Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time Flies When You're Having LIFE

[*From the STMcC Archive: 2007, Sept.]

Something arrived in the mail very recently that has me distraught. The moment I turned the envelope over and saw what was stamped on its reverse side I was taken aback:

“Santa Monica High School, Class of ’77
30 Year Reunion”

THIRTY YEAR REUNION?! Now, I don’t like liars to begin with (imagine the vexation I experience when thinking about the world of politics), and I especially don’t like liars when they boldly attack me personally with ridiculous charges of Old Age. This Reunion Committee is trying to convince me that I graduated from high school THREE FREAKIN’ DECADES AGO, when I know for a fact that it was just yesterday! Ooh, that gets my dander up.

But then upon further reflection, it occurred to me that, despite the Reunion Committee’s obviously preposterous exaggeration, there ARE signs that perhaps I didn’t really graduate from high school “just yesterday.” Maybe a little time truly has elapsed.

For one thing, I turned on the radio yesterday but didn’t hear STAYIN’ ALIVE by The Bee Gees. I guess it was only unfounded optimism on their part after all. (Don’t feel too badly Bee Gee boys; no one stays alive forever, especially in the world of entertainment.)

And then there are these many scars on my body. There’s the one on my right forefinger where I gashed it open down to the bone when a glass I was washing burst apart while I was in an intoxicated condition. All my drinking buddies were out partying and I had been enjoying some “Drunken ME Time.” When I saw the profuse amount of blood running out of “Drunken ME”, I wrapped my hand, poured another drink to steady my nerves, and called my parents’ house. I explained to my Ma what had happened, just so that if I expired due to loss of blood, there wouldn’t be some big mystery later about how I died. With hindsight, I realize that I probably didn’t really need to make that call: When my body was discovered on the kitchen floor in a massive pool of its own blood, and the blood-splattered broken glass in the sink and my cleaved finger were noticed, the chances are pretty good that the authorities would have had some reasonable suspicion about what had happened to me. Especially in light of the fact that this was a couple of years before the KGB perfected its infamous Finger Cut Assassination Technique. It’s unlikely that an autopsy and investigation into my death would have been necessary.

Then there’s that big scar where I had a cyst removed. They admitted me to the hospital for this one and anesthetized me into unconsciousness – a very peculiar sensation. The doctor said, “I’m going to introduce something into your IV now that will put you to sleep and when you wake up it will be” “All over”, said the nurse peering down at me when my eyes opened in what seemed like the same moment. The phenomenon seems oddly akin to my current situation. It’s as if in the very same moment that the school’s principal was shaking my hand and handing me my diploma, a few blocks away at the post office, the 30 year Reunion Committee was depositing my invitation into the mail slot.

But there are other indications that I didn’t really graduate from high school “just yesterday”: I remember the acting career that I was trying to get off the ground. No sooner was it slightly airborne than it returned to earth like the Hindenburg. And I may have slightly overindulged in adult beverages at some point because I have a vague recollection of a rather severe hangover that I suffered in 1980 through 1986. I do, however, vividly recall experiencing euphoria at Dodger Stadium when I witnessed firsthand one of the most celebrated moments in the history of sports: the injured Kirk Gibson’s amazing ninth inning, two-out, Game 1-winning 1988 World Series home run against the Oakland Athletics. In the parking lot afterwards, passing a ten-year-old boy clutching his dad’s pant leg in one hand and a wilted A’s pennant in the other, I said, “How ‘bout them Dodgers?” The boy nodded mutely and I could clearly see in his eyes that he was completely numb in body, mind, and soul. The two of us combined represented the ultimate illustration of “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

Of course, it hasn’t all been THAT much fun, and I know that at least a little time has passed since my high school graduation because some of the people I love the most are no longer here with me. Two good friends committed suicide: Andy shot himself, and Ty let the cops do the shooting. And my acting buddy, Marty, was killed instantly when a guy trying to elude the police in a stolen car during a high-speed chase, ran a red light at Arlington Avenue and Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles, while Marty was coming through the intersection on the green.

I held my Pa’s hand while he was slipping out of his earthly life in 1996, and I did the same thing for my Ma nine years later when God decided that He needed her more than I did. (Yeah, I’m an orphan.)

But the fact that my brother, Napoleon, is neither dead or in prison is pretty much all the evidence I need to prove that 30 years CANNOT have passed since my high school graduation. And as if that wasn’t enough proof, I’m asked to believe that 3 decades later, Sylvester Stallone is STILL playing boxer Rocky Balboa? Ha!-Ha! That’s too rich!

But then again, I remember myriad “odd” jobs I’ve had. There was that three week period where I was a telemarketer while looking for “real” work. Then one day I told my boss, “No, I will not solicit donations for Planned Parenthood; no, I will not tell people that every one and a half minutes around-the-clock, fifteen acres of rain forest are being razed; and no, I will not inform gullible Libs that the DNC must raise 3 million dollars in the next week if it is going to have any hope of saving America from fascist space alien Conservatives determined to deflower their daughters and sell their sons to Israel for secret sacrificial rites to Jehovah.”

“Well, why don’t you quit then?” he suggested. And so I took his advice and “hung up” my telemarketing career.

Or the juice delivery route I enjoyed: it entailed driving 100 miles a day through the Phoenix Summer (normal daytime temps of 106 degrees) in an old, beat-up, non-air conditioned, non-refrigerated truck. Factoring in all of the stops I had to make, I sat down to do the math (always a misadventure with me) and concluded that I had to average 101.4 miles per hour if I was to get all of the juice delivered before it spoiled. The Phoenix Police Department was very understanding; not only did the cops not attempt to arrest my progress, but oftentimes when they saw my dilapidated truck approaching in the distance, they would stop traffic for me. The cops knew that I honestly didn’t have time to obey traffic signals.

In ruminating on these dog-eared pages of my own life, it seems to me that our lives are just a series of Ups and Downs, Joys and Pains, Guillotines and Superglue. (Hmmm… “Guillotines And Superglue” -- that might make a good title for the autobiography I have no reason to write and no readers to read.) To paraphrase John Lennon, I’ve found that “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy daydreaming about making love to Laurie Partridge.”

But what about this 30-year reunion invitation? I won’t be attending the reunion because, in the first place, no one would believe that it was really me there. My senior year in the Theater Arts Department, I was voted the incongruous combination of “Best Body”, “Best Legs”, and “Shyest.” (That last one translates to: “The Nonentity Least Likely To Turn Up On The Internet 30 Years Later With A Sense Of Humor And A You-Can-Kiss-My-Keister Attitude.”) Who’s going to believe that the formerly shyest person is now in possession of a Terrell Owens mouth and a Don Rickles personality? I can hear them now: “Alright, who are you REALLY? And what have you done with Stephen T. McWhatzhisname?”

The reunion announcement includes an E-mail address and I recognized the names of 3 of the 4 people on the Committee. There’s a current photograph of Sally D., who looks older than I remembered. The poor girl. I’m sure glad that -- other than the pimples that have disappeared from around my chin area -- I look exactly the same. It was either Sally D. or Sharon D. who did the 80-proof stagger into the ninth grade Student Government class one day, sat down at her desk and then promptly threw up all over it. I’m very tempted to E-mail the Committee to enquire about it, but I’m not sure if that’s an appropriate opening after not having seen nor spoken with a person for (supposedly) 30 years: “Hi, Sally. Was it you who threw up on her desk in Student Government? So, WHAT’S UP these days?”

And then there’s Eve B. Now the funny thing about this is that not long ago I happened to come across my old 6th grade class photo and was very surprised to see that Eve B. was obviously the prettiest girl in the class. So how come I wasn’t skirt-chasing her back then? I never paid the slightest bit of attention to Eve, but instead, I had a crush on a little redheaded girlfriend. (Our relationship ended in 7th grade when she made fun of my braces by calling me “Tinsel Teeth.” I was hurt deeply. I’m more mature and less hypersensitive now. If it happened today, I’d just fire off an immediate retort and that would be the end of it: “Whatever you say, Hennahead.” Like I said, I’m more mature now.)

I can’t for the life of me figure out why I wasn’t following the pretty Eve B. around the playground with my tongue picking up dirt, leaves and discarded chewing gum. Was I not just dumb, but BLIND, too? And since my brother and Eve’s brother, Bruce, were friends, I had plenty of opportunities to get to know Eve. (Obviously her parents had no sense of humor or they would have named her brother Adam.)

I’d like to E-mail the Committee and tell Eve that I now realize that she was the supermodel of the 6th grade, but I’m afraid that it might come off sounding a little like a 30-year retroactive pickup line. Truth is, even if by some slim chance the girl is optically challenged and insane enough to be slightly interested in me, I can’t afford a wife and I’m too tired for a girlfriend. So, should I contact the lovely Eve or not? I dunno. I think maybe I’ll wait for now, and E-mail Eve on the occasion of our 50-year graduating class reunion . . . tomorrow.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

2 comments:

mousiemarc said...

I have to be brief but wanted to message you.

Thank You for Song Of The South, haven't seen it yet but I'm extremely appreciative.

America: Freedom to Fascism... One of the best I've ever seen. I'll finish the other two in due time and send them back. Thank You...

Haven't talked to you in awhile. God Bless You,

marc

S.T.McC. said...

BR'ER MARC:
You're quite welcome. "S.O.T.S." is obviously a gift (yours to keep), the others, I would like back at some point. But I realize that you're rather busy these days, so don't feel rushed about it.

~ STMcC
<"As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11>