January 8, 2009

Boy Most Likely To...

The other day whilst moving things around my music room, shoveling out the piles of crap that have accumulated over the last year - because that room has become the dumping ground for everything I don't know what to do with and apparently I don't know what to do with a lot - I unearthed my middle school yearbooks. Mia was with me so I showed her my seventh and eighth grade pictures. I was mysteriously absent for my sixth grade picture. I forget why.


After checking out the pictures, I hunted down a few old friends then turned to the front and back flaps of each book where I'd gathered signatures and messages from classmates. Does this tradition still exist? I wouldn't be surprised if it was rendered moot by MySpace and Facebook. That would be sad but not exactly unexpected. Anyway, while reading these messages, I remembered some of the kids I'd totally forgotten about, saw a few names that I still - even with the benefit of putting names to faces - can't remember, and I started wondering who exactly was I back then? Here are some of the messages.

Thanks for being a great friend. Have a great summer.
The vast majority of the comments I received were exactly like this. I mean, almost to the word. Middle school kids aren't terribly original.

To Chris, the knee-slapper. Have a great summer.
You are definitely the funniest person I ever met. Stay cool and see you next year.
I guess I was a real laugh-riot. Actually, someone used that term in another comment. And what sixth grade kid uses the term laugh riot? I don't remember being hilarious. Awkward? Check. Self conscious? Definitely. Funny? No.

Remember Grant. Remember Lee. The hell with them. Remember me.
It worked. I never have forgotten that line. Or the guy who wrote it. Little Bill, from a post earlier in the week. Bill was born two days before me. We lived practically next door to each other and were virtually inseparable during the fifteen years I spent in Houston with the exception of the time we spent in elementary school. Because despite the fact that we lived practically next door we were oddly zoned to different elementary schools. What's up with that?

The earth is made from many things like trees and rocks and stones. And hotel registration books filled up with Smith and Jones.
WTF?

Hey babycakes! What's goin' on! I'm really glad we met. It's been a great year even though you wrapped my locker. Keep in touch over the summer. Lots of love.
This message came from Ashley, who I dated throughout the sixth grade. We were the couple that year. Ashley's family had more money than god (or at least spent it differently). I went to her house precisely once. I recall a gate and fancy cars parked in a courtyard. My family had some money but that's definitely not how we rolled. It made me feel vaguely hick-like. On our first date, we were accompanied by my parents. They sat in the back of the movie theater while Ashley and I sat as far towards the front as we could without causing permanent neck injuries seeing the screen. After school ended that year, I don't recall speaking to Ashley again. Ahhh, true love.

Keep breakin' and stop fakin'.
Uh, yeah. Duly noted. I'm sure I looked good doing so in my parachute pants.

Skate tuff or die!
Hang loose, skate tuff and surf naked.
Us middle-school kids in the burbs were hardcore. And apparently closet nudists.

To a great marble player and an okay friend.
For some really strange reason, when I was in sixth or seventh grade, the thing to do was play marbles. It was totally old school. I was lucky that I had a championship marble player for a father. Taught me everything I knew. I kicked some marble ass.

This is to a guy who almost every girl loves or loves forever.
I wish I'd lived in this guy's version of middle school because I don't recall being a Casanova. Actually, the author of this comment is a source of deep regret for me. His name was Nathan. Nathan and I were tight in middle school. Several years later, after I'd moved to Virginia, I encountered him again in my new high school. Or at least I thought I did. He'd grown a foot and gone goth with a side order of punk. Makeup, black clothes, trenchcoat, black boots, and a bright read mohawk. It took me almost an entire school year to convince myself that this was, indeed, the Nathan I knew. And once I had, I felt bad and embarrassed that I hadn't talked to him right off the bat. His freakish reputation didn't help nor did the fact that he'd seemed to have morphed into the Boy Most Likely To Shoot Up The Cafeteria. Still, I regret not talking to him. I feel like an asshole to this day.

Hey, what should I say? Oh well, your room is cool. It was a cool and interesting six times. Maybe someday it will be seven times but for right now let's stay great friends. I'll see you a lot this summer.
That six times statement? Not what you think. I didn't get laid until high school. Six was actually the number of times Molly and I went out, the then-current version of going steady. I don't know what kids call it these days. Probably banging. Molly was awesome. In fact there's a handful of people from those middle school days that I think of often and Molly is one of them. We went on a school journalism trip together to Austin. Our seriously crazy journalism teacher and chaperons turned us loose in a mall for dinner. I bought her a Swatch. We went to football games together. She introduced me to Led Zeppelin. We never signed up for a seventh time.

My name, as you well know, is Brian H. Hatfield [not his real name]. Please do not ask what the H stands for. I just want to ask you why you are letting me write this. I mean, this is one entire page that I'm wasting here. So stop me, okay?
See, Brian was the funny one, the knee-slapper. Not me.

If we have the same homeroom teachers in high school we'll give them hell like we did in middle school!
This dude and I had the same first and last names. Now, sure, our last names were spelled differently but that didn't make it any easier on our teachers because they were still pretty unique. We also looked almost exactly alike - same height, same blond hair. I looked him up just a second ago on the off-chance that he was an IT geek in the Washington area married to a woman named Beth with two kids Mia and Owen thus completing the doppleganger like existence we once shared. He's a lawyer in Houston.

To my best friend who gets all the good girls. Stay cool and awesome. (sixth grade)

To a cool friend that regretfully isn't in any of my #?!;$ classes. Oh well, see you this summer. (seventh grade)

Well, weren't we stupid. It's a shame that the first class together in years had to be so unpleasant. Oh well. Shirley has given me a new outlook on life. I'm joining a convent. Seriously, though, I hope we continue to be the best of pals, party a lot, and get a lot of classes together next year in high school (fat chance). So long for now but I get this weird feeling we'll see each other a lot for a long time. (eighth grade)

These three were from Brian, my best friend. Any given weekend, we'd be crashing at my house or his. His dad was uber-strict (I'm not sure I ever saw him smile) but he had a cool older brother named Danny who used to take us places in his car and blast Van Halen. We played cutting edge Apple IIe computer games together, started the original incarnation of the band Rude Cactus, and lusted after most of the same girls. After I left Houston, I lost touch with Brian. I've done a little searching. I know where he works, I can get his email address and I'm thinking about dropping him a line.

All this yearbook reading led me to consider what messages I'd write about myself if I wrote a comment in my own yearbook, remembering what I was like in middle school. It would be something like this:

Thank you for being a good friend and a nice guy. You're probably too nice - and someone will take advantage of that someday - except for the time you hit Gary in gym class, your lone act of physical violence against another. You're kinda funny but mostly in an awkward middle school way. It was totally uncool that time Mr. Davis gave you trash duty for having your shirt untucked. He was a shitty math teacher too. You dated some really cool girls like Molly, Brandi, and Ashley. It would seem that you had a thing for girls whose names ended in the e sound. The strangest, though, was Windy, the chick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome who was never in school. How was that supposed to work out? And seriously, Windy? A few things to remember moving forward in life. If you ever consider growing a mullet, please don't. The only thing it will be good for is amusing the internet (which you know nothing about now but one day it will blow your mind and you'll wonder what you did without it). And speaking of the internet, remember as much as you can because these stories are going to come in handy. And while your love of Genesis may be marginally cool now, in ten years it'll be really dorky. So don't, you know, get a tattoo of Phil Collins or anything. You're going to move and you'll probably lose touch with people. But try your best to keep in touch. These are the people you grew up with. In the mean time, hang loose, skate or die, and surf naked. Though don't, really. Because - and don't freak out - one day you're going to have two kids and you'll need all your limbs to be fully functional. Plus an accident surfing naked might really hurt your chances at those two kids. And you wouldn't want to miss that. Trust me.

What were your yearbook comments like? Who do you most regret losing touch with? And if you wrote your own yearbook comment, what would it say?

Posted by Chris at January 8, 2009 6:38 AM
Comments

Oh God, is it dorky to love Genesis?

Crap!

Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is a GREAT album, I don't care what anyone says.

And if you and your neighbor went to different schools, you probably grew up in SW Houston? I remember all the crazy zoning in SW Houston -- in Spring Branch, too.

Posted by: Elise at January 8, 2009 8:17 AM

What sixth grade uses the term knee-slapper?

"Hotel registration books"?! Hysterical. What the heck was going on in that kid's house?

These stories are comedy gold.

Posted by: Maria at January 8, 2009 8:39 AM

wow, I'd be scared to post my old photos so kudos to you! I think a lot of us have the same old same old phrases but some are better than others aren't they? Think I need to go on a yearbook search in the near future... some good nuggets of reading there!

Posted by: Holly at January 8, 2009 8:43 AM

I dug my 8th grade yearbook out this past summer to read a quote from one of my best friends in my speech at her wedding ("Dear Leah, remember when we hated each other? That was so uncool."). I was shocked to see that a boy in my science class had signed with "I love your soft, smooth legs." How was I not super creeped out by that? This was 8th grade! I don't remember him ever feeling my legs to see if they were soft and smooth (and I think I would remember something so creepy) so I have no idea why he wrote that.

Posted by: Leah at January 8, 2009 8:55 AM

I only actually got two year books ever - once while I still lived in America (so it had to be 7th grade) and one when I lived in the Netherlands and went to an international school. I remember not really being interested in them: everybody always wrote the same things (as you already noted) and everything was about the popular kids. I didn't like having my picture taken even then...

The last year in International School I refused to have anything to do with the year book. When it came out, though, everybody was of course sitting around, finding their own pictures, etc. Someone told me that I had been chosen as the girl most likely to succeed.

I guess ignoring the year book had its points, I still find it pretty funny.

The international community in Holland isn't that large and it seems that a lot of old class mates have sort of migrated back from wherever they (attempted) to go to college. I tell them what I'm up to and they just kind of stare and say, "Wow, you're really going places!" To which I laugh... I guess something that I knew but never realized in school was that I made my own path and succeeding was going to be by my definition of the term and no one else's. These days - I don't know if I've succeeded, but I'm ok with where I am.

Funny, how I just wrote that because of how you mentioned year books. :) Hope I haven't bored you terribly.

Posted by: Hannah at January 8, 2009 9:12 AM

So you were an awesome marble player and only an okay friend? That would make a great song lyric or opening line for a book!

I have no idea what box my yearbooks are in, but I am getting the urge to dig them out so I can be mortified by my adolescent self.

Posted by: Shelly at January 8, 2009 9:12 AM

Jacks was the old school game that was the rage for us in 6th grade.

I really could have used that mullet advice. Really.

Think about how different it will be for todays middle schoolers. They won't have a yearbook and maybe a few pictures they found in the attic. They'll probably have hundreds if not thousands of digital photos spread all over the web documenting their youth.

The phrase plausible reliability will become meaningless.

Posted by: COD at January 8, 2009 9:14 AM

That should be plausible deniability. Damn spellcheck...

Posted by: COD at January 8, 2009 9:15 AM

Oh lord, I love your comments about kids "these days." You really are a funny dude, you know. A real laugh riot, you might say. But just an "okay" friend. (Just kidding; that makes me laugh for some reason.)

Most of the notes people left in my yearbooks were of the "KIT over the summer!" variety. And I think that's probably what I wrote in return.

Posted by: Fraulein N at January 8, 2009 9:17 AM

In middle school they were a lot like: "Hey wuz up? Not 2 much here." Then something like a math equation that said 2 good 2 B 4gotten. In high school I remember two in particular: One from a guy in my neighbourhood I fooled around with that said "Tu amante secreto, Paul."(which turns out to be wrong.) And the other from a guy who picked on me non-stop in Photo I: "You're a whole lotta LOVE; save room in your bed for me some day." I laugh at these because I was so on the fringe of anything cool in high school and I didn't date anyone so these are pretty funny to me.

Posted by: Claire at January 8, 2009 9:18 AM

I lost touch with a girl named, Wendy. I used to call her "Cute's" because she blushed easily. I always meant to track her down. Then I got a phone call from a mutual friend telling me she had committed suicide. She was bi-polar. I still feel badly.
The other is a woman named Diane, whom I have known since grade school and I always enjoyed her. I have tried like crazy to find her, but with no results.

Posted by: Maribeth at January 8, 2009 9:45 AM

I really like Genesis too. Esp. when Peter Gabriel was the lead singer.

Posted by: Anica at January 8, 2009 9:56 AM

If I wrote my own yearbook note, I would write the following:

It doesn't matter that they think you are too smart or too snobby. You know the truth - you're just a little shy and your home life isn't so great. Some day you'll graduate from college with honors and you'll start to ponder getting your PhD. You'll be married to a loving, caring, smart, sexy, and amazing man who loves you as much as you love him. You'll have two amazing children and you'll love your life.

Ignore when Josh Sandin refuses to let you sit next to him on the bus (the only seat left); ignore when he refuses to give you a stick of gum after he's already handed it out to half the band. In fact, stop crying about how he calls you four-eyes and mocks you. He's not worth your time and later you'll have much, much better.

In short, remain yourself. It'll be hard, particularly when your parents divorce and your mom dates a string of really bad guys, culminating in a step-dad who molests your sister. But, if you remember your strengths you'll make it out of it all and you'll be a better person.

I promise.

(What, is that too dark and sad?)

Posted by: Jen R. (aaron-n-jen.com) at January 8, 2009 10:14 AM

'Freinds4ever' and the overused 'Luv Ya!' dot pretty much all of my yearbook entries. I regret losing touch with maybe only a handful of people. Most of the folks that I hung out with stayed around our town or at least in the same county. The first few years after high school, I'd go back and try to make like everything was the same, but the problem was that I had been the one that left, while they stayed behind. So, for them it really WAS like high school, but for me, it was evident that we really no longer had anything in common. So, it just became awkward.

My yearbook entry would extol myself to feel free to beat the asses of a couple key individuals, which would've changed not only my junior high outlook, but quite possibly high school, as well. Also, to lighten the fuck up.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at January 8, 2009 10:22 AM

Take it from me - parents can hardly afford to BUY yearbooks for their kids anymore. They cost like 50 bucks these days.

When I was in 7th grade, I had a crush on a boy named Van Seal. At the end of the year, I got up the courage to ask him to sign my yearbook. He wrote "I'm sure you'll go far in the further." I kinda lost my thing for him after that.

Posted by: Kalisa at January 8, 2009 10:29 AM

Ah, high school yearbooks. I don't have mine- they are at my mom's house buried underneath her stairs. One day I will reunite with them, and seriously, I can wait.

My freshman year in high school I wrote in my friend's yearbook over all our teachers the things they always said or little jabs at them...like the English teacher who I started calling Goody Quentin after reading The Crucible, our algebra teacher "Let's get all our priorities in order" and many others that I don't remember.

And she LOST the yearbook. I kept thinking what if a teacher finds that...they'd know I wrote all that stuff. (even though it WAS true)

Posted by: jessica at January 8, 2009 11:21 AM

My high school yearbooks are way more interesting than junior high, but that comment could get REAL long, so I'll stick with junior high.

There were 8 kids in my 8th grade class (private school, natch); 6 girls and 2 guys. Yeah. Not much of a social life. Two autographs in that 1988 yearbook stand out:

"So, Brooke, What's up or should I say chillin'? You have a fresh summer and swoop up on those guys. BUT save me those fine Mexican guys! OK? Luv you lots n' lots." (from Angie, the Popular Girl)

From Leslie, a younger girl I hung out with: "Thanks for being a good friend all year. Congradtulations (sic)! Maybe I'll see you next year or something by accident. Love, Leslie."

I love the "by accident" bit. Ah, junior high. I was so glad to get on to high school where I didn't know anyone!

Posted by: Brooke Habecker at January 8, 2009 12:46 PM

My high school yearbooks are way more interesting than junior high, but that comment could get REAL long, so I'll stick with junior high.

There were 8 kids in my 8th grade class (private school, natch); 6 girls and 2 guys. Yeah. Not much of a social life. Two autographs in that 1988 yearbook stand out:

"So, Brooke, What's up or should I say chillin'? You have a fresh summer and swoop up on those guys. BUT save me those fine Mexican guys! OK? Luv you lots n' lots." (from Angie, the Popular Girl)

From Leslie, a younger girl I hung out with: "Thanks for being a good friend all year. Congradtulations (sic)! Maybe I'll see you next year or something by accident. Love, Leslie."

I love the "by accident" bit. Ah, junior high. I was so glad to get on to high school where I didn't know anyone!

Posted by: Brooke Habecker at January 8, 2009 12:46 PM

My favorite yearbook entry is from my senior year when my friend of 12 years told me how important I was to her, how great of a friend I was, how she'd never forget me and we'd be friends forever.

Two years later, on New Year's Eve, she made out with my boyfriend in the laundry room of a friend's house. Bitch.

Posted by: GreenCanary at January 8, 2009 3:07 PM

How do we know that you didn't sneak up behind people and vigorously slap THEIR knees? I heard the police were looking for that guy for years. Case is still unsolved...

Also, who says "thanks for being an OK friend." Chris, you're a great blogger and an OK human being. I'd hire you for my newspaper, but if there was only room for 20 of us in the bunker...well, hope you've got some survival skills.

Posted by: croutonboy at January 8, 2009 3:22 PM

When I was in middle school, the "cool" thing to sign in someone's yearbook was "I was the first to sign your crack!" right up the spine. Not that I, ahem, ever did that or anything...

Posted by: La Petite Chic at January 8, 2009 3:36 PM

Way back when, we did not have yearbooks until 9th grade. However, the comments in high school were similar to some of your junior high comments.

Re: the pictures -- I actually have scanned/saved all of my school portraits. Like you, I'm missing one year -- but mine is 5th grade. I must have been exceptionally hideous that year!

As for keeping up with my high school friends, I have a few on my FB friends list, and I use Classmates dot com as well.

Posted by: coolchick at January 8, 2009 7:04 PM

Some people, I can't really "see" them in their high school pictures - you, I definitely can! I'm now curious to look up my old comments...we'll see what happens ;)

Posted by: Heather at January 8, 2009 7:11 PM

I had one guy who said wrote something in my senior yearbook that went something like this: "I am a newt. P.S. I got better." It was the most bizarre comment and the only thing I can gather from the "I got better" part, was that he was trying to get into my pants, which was even more weird because even though our social circles sometimes overlapped, I barely talked to him. And I wasn't exactly one of those people who dated in high school. I was too awkward around guys.

Posted by: statia at January 8, 2009 8:33 PM

hahahaha love it. I hate that I don't have yearbooks.

Posted by: La Petite Belle at January 9, 2009 4:17 PM

First: Drop that line to your mate, he'll love to hear from you, trust me.

Secondly: I'm rather glad I followed that link to your blog.

Thirdly: I'm from Finland, and sadly, yearbooks are not done. I always loved the idea of them though, but for some reason they're just not done. Good for me though, as it would say, exactly as many times as there was people on my class: "Have a great summer. See you next year." That's what I believe anyway. I didn't leave much of an impression back then. :)

Posted by: Sebastyne at January 10, 2009 3:50 AM

thank you bringing up the memories and now I'm going to have to find mine. I reminisce often and am quite the nostalgia fan.

Posted by: whall at January 10, 2009 5:11 PM

I'm sorry to say we don't have yearbooks in Scotland. It's probably only a matter of time before they migrate though - I gather the youngsters nowadays are going to "proms" which I take it are what school discos are called nowadays!

Posted by: Loth at January 10, 2009 6:34 PM

Every couple of years I get sick of having so much STUFF and throw out tons of things. (This is different from the "I'm not packing ONE more thing!" mood that occurs at the very end of packing to move and causes more disposal of goods.
(I've put chairs in the dumpster in those moods.)
During my massive cleanings I get rid of tons of stuff that should go, but invariably toss out stuff I regret throwing away-
like my nursing school books, the love notes from my very first real, steady boyfriend,
and my year books with the exception of senior year.
I most regret losing touch with the little boy who lived next door and was my first real friend. Just as we were coming out of the boys-hate-girls stage at age 10 and starting to rekindle a friendship, his parents moved them from NJ to FL.

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I remember all the crazy zoning in SW Houston -- in Spring Branch, too.

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