Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Bambi Hampton; thank you Bambi for letting me pinch this from your Facebook page.
Bambi Hampton; thank you Bambi for letting me pinch this from your Facebook page.

Last night as I rolled down the driveway, I flipped through a couple of contacts on my phone in preparation for putting it away before I got on the actual road. As I scrolled, I saw that I had a contact listed for Bambi Hampton, with whom I attended high school. I clicked on it and saw that all I had was a phone number. At that moment, a bump in our 100-yard-long driveway moved my finger to dial it. “Okay,” I thought, “I’ll roll with this.”

Sure enough, Bambi answered, and my phone automatically put her through the speakers in the car. We talked for a while as I drove south to cover a baseball game. It was good… no, it was great to talk to her. And despite the fact that we don’t know each other that well, she seemed to feel really comfortable talking to me. I gathered that’s who she is… someone who is pretty comfortable with herself.

She spoke of several people we both knew in high school. But before long I arrived at the game I was covering, but I promised to look her up the next time I was in Lawton, where she lives and where we went to high school, and she could meet my wife Abby.

Then today, I thought it would be chilly to look up some of the people we discussed, in an extra copy of my 1980 yearbook I keep at my office, the Talon ’80. As soon as I started looking, I saw one nightmare after another. Loser… bitch… jackass… douchebag… bully… snob… loser… bitch… drug addict… loser… bully… Holy crap. Was high school really this awful?

Yes, of course it was. To adjudicate this conclusion, I put some of the names of these awful people into the Facebook search box. Sure enough… loser… bully… loser… jackass… snob… bitch… douchebag… bitch… bully… bitch.

It was also disheartening to see how many people my age had simply given up years ago and settled into crushing mediocrity, who had gone from high school fox/superstar/homecoming queen/future president to 50-year-old burnout.

Also for the record, despite being lauded as one of the “best yearbooks in the country,” the writing and photography in the Talon ’80 is terrible. I realize it is a student publication, but as such it should not pretend to be literature.

My takeaway from this is simple: I am 50, but that number means little to me. I’m going to keep being young and alive until the Mother Ship calls me home, and not a minute sooner.

This is an image of me hiking in New Mexico last month. If this is what it takes to keep me young, here I go.
This is an image of me hiking in New Mexico last month. If this is what it takes to keep me young, here I go.


  1. I recently had the opposite experience with my yearbook; looking through expecting to recoil from some of the people I saw there… As it turned out, I had pleasant impressions of most of the ones I remembered.

    Surprisingly few of them are active on the internet today, at least not in a public capacity. I had expected my generation to fully embrace this collection of wires and silicon chips.

  2. Wil, maybe high school was a better experience for you than it was for me. Maybe I’m still bitter about being bullied, in particular by competitors for my romantic interests.

  3. Richard, it was weird. I certainly remembered it as not a good time. There were bullies. I was depressed. Etc. I expected that to pop out of the yearbook, but it didn’t. It was an odd feeling.

    I suspect that part of my experience was based on my aging memory tending to shine a nicer light on olden times.

  4. Every time I run across an old high school mate who was a bitch, douchebag, loser, etc., and I find out they have a job, I’m all like, “but they didn’t earn that success! they got horrible grades! They spelled ‘as a matter of fact’ as ‘ammatarafac’!”

  5. Wiener! I spoke to the lady and it was last year. Still Richard is forever 37 old enough to be wise and young enough to trespass for a good pic! He is my Hero too!

  6. The calling bambi part, the hating high school AND the you kick ass part. :) this was a surprise. lol. The town we grew up in had a lot to do with…bullies, snobs, etc. Some that left grew, those that stayed regressed I believe. Some of them anyway. :)

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