Old Lang Syne
Talking with an old high school classmate on Facebook has got me thinking about...girls. Specifically, high school girls. Not high school girls now. I'm 40. That'd be creepy. I mean, the ones I went to high school with. I don't want to embarrass anyone by calling them out by name. Oh, what the hell? Who reads this fucking blog anyway? Melissa Cote. Tracy Bartlett. The Hodgson sisters. Heather Richotte. Jodi White. Jen... Listen, basically, if you were an attractive female who attended Berlin High School between 1984 and 1988, there was a good chance I was in love with you. There's a good chance I wrote shitty 52-page poems about you with obscure pretentious references that made no sense, and that you, (through no fault of your own, other than your being really really pretty) made my heart hurt.
I am going to do something one should never do: quote Dan Fogelberg.
There's a line in "Old Lang Syne"--y'know, that Delilah after Dark classic, which starts, "I met an old lover in a grocery store..."
I'll admit it; the fucking song tears me up.
On the off chance you haven't even found yourself listening to lite rock after midnight on a lonely V-tines Day eve horking back a burger through the tears, it goes something like this. The narrator is hanging out in the grocery story on Christmas Eve, looking for frozen peas or some shit, when he comes across an ex-girlfriend (here called "lover" because it's Dan Fogelberg, further adding to the shame). So they start talking, decide to go somewhere to catch up. All the bars are closed. It's Christmas Eve. So they grab a six pack, sit in her car. Her life is shit. She's married to some limp dick architect. He has it better, because he's Dan Fucking Fogelberg, but clearly she was something special, and her absence has left a void. Then the conversation hits a wall. They're older, different people, not young anymore.
Here's the part that kills me:
I can still feel those nights, man. The quiet minutes where you were fortunate enough to be left alone with her. The school dances. The...drop ins. The movies. The fair. The games or buses or parties. Doesn't matter. You can feel every atom on your skin tingling in anticipation...for...the something big that may happen. Really, is there anything like the desperation and urgency of a high school crush? It's all you think about, pining all hope on its coming true. Like Bogart getting his guts kicked out when it doesn't go the way you wanted. And does it ever? Because nothing does. Not the girl. Not the life you dreamed you'd have. None of it.
Not that it's awful. Far from it. It can be terrific. But it isn't through the unfettered, optimistic eyes of your sixteen-year-old self. It is, at best, compromised. And you miss that pain when it's gone.
The fucked up part, I mean unless you were a senior on the football team, or one of those self-assured types (and I wasn't friends with any of those), if you were a boy, you didn't have a chance. You might get a girlfriend from the lower grades (a two grade drop off seems about right), some pimply flat-chest, but the hot girls in your class? Forgetaboutit. Me? I was a fucktard, a creep and a weirdo. I could barely walk straight with my stupid bowl haircut, drawing my goofy pictures and talking to myself. Melissa Cote wasn't going out with me! (although she was my first slow dance).
Oh, to be cool in high school...
It's one of the injustices of this life, getting older and finally getting your shit together. You hit 40 and you've got some shit figured out (and if you're lucky, you've even kept your hair). It's good to have shit figured out. You have decent credit, own a house, have a kid, a wife, some money, investments, a grasp on your mental, financial, and spiritual well-being. You don't fall apart when a girl doesn't respond to your note by fourth period. You are strong, sturdy, a right on holy roller... But, man, what I wouldn't give to be a lite rock song for a night, a night where you drive with no destination in mind, summer, winter, fall, doesn't matter, it's the boys packed in the car, it's blood on blood, and you're hearing "Wish You Were Here" for the first time, everything new, bursting with possibility, because what's-her-name might be there tonight, and you don't have to be home for another four hours, and you'll feel that nervous excitement just to be near her, for the chance to talk to her, and who knows? Maybe, just maybe, this life will turn out just the way you are dreaming it...
I guess that's why we have high school reunions and fucking Dan Fogelberg.