Electric Grandmother

Maggie Croft's Personal Journal young spirit, wire-wrapped
spark electric grandmother
arc against the night

-- Lon Prater
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So I was screwing around on MySpace, looking for old friends. You know how it is. There were a couple cool people in high school that you've lost touch with, and sometimes you wonder about them.

This occasionally happens to me, especially when writing NaNo novels that take place in high school.

So I was tooling around, and I found a couple of people I used to know.

It's really interesting what people want the world to know about them. For example, there was one kid I have to admit I thought was a bit of a schmuck. (Remember here that I'm middle-class and tend to understate and soften things.) He wants the world to know that he theoretically makes three figures, drives around in really cool cars, and has half-naked women draped all oven him in public places. I must admit, I'm mighty impressed. (Though middle-class, I can occasionally be sarcastic.)

Then there's this other guy. We tooled around a bit together, and then he decided, I kid you not, that he was the Fonz. He was cast as Danny in our high school production of Grease. (This alone is a long story. Oh! The drama!) He had what is commonly referred to as dishwater blonde hair, but he dyed it black for the play, and kept it that way for ages after. He started calling himself "Fonzie" or "The Fonz" and saying, "Heyyyy!" He also acquired a black leather jacket and took to wearing white t-shirts. In my high school annual he wrote something to the effect of how he was hoping I'd let him "break" me in the future. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, he didn't mean my nose.

I ran into him about five years ago. My husband and I were back in my home town visiting with my best friend from highschool (the one who had the theory about the genesis of AIDS). The Fonz was also in town, and is a second cousin or some such of my friend, and he swung by, too.

He tried to convince us he was incredibly cool1, living in Florida, doing lots o' chicks, and raking in the dough. He sat on a beach all day, drinking, buying internet sites and reselling them for a profit. Evidently this is still true.

I cannot argue with these men that if this is what they want then that's cool. But obviously when telling the stories they tell, they're trying to impress someone. And it's really interesting to me that this is what they choose to share.

And I have a confession. I will remember these things and will probably use it in my writing. As Stephen King says, why notice your neighbor picks his nose unless you're going to use it (i.e. in your writing)?

Anyway, I'm an anthropologist, and am trained to pick up on such things.

And still I haven't seen some of the incredibly cool people I ended up meeting in high school. They seem to have disappeared. I hope they're living quiet, lovely, happy lives full of love and contentment. I hope some of their dreams have come true, whether they were dreams of childhood, the teenage years, or adulthood. Because, you know, some dreams stay the same and some evolve, but in the end, it's still nice when any of them come true.

1 He also took to cutting down some of the truly cool guys I knew in high school. For example, one in particular ... We met when I was a junior. In terms of the Mini-Cassia area he was incredibly odd, novel, but if one went into the rest of the world, there might be hundreds like him. But we had a lot in common and he was into showing me new things. He'd come over and we'd listen to my records and he'd read The Hobbit to me. I'd go to his place and he'd screw in a colored lightbulb and we'd listen to Iron Butterfly. He introduced me to The Doors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Now, let me tell you, this was exciting stuff! He was really smart, had wonderful ideas and thoughts, and could not for the life of anyone get through high school. He had memorized Shakespeare because he liked Shakespeare, and could quote him at length off the top of his head, but couldn't get through an English class. We occasionally went to the same school functions (like for French club) and we'd sit together on the bus. Late into the night we'd listen to cool music, sharing a set of earphones, each of us with one bud, talking about Shakespeare and movies. But not just, "This was a cool movie," but the philosophy behind the movies, the technical aspects, the scripts.

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