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.