Tuesday, October 05, 2010

High-School Yearbook

Facebook causes you to come into contact with people you haven't seen for a long time. The consequence is you are often confronted with 'friending' a person that, for all intents and purposes, is a total stranger. Old-school as I am, I do not just click "confirm" without any sort of confirming process to go along with it. Last week required one such confirmation where (as I often do) I turned to my stack of yearbooks. I have them all from 7-12. They have sat on various bookshelves gathering dust for more than 20 years now. As I flipped along, looking to see if I even knew the person who wanted to be my friend, something grabbed my attention. Writing in the margins and over some of the pictures. Sarah, my serious high-school girlfriend, had written some things by photos of herself (mostly self deprecating) or me (glowing praise).

There was another hand at work on those pages. It wrote "nice hair," on some outrageously tall dos, made fun of a kid who played the bagpipes, made insinuations about several girls levels of sexual activity, joked that the male athlete of the year was on steroids. I was irritated that someone had defaced my yearbook when we were passing them around to be signed. There was an "L" on someone's forehead and a can of beer drawn in someone's hand. Then I noticed "Don't mind the lisp...FAG!" scrawled across a guy's picture. What? I wanted to take the book and rip it up and burn it. I was so angry. Angry and ashamed because the handwriting was mine.

Before this repulsive revelation, my memories of school were pure joy. Angst over girls. Captaining various sports teams. Excelling in my class work. Camping, parties and friends. Now this. I have always been somewhat oblivious. And I have always tended to conveniently forget some of the less pleasant moments of my childhood. Now I have a permanent record.
I was mean.
I was jealous.
I was thoughtless, careless and hurtful.
I thought that I was a gift to the world because I was good at everything. But I hurt people and, far from caring, I didn't even take notice.
Please allow me to indulge in the past tense here. Please.

This tale might have seemed just if I were to have discovered that the person wanting to befriend me on Facebook was one of the people that I had silently, cowardly maligned. As it turns out, I couldn't find a record of the person at all. No great step forward. No healing. Just shame as I moused over a few inches and did what comes a little too naturally to me. I clicked "Ignore."