Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Lost Friends
Recently I have come back in contact with 2 old friends from high school, both out of the blue. One has been less lost than the other. Mark, my good buddy who ran in my pack, actually lives in Wisconsin - in Madison no less - but he travels pretty extensively (Alaska, Spain, etc.)

Now, a bit of explanation: In high school, I had one very good friend that was a girl and 8 good friends that were guys. Christine and I liked (loved really) having that many guys around all of the time. The guys were Mark, Mickey, Andrew, Steve, Eric, Matt, Craig, & Brad. The guys called themselves "The Regulators" after that Young Guns movie. High school boys, I tell you! Dopes.

But, they were pretty great guys and we all hung around all of the time. Literally. We were constantly together, usually at my house. The thing about high school boys is, they are easily managed. Christine and I would decide what was going on each weekend, we'd let the guys know, and they would show up. Extraneous girlfriends came and went, joining the group on occasion, as did Christine's boyfriends. All in all, though, we were an exceptionally tight group. (I dated one of the guys all through high school, in case you were wondering.)

For me, it was like having 7 big (and little) brothers. They looked out for me, though I resented it. And, because they weren't actually brothers, crushes developed. Proximity breeds familiarity, familiarity breeds comfort, and comfort breeds...interest. I tell ya, Proximity will get ya everytime.

I have the best memories of these guys. I love them all!

Steve was the tallest of the bunch and played on our very succesful varsity basketball team. He was super smart and sexy in that self-assured good guy kind of way. Andrew was the math wiz. Super Brainy. He had rusty red hair, was a great dresser, and played tennis like a demon. He used to write poems with Steve about me when we were in Mr. Lymon's Analytical Geometry class (we used to call that our "shape of shit" class). I still have those poems. I love them! I was paired with Steve and Andrew for a big project in Mrs. Brown's Lit class. Part of the project (on The Grapes of Wrath) was about creativity. Steve and Andrew changed the words to Vanilla Ice's Ice, Ice, Baby to Grapes, Grapes, Baby. John Steinbeck's Grapes, Grapes, Baby. They rapped the whole thing for the class. "Rollin' in Pa Joad's jallopy." I've never laughed so loud or so long. These two took turns falling for Christine, and both dated her. Steve and Andrew used to bet each other over the smallest and most inconsequential of things. I once saw Steve eat a big hairy spider because Andrew bet him he wouldn't. I gagged on the spot. Steve and Andrew now run a business together. Not even surprised. Steve is married to a doctor and living in Chicago. Andrew is married too, but I don't know much about her or where they live.

Mickey was the nicest of the bunch. He played football and everyone got along with him. He wasn't the brightest, but he was the sweetest. He had a crush on my sister for years and never did anything about it. Of course, I would have had to kill him if he did. She was my little sister, and I had heard plenty when these guys talked about girls. Mickey was always the one I figured for a future in politics. He's currently working for a public defender while he pursues law school, I think. I think he's in South Carolina. Mickey is still single, as far as I know.

Mark was the matching bookend to Mickey. Where Mickey was built with football power, Mark was wiry and fast. Mark was more of a tennis and golf kind of guy. In the middle of our Sophomore year, Mark and his parents moved away from Sleepy Hollow to Door County Wisconsin. But, we saw him pretty frequently. He was really smart and Mr. Bodishbaugh's Chem class just wasn't the same after he left. He also had the latest curfew, so before everybody could drive, (I was the first with a license), I ended up spending a lot of time with him, driving him home last. He was most brother-like to me. When we were freshmen, Mark, Mickey, Christine & I would spend a lot of time together going to the movies. Mark was (along with Andrew) one of the most vocal about my love life. Mark didn't feel that Eric treated me well enough, that he certainly didn't deserve me, and that I ought to make a change. He was right, and I can admit that now, but at the time I really didn't want to hear it. At the end of our senior year, literally at graduation, he sent me a letter making his feelings known, but it came as a complete shock to me and I'm afraid that I flubbed it, but good. In all honestly, that could have been a great relationship, if only I hadn't been too stupid to pick up on the clues. Mark is still single, I believe.

Matt was gangly and loveable. He was an only child, though, and even then you could tell that he always needed to be the center of attention. He played tennis, of course, and drove the hottest car! He was big into skiing (along with Craig and Andrew) and I feel like I've known him forever. When I first moved into the "hollow" he chased me through the middle school hallways. Our last names were next to each other in alphabetical order, so our lockers were always smack dab next to each other. I have to tell you, in middle school, he was an annoying little creep. He mellowed, though, or I came to accept the geeky freak. Matt, I knew always had a crush on me. Let's put it this way, on my Sweet Sixteen, Matt called me at 5:30 a.m. and told me to go check the front door. He'd gotten me 16 red roses and laid them on the front step by that time in the morning. He was a great guy. I wasn't interested, always considering him a little brother, but he was really sweet. Matt is married and living in North Carolina. He's a photographer and a computer geek.

Craig was Matt's other half. Shorter and blond, they did nearly everything together. Craig was quiet, but he had this killer wit. When I was in Kansas each summer, he would send me these hilarious letters. He was a really good friend. I could always count on Craig. As a matter of fact, in college, at a low point in my life, I crushed on Craig for a while. It was his quiet confidence and his reliability that drew me in. Unfortunately, he too was always pining for Christine.

At this low point in my life (in college) we all got together at New Year's Eve. Andrew was having a party. I was having a really rough holiday, having just caught my stepfather cheating on my mother (caught red-handed or in flagrante delicto), and desperate to escape the suffocating clutches of my then boyfriend/transition man who felt that I had invited or encouraged my would-be rapist to do the deed, I got drunk for the first time in my life. I'm talking really drunk. 5 Tequila shooters, a glass of Everclear, and I was gone. (Mr. Suffocation himself "surprised" me by showing up at this party. Let's just say I was less than pleased.) Long story short, I was super sick and woke up between Mickey and Craig the next morning (not next to Mr. Suffocation). Thank goodness it was them, I couldn't have trusted anybody else. Craig is working in Chicago, but I don't know much else.

So, we are down to three.

Eric was my boyfriend on and off all through high school. After freshman year, I never dated anybody else. I thought he needed me. His mother was a psycho who I was sure had abused him emotionally. His father was too weak to stop it. His parents, I felt, never supported him. Eric was beautiful. He was a soccer stud and a tennis star. He dressed impeccably and all of the underclassmen girls wanted him. He had that blond god devil-may-care thing going on. And, he knew just what to say to a girl. Hindsight being what it is, I now realize what a schmuck he was. To be honest, he may have cared about me, but it wasn't a fully developed thing. He always cared for himself more. I now recognize that he was a habitual cheater. He cheated at school, on me, and in a thousand other ways. He dated me because that was the image he wanted to project. I was a mover and a shaker, I was Miss Thing, so I must belong to him if he wanted to be Mr. Thing. I spoiled him rotten, and he took full advantage.

Where did this sudden epiphany come from? Ah. College. You see, we would break up every summer when I went to Kansas. I was still wearing his ring, but he had his freedom for the summer. At the end of our Senior year, we did this again. But, we didn't get back together in college. He was dating the ho with which he'd perpetually cheated on me (and anybody else he could get into bed). I started seeing my transition man, Mr. Suffocation.

Unfortunately, and against my wishes to the contrary, Mr. Suffocation pledged the same frat as Eric (and Craig). This meant that I was often at functions at this house, and Eric took the opportunity. He resented my dating someone else (even though he was tom-catting all over campus) and would touch me at times when Mr. Suffocation couldn't see it or wouldn't see it. At first these touches seemed creepy, but were nothing you couldn't blame on the familiarity of three years together. However, eventually they crossed the line and I told Mr. Suffocation about it. But Mr. Suffocation was a pig and felt that I had encouraged the behavior, that it was no big deal. And that was his same message to me when I told him that Eric had tried to rape me a few months later. So, I guess you'd say I don't give a rat's ass what has happened to Eric or Mr. Suffocation. The two jerks deserve each other.

Brad. Brad I despise. Brad was a manipulative little fuck. He was a bad friend. He screwed over his buddies, stole one of their fiancees, and was a weasel. He would drive wedges between the members of our group for fun. Because he loved showing that he could. Eric danced on the end of Brad's string. Not everybody could see his villainy back then, but I could. He was a bastard. Last I heard he was tending bar.

Christine, the only other girl in our group, was my best buddy for a long time. She was cool. She was hip. She was a soccer and tennis stud. She was an artist. And, that's what she does today. She married a Scot she met while traveling in Europe, and they still live in Dundee. She was a great friend and we always had a blast together. We shopped, talked about the boys, and had a terrific trusting friendship. We were each other's sounding boards for break-up speeches. We were there for each other. When I turned 16, she put up a 9-foot sign in our front yard (we lived on the corner of two main streets in the Hollow) that said, "Honk to Wish Phoenix a Happy Sweet 16!" I kept that sign forever. I can still hear the honking.

It was Mark that I heard from again recently. It is always good to hear from an old friend. That's why, I guess, all of these memories have been flooding back.
posted by Phoenix | 12:39 PM


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