Running Local

This Train of Thought Makes All Stops

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot….

Posted by Bob Kohm on January 9, 2009

sasSince I’m stuck in the house while a tech converts me from cable to FIOS, I’ve been killing time on the laptop before my connectivity drops for an hour or two. I checked in on Facebook to find an invite from an old friend from grade school who, to be honest, I hadn’t thought about in nearly 25 years. Albert was a truly gentle soul and good guy back then, but he went to Monsignor McClancy High School, I went to St. Francis Prep, and life moved on.

Well, take one tentatively re-established tie at 9am and by 11.45 I think I’ve linked to about 50% of my eighth grade graduating class, from fondly remembered friends to ancient foes to the people who just barely hang on at the fringes of my memory. Some I traded street-corner blows with, some I laughed with, some I had schoolboy crushes on and some were better friends than perhaps I realized at the time. The joys of grade & middle school!

I’m left to wonder right now whether these reconnected ties are a good thing. The Holden Caulfield in me says that St. Ann’s 1984 was my Museum of Natural History— until this morning it existed in my memory as it did then, as a group of people whose adult realities were exact reflections of their childhood existences. Melissa was sweet and perhaps a bit awkward and always Mrs. Conway’s favorite. Steven was a pain in my ass who assuaged his insecurities by nailing mine but turned otu to be a pretty good guy at heart. Tara and Alison were best friends and the core of the popular girls clique. Are they still those people? I was a pain in the ass myself as a kid—the classic class monitor/teacher’s pet. While I’ve changed, it was easier to think of the Jennifers and Brians and Phillips of the past as static images. Sister Catherine has been chasing Joey around with a broom for 28 years now; Sister “Pick and Flick” Dorothy is still preening over Angelica and complaining about the boys who make fun of the snot rag she kept under her watchband. One Brian is still the nice guy/brainiac/athlete, another the altar boy and genuinely nice guy, and the third is still the small, dumb bully whose parents beat the hell out of him. Now they’re not. I wasn’t the most popular kid in middle school but I wasn’t at the bottom of the social scale either, although back then my self confidence was close to zero. That seems insane to look back at when I reflect upon the person I became later in high school and college, not to mention the bombast and ego I bring to everyday life. That’s who I still am to these people— it’s always perilous to try and see yourself through other’s eyes, but I imagine that yesterday I was vaguely recalled as the teacher’s pet who could be both a prig but a nice guy to this friends and who just didn’t get the jokes half the time. Now I’m not.

Yesterday I didn’t care if that’s who I was in whatever universe the memories of grade school kids resonate; honestly I’m not sure that I do today.

That’s the thing though– I’m not sure. How ridiculous is that? The little boy on the social fringe within the proud man blessed with friends and family, with a wonderful wife and kids– that little boy maybe does still care. Were it that the better parts of youth were the only visitors to maturity…

In the end, yes, re-established ties are inherently a good thing if for no other reason than that they promote introspection, something we can all use more of. They’re also fun. So, to my friends, to my foes, to my distant memories of St. Ann’s and the QBH Little League, here I am. I am happy to see you.


2 Responses to “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot….”

  1. Yaro said

    Weird, I was just thinking about this same thing the other day when reconnecting with some old Catholic schools classmates. I was thinking, hmmm I wonder how so and so’s brother is doing – and picturing him as a 10-year old. All my mental images of these people have completely been frozen in my mind to the point where I doubt I’d recognize them if I walked past them on the street.

    I even told my mother when I visited that I had reconnected to one guy who was a troublemaker back in school. She responded with “oh that kid was always no good. I never liked him” without even thinking that, hmmm, maybe he might have changed in the last 25 years!

  2. Merv said

    Great blog today and very true.
    It’s amazing how you classify people at one stage/period in your life and they forever remain that way unless you reconnect with them at a much later stage. What is ultimately disappointing or exhilarating is that they either fulfill the image you carry in your memories or they completely surpass it.

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