Today I was looking back at my high school yearbook. I was struck immediately by how young I looked. Somehow, I forget that at 17-years-old, I was still a child. I remember thinking I knew everything, when I really knew almost nothing. My yearbook is signed by dozens of people who I was friendly with in high school, but have barely spoken to since.
Here are some of the signatures and what people wrote:
Inside front cover:
“Dearest Rich, See you at Bingo and all around. Have fun in all you do. I know you will. Love always, Debbie. PS Don’t forget arm wrestling or S.H. over me.” OK, inside front cover is prime real estate. And I’m getting crap for choosing Sharon H. over Debbie B? For all time, I have to remember that I was a jerk as 17-years-old to Debbie? Damn. Actually, thanks to FACEBOOK, I’ve reconnected with Debbie. We still e-mail from time to time. But I don’t think I ever saw her at Bingo ever again.
“Rich, So many precious moments we’ve shared, so many times together, I don’t want them to end. You know I wish you luck in everything you do especially putting up with me. My love forever and a day, Kid (Joann).” This is hard to read. Joann and I were high school sweethearts. We went to the Junior and Senior prom together. I drove her to school every day after I got my drivers license. But right before the end of school, we broke up. We were going our separate ways in college and we decided on a clean break. I left out a lot that she wrote. It’s like a travelogue of my high school years. So many things we had done together. And after graduation, we never spoke again. Not at any reunions. Not on FACEBOOK. Never. When we graduated, it was over. Forever. And I don’t remember ever calling her ‘kid.’
Pages 20 – 42 – Curriculum
On the next 22 pages are all the teachers. Only one signed my yearbook – Ms. LeVan, the school nurse. Ironically, in three years of high school, I don’t think I ever went to the nurse. Yet there’s her signature and these words of advice “Rich, Best wishes and happiness to one of my favorite guys. Only the best for you. Remember all the good times at Jade East.” I have no idea what she’s talking about. (Jade East was a restaurant in Edison, NJ – but I don’t remember ever seeing her there.) Thanks, Ms. LeVan.
Page 52 – 90 – Sports
Want to know how popular I was with the jocks? The only signatures I got on the next 38 pages were from two cheerleaders. Donna P. and Debbie McK. “Dear Rich, It’s been great these past years and I’m glad we’ve become friends. You’re a really nice person and I’ll never forget you. Best of luck always, love, Mac.” This entry was the heartbreaker. I had a crush on her for years. She sat right behind me in homeroom. We were never more than friends. (Even though I asked her to the junior prom – but she went with Jimmy Winters) You’re a really nice person? I’m still crying over this entry.
Last page and inside back cover:
“Rich, what can I say??? We’ve been through a hell of a lot together. We’ve been great friends and I know we will always stay that way. (This entry goes on for two pages) I know we’ll always stay friends and some day if we play our cards right we will have the business that we’ve always been talking about. I think the good times are just beginning. Love, Ferd.” My best friend, Ken, wrote this entry. And yes, we’ve stayed in touch all these years. He was the Best Man for my wedding. I was the Best Man for his. My children call him Uncle Ken. His daughter is one of my FACEBOOK friends. And while we never opened a business together, we spent time together on vacations, day trips, family get together parties, good times and bad times. Ken is more than a friend. He’s the brother I never had. His entry is the only one where I clearly remember every event he describes. Because they defined my life from 10 to 17-years-old and I hold those memories close to my heart.
So that’s about it. Except for one other entry. On page 248, a friend, Tom Miller wrote an entire page to remind me about a fight we had over two girls, Lynn and Marianne. So Tom, if you’re reading this, yes, I remember – and if you’re ever in New York, I have a slice of pizza with your face written all over it.