Anyway, here's a piece I wrote July 1, 2002 in my LJ. More entries will be forthcoming, and in the meantime the moderators are more than welcome to any and all of my LJ entries in any combination and/or configuration should they choose to do any extracurricular scouring in their spare time. Hopefully something will spark an adaptation or at least an inspiration.
CURRENT OUTFIT: Wire-rim glasses, long-sleeve white t-shirt, blue jeans, slippers.
High school friend of mine Eric (who I can count on my hands the number of times I've talked with him since I graduated high school -- he was three years behind me -- but we hung out a lot and were good friends my senior year of high school) IMed me immediately upon my signing on.
I was going to post the entire chat here but like a stupid fucking dildo I just accidentally closed the window without saving it. Argh! Fuck!
Anyway, long chat short.
ME: Hey, Eric, what's up?
ERIC:: well..it's not good.
And right then and there I knew someone had died.
It was a high school acquaintance of ours, Aaron. He had been killed in a car accident earlier in the evening. He was a year behind me. He was in band with us, and played trumpet. Neither of us were close friends with him or anything, but we got along with him and we both liked him.
After a while of talking about that, Eric and I ended up doing a lot of catching up and reminiscing about the good ol' days from high school band. We talked about our fun memories and talked shit about the people we didn't like in band, and traded a little bit of gossip.
He told me about how Bill (the former head of the public schools access television station in our town, whose office and studio was down the hall from the band room, and who our group of friends hung out with and liked) slept with an intern (i.e., an underage high school girl) and got fired for it, and is now working at Channel 7 in Boston. I had already known about him getting fired and why he got fired (I had found out from our mutual friend Peter some months ago), but among the new information Eric related to me was the girl's name (I knew her vaguely -- she played flute in band) and the Channel 7 thing.
In turn, I told Eric the rumor I heard some years ago about Mike Griffin fucking Amanda Agnew up the ass in the shower. What made this unverified (despite the reliable source) rumor especially interesting was the fact that, at the time and up through at least a couple of years later, Amanda was a "technical virgin" (this much I definitely knew for a fact).
Anyway, Eric is going to call me within the next few days about when the service/wake for Aaron will be, and possibly about hanging out at some point this summer.
This thing with Aaron made me feel awkward. It is an awkward feeling for me when someone I knew only on a casual basis dies unexpectedly and suddenly.
What makes the feeling all the more troublesome is this:
When I was in second grade, at our elementary school, every morning when the bell rang we lined up in a certain order to go inside to school.
Near me (perhaps right behind me? I don't remember) in line was a girl, one of my classmates, named Katie G. (I know her last name, but do not care to state it in this public LJ). I didn't know Katie G. all that well. Enough to say hi to. Not as well as I knew, say Aaron (in what would be another eight to ten years to come). That's about it. I wasn't good friends with her or anything. But we were on casual, friendly terms. Didn't talk much, though.
Anyway, one morning, Katie wasn't there. And I asked where she was, and I think I observed that we weren't in the right order and we had to leave room for Katie. And I was told by my classmates that Katie had died. And I was like, "Bullshit." I didn't actually say "Bullshit," or any other swear, but that was definitely the subtext of whatever I did say, which I don't remember.
But they insisted upon it, and I refused to believe them, because it was so stupid and outrageous. She was only a kid, like us, for crying out loud. How could she be dead.
Turns out she was dead. They were right.
She had died during the night from some sort of blockage of her airway. Something that, had the doctors known in time, could have easily been fixed (by sticking their fingers down her throat). It was not something she had to die from. But she did die from it.
Anyway, I didn't take it too terribly. It was kind of weird, because I didn't know her that well, and I felt a little bad that I didn't know her that well and thus couldn't feel as bad I felt I should have about someone I knew dying. But at the time, it just didn't affect me that much.
My maternal grandfather had died of lung cancer about four (or so) years earlier, and it was very gradual (from my standpoint) and I had spent almost all my time with him since he got sick, as my parents knew he was dying. And it had been explained to me that he was sick and dying and what death was, and that soon the angels were going to come to take Grandpa George away. So his then impending death was something I understood and was prepared for. I was very young, and to me it wasn't like I was suddenly going to lose this person who I loved very much. It was just some fact of life and my world -- that the angels were coming for Grandpa George soon. It wasn't that difficult to accept. I understood at the time from a logical perspective that death was a big deal, bigger than I knew I could comprehend. Yet realistically, it didn't weigh heavily upon me. It was just something that was going to happen, and because the angels were coming to take him to Heaven, it didn't strike me as a tremendously bad thing.
So, anyway, the angels came for Grandpa George one night, as promised, and that was that. Up until then, from the time he was sick, every day (pretty much) I had gone over my grandparents' house to spend time with my grandmother and Grandpa George, and played with Grandpa George (who was always lying on the couch by the storm windows, with the sun shining on him and all the white pastie things connected to wires stuck on his chest and belly, and I sat on his chest while feeding him grape popsicles (what's the thing about cancer patients and popsicles, btw?), and otherwise spent lots of time there and had fun with Grandpa George. And then one day we went to the house and the couch was empty, and Mom told me that the angels had taken Grandpa George. And I was disappointed (perhaps as a child might be by being told his neighborhood friend can't come out to play because he's moved away), but I had known for a long time coming that this would happen, and despite my disappointment, I was pretty happy-go-lucky in comparison to everyone else in the house.
I'm not sure if this actually happened or not, but perhaps I remember wondering, and perhaps even asking outright, why everyone was so upset since the angels had taken Grandpa George to Heaven. It's a likely memory anyway. I was like 4 or 5 years old so it is difficult to remember these things.
I digress from my story about Katie G., but the point I wanted to make was that I was familiar and comfortable (as much as a 2nd grader could be) with the concept of death, and this was a major contributing factor to my not being quite so upset at the time over Katie's death (compounded, again, with my not knowing Katie that well).
It sounds terrible to say, and this probably isn't quite what I mean at all, but I think I couldn't understand what the big deal was about death. The angels took Katie to Heaven. Yes, I can certainly understand how her loved ones would be upset, especially by such a sudden death, but it really had very little hold on me.
The school counselor came to our class that day and we were given each a big sheet of drawing paper, and in some of his talking about Katie and her death, we were told to each draw a picture of a memory that we (respectively) had shared with Katie. He said that if we couldn't think of something specific to draw, or if we didn't know her that well, we could make something up.
This is what I did. I made something up. I drew a picture of me telling a knock knock joke to Katie. I've always been very much into jokes, and at the time I was very big on knock knock jokes. I even had a book called 1,001 Knock Knock Jokes. I think I still have it, even.
I remember thinking, as I drew the picture, that this was pretty silly. I didn't know her that well. Why was I drawing this made-up memory picture of her and me. I understood that this was to help each of us cope with her passing, but I felt that it wasn't particularly applicable to me because I was not very close with her, so I thus had nothing substantial with which to cope.
I also remember feeling pretty bad because for the life of me, I couldn't think of a single thing to draw other than me telling her a knock knock joke. I could not think of a single interaction I had with her (or, if I had, I couldn't think of one that was worth drawing or that I was able to draw). So I had to draw something made up, which made me feel bad and guilty.
As I type all of this, it strikes me painfully just how little I really knew her (to my recollection).
Anyway, Katie G.'s parents and my mother and grandmother (i.e., my mother's mother, Grandpa George's wife -- I call her Nani) were friends, and my grandmother still sees Katie's mother every now and again I guess.
So here's the kicker.
Come to find out last year (it was either last summer, or this past winter break)... Katie's mother had told Nani, who in turn had told Mom, who in turn told me (in some random casual conversation we were having at the time)...
Katie G. had a big crush on me.
Every day, when she came home from school, her mother would ask her how school was, and Katie would say, "Today, Joey did this, and Joey etc. etc.." She would go on and on about me.
And her mother said that sometimes she wonders, "What If," if Katie had lived, if the two of us would have dated, or become involved, or whatnot.
So my mother told me this.
And my immediate reaction (which was also an attribution to my feelings over my failings in the romance department, this aside) was hardy, embittered laughter.
...as the very first thought that came to mind upon my hearing this news was, "Figures. The one girl who actually had a crush on me and was interested in me, croaked back in second grade."
This, of course, was the only way I could immediately cope with this startling news.
As it set in several minutes later on, I felt an immense loss and melancholiness.
I still feel it: as I type this; as I think about it.
I still cannot begin to describe the sad, empty melancholy that I felt and still feel, knowing this and reflecting back.
Katie was a pretty girl. I mean, for a second grader. And she was nice.
And I didn't even know her. Not that well.
Instead, back in first and second grade, I had a major crush on a girl named Lisa (her last name began with a G, and was Polish, ending in "ski"). She was tall, and this kid David M. had a crush on her too. He was taller, slicker, suaver, and better looking than I was. I was determined to have Lisa, and not to let him get her.
Anyway, Lisa wasn't interested in either one of us, but this didn't stop me. And when David M. decided to drop out of having a crush on Lisa, I pursued even harder, to the eventual point of, in second grade, making Lisa so uncomfortable with me that she told her parents, who in turn talked to my mother, who in turn talked to me. And I gave up my pursuit of Lisa, which is just as well, because on reflection she really wasn't, nor did she turn out to be, all that pretty.
And yet, stupid me, ignorant to Katie, and her feelings, and perhaps even her existence. I don't know. Blah.
Perhaps the ill-fortune I've experienced in romance is karmic payback for my blindedness to Katie's interest while I haplessly and stupidly pursued my own idiot schoolboy pining.
It's not even the romance aspect that bothers me most of all. What is most important and most telling is this: It's that she wanted to know me. To get to know me. Katie wanted to be my friend.
And I hardly remember a fucking thing about her.