gotten pretty good at fucking up otherwise lovely relationships. I blame violent video games and cheap fast food.
4. Friends know everything about you but like you anyway.
2005: I quit The Statesboro Herald and go to work for the Savannah division of United Distributors. It turns out they needed someone to do menial work like hanging neons. The upside: the neon hanger also gets to take the Miller Girls out to bars and United picks up the tab. The downside: I have to drive a creepy white child-molester van around. I feel like the guy from Silence of the Lambs. The upside: apparently, what I do is known as “marketing.” Who knew?
2007: I marry the woman of my dreams. We were both on the rebound when we met (red flag) in a bar (waving red flag) and we were almost complete opposites (waving red flag being held by a man who is on fire). Strangely enough, it’s worked out pretty well. As I write this, she is in the living room giggling because the puppy has been eating cat shit and is now trying to lick her face. We’re sort of perfect for one another.
2008-present: Jessica and I move into a house. We work. She gets a Masters degree and starts making more money than me. I haven’t been this happy about a financial arrangement since I was collecting unemployment. I start writing this blog so I can exercise the old literary muscles in an attempt to write my first novel. I hope to have the first draft written by the reunion.
Then I’ll finally say hi to you bitches from the cover of Time magazine.