August 26, 2013

  • And to think that it happened on Facebook

    I'm an open book on the internet. In fact, if I ever publish my memoirs, of which I've nearly completed writing in the near decade I've been a blogger and over a decade in which I've been posting personal 'reminiscences' on my website, I'll call it "Reading Me Like A Book", not so coincidentally the title of one of my many poems, written back in the 80s before I ever heard of the internet.

    As a blogger, I'm perfectly transparent, but I've always made a point not to write about people in my life without their permission, if they are part of my current group of friends. As I age, that group gets smaller, and most of the folks about which I've added many "colliding words" of my longtime blog "WhenWordsCollide" are from my past, and not people I 'know' or with whom I regularly interact.

    When I got together with Liz (@The_Queen_Of_Swords) I was writing my popular Xanga series "My Sexual History". I told her: "You know you may become a chapter in my blog, don't you?" To this day, nearly 10 years later, I haven't written that chapter, cause Liz is still one of my friends. I received a comment on one of the chapters of "Dear Misanthrope: My Life With Pat." in which the writer told me he hoped I'd gained permission from my ex paramour before writing about her. I didn't. For all anyone knows, I don't use her 'real' name anyway. If she were to read the story (and as I write in said story, she never even read the poems I dedicated to her, she just wasn't a reader) I would hope she would notice I may have written about some bad times with her, but I never hated her and forgave her for any misconceptions in our relationship after it ended. 

    I just wrote an entry about "My Strangest Xanga Relationship." The "relationship" happened "on Xanga and is fresh in the memories of anyone blogging here. The gal about whom I was writing did not use the username "QueenLoonatic". Everyone who commented on the entry knew exactly who I was writing about, but I wrote the entry hoping that even though I was calling the relationship "strange" I wrote it with the express purpose in mind that if the subject of the entry were to read it, they wouldn't get too upset. I'm always making the attempt in my writing to be truthful, open, and reasonable, even if writing about something or someone who hurt me or whom I may have hurt.

    Among the blog entries written by other Xangans I've read in my near decade on Xanga, are many in which the writer doesn't necessarily want their subject to read what they are writing. These bloggers may have friends and family from which they want to extract themselves for a moment, and "rant" or "expunge" their "true feelings" about some thing or event. In my long history "here" I've always pooh poohed this "confessional" type of blogging, proclaiming that I'm not that way. I'm the "open book." I don't care about what others think. I'm writing the "truth" and I'm gaining permission if those people are in my current "orbit."

    The previous paragraphs are merely the prelude to what I want to say here right now, and believe it or not, I'm writing this as a Xanga blog because perhaps the person about which I'm going to write a bit in the next few paragraphs may get upset if they read what I'm about to write. As usual, I'll make an attempt to present the facts as well as possible, and not hurt them if they do stumble upon this. I won't use the gentleman's real name. I will tell you that I reconnected with an old friend (miraculously, a real good friend at the time, but one whom I've never written on the internet, and I've written nearly every "chapter" of my long life right here in cyberspace.) and after visiting my old friend, I felt sort of strange, and would like to relate the tale. I told some folks at work, and received some feedback, which I believe is why we, as humans do take to certain forums on the internet to relate these tales. And here is mine.

    I was a pretty big "druggie" during the late 70s and early 80s. I have written about some of these times, In 1977 I was fired from my job as a manager at Ole's Home Centers because I supposedly wore a "dirty shirt" to work one day, but I was actually fired because I and a lot of the folks who worked for me in the garden department would party pretty hard, and sometimes most of the department would call in "sick" following some party or other in which I was involved.

    Danno, Steverino, and I were good buddies. Both of the guys worked for me as salesmen in the garden department. We went to rock concerts at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, high as kites. We dropped acid (LSD) together, drank gallons of beer, smoked fields of marijuana, and played loud music. One time the cops came to my apartment in the midst of a party and I answered the door saying "I'm dazed and confused" It was raining at the time, and the policemen wore yellow rain slickers. After they identified themselves. "We're the police!" I proclaimed "You aren't the police. Police are BLUE. You're YELLOW." Good times. I've possibly forgotten most of them.

    After I stopped my wanton ways, and joined the establishment in which I'm now ensconced as an electrical designer, I lost track of Danno and Steverino, although  at one time we called ourselves "The Three Musketeers." I rarely think about those times, and haven't really written about them, possibly because the old axiom that states that if you remember the 70s you didn't really live through them. Most of that time is a blur.

    Imagine my surprise when Danno sent me a "friend request" on Facebook. I thought he must surely be dead. I CAN remember staying at his place in North Torrance drunker than a skunk on Friday nights where each of us would just stare at each other across the bar declaring "Fu*k you." "No, Fuuu***k YOU,"

    Good times.

    I gave Danno my phone number and he called me a few weekends ago. He still lives in North Torrance, only a few miles from where I live. In the time since we hung out together, he's had a stroke, is partially blind, doesn't drink anymore owing to an auto immune disorder (like AIDS), doesn't have a license and can't drive because he's legally blind and is pretty much housebound. He lives with his wife and six dogs, has four grown children, and though when I knew him he was an outrageous comic artist, since his stroke he can hardly see and on the phone joked about how he has a large comic collection he can't even see to read anymore.

    We talked three times on the phone over the weekend. After the third time, I got the idea that perhaps he really didn't have anyone to talk to. Like me, a lot of folks in his life had passed away. Almost his entire family was gone (mother, father, brothers) and one sister was pretty far gone with alcohol poisoning and another was estranged. We reminisced, and caught up on small talk.

    Last weekend I made a date to visit him. When I asked him if he were free, he joked "Let me see what it says in my calendar." The poor guy doesn't seem to go anywhere, and all he has is memories. I spent about two and a half hours visiting. His wife slept late, and when she awakened, paid me only the smallest bit of lip service, then left to go shopping with her daughter (now adult, whom I last saw as a five year old). The dogs drove me crazy. They barked whenever I made a move to get out of my chair. Danno and I reminisced some more and he told me most of what had happened since we stopped being buddies. He still smokes marijuana. (I wouldn't accept a toke, since I was driving. I would smoke if at home, but the same applies as with alcohol, I just don't imbibe if I'm out and about. Of course Danno didn't seem to EVER go out.)

    After a while, I simply had to take my leave, and Danno kept talking about this and that. He wanted to write a story with me. He wanted to get back together. I begged off,  I really did have to go somewhere, but I felt bad because I felt as if we'd gone pretty much over the territory with which we shared an interest. I am NOT the person I was back in 1977.  Even though Danno has gone through some bad luck, he was in effect, the same guy.

    This isn't a bad thing. But as I drove home I got to thinking. I've reconnected with quite a few folks "from the old days" on Facebook. And even before then, I remember reconnecting with people on with whom I went to high school. After the requisite greetings and "what have you been up to's" I found I don't have a lot in common with old classmates. What we shared in high school was HIGH SCHOOL. We don't really have any connections nowadays.

    Sure, some old classmates are among my Facebook Friends. One gal who was on my staff of the school newspaper "likes" my status updates, and I do hers, but we're not physically nor emotionally connected. I WAS connected with Danno, but I felt more like I was visiting a person who'd had an accident in his hospital room and wanted to exit said room as soon as possible after an hour or so.

    I hate to relate that when I got home Friday night and saw a message on my phone I hoped it wasn't from Danno inviting me to go visit again. This may sound harsh, and perhaps it is, but I've found that when reconnecting with people on the internet, we have the option of walking away from the computer, and doing our "connections" on our own time, siphoning those entries or "status updates" which interest us, and ignoring the rest. In "real time" especially when sitting in someone's living room, and confronted with "real time" and "real situations" especially when we find we really don't have anything currently in common with the person with whom we've reconnected, it's a tad more incongruous. I like to think I'm one of the best friends a person could have, and I've "lost" a lot of friends over the years. But perhaps in my advancing stages of life, I want to be more or less "on my own." 

    This visit won't be my last. I'll probably call Danno again in a week or two, perhaps have another long phone conversation, and maybe go visit. I'd love to show him some of my videos. (But he's partially blind) I'd love to talk about weight lifting or eating healthy or some of my other current interests, but he's not into that. And I'm possibly not into the things he is, and certainly don't share the things in which we were both interested back in our "druggie days."

    Who knows? Maybe we'll visit more and more. Or maybe less and less. My point is that when we get "friend requests" from old friends, we sometimes find that the thing or event or shared experience which bound us "back in the day" simply doesn't exist anymore, and therein lies the rub. 

    Posted: August 24, 2013 7:01 PM

Comments (90)

  • I've reconnected with a lot of high school friends on FB, none from college, oddly.  It's nice, as I went to a very small HS and all we were a tight group, guess we still are in some ways, even though most live in MD, and I moved to FL in '85.  It seems odd to me that most of my FB 'friends' are HS  or Xanga friends or family, and the minority are people I know from my current life. Wonder what that says about me. 

    Interesting account of your re-connection, although it sounds like one in which you may have to keep in check or it may take over your free time!  It would be great if Danno were more active and could do things outside of the house.  You're correct about common interests... you can only rehash the past so many times.  

  • The person I am now and the person I was in High School have nothing in common! In High School I saw myself as fat and ugly. When you are aware of these faults you are shy or loud. I am embarrassed to say I was loud. After I married a handsome vet and had two children, the weight was gone and I had acquired a bit of sophistication I went to my first homecoming and exchanged pictures. I was stunned . I was not fat and I was reasonably nice-looking.  I mourned for that girl who was so scared and without a defense. 

  • I always find it fascinating hearing about people like you who had these crazy years way back when and came out on the other side. My dad was like that to some degree. He used to tell me when I was a teenager, "don't do drugs, but if you get curious about something, come to me. I've tried them all, so I can tell you all about it." That is why whenever we get into a dispute about our recollection of a certain event or conversation, I just look at him and shake my head. How the hell can he claim to remember things better than I do with a half fried brain?!!

  • @Sojourner_here - About six years ago, after one of my classmates discovered my email, I attended the 50th class reunion.   Of course, a number of classmates are no longer around, but it was an unusual turnout.  Hardly any of the various person groups were there, so we were a mixture of people who didn't really hang out together.  The meanest guy in the class is now a Christian and has a daughter who is a missionary overseas, and the bully who used to pull pranks on me, is now forwarding all sorts of things to me via email.   The past is definitely the past, though.   Even my old home was almost unrecognizable when I drove around the town

  • my life is an open book also

  • It's amazing how much your life can change in just the course of a few years, even a few months.  I can safely say I am not the same person I was in high school.  I'm not even the same person I was a year ago.  My recent trip down Xanga Memory Lane taught me that.  (Wow, what a trip it was!)

  • Reconnecting with people from our pasts is an interesting thing. Sometimes we've moved on...grown...and have nothing in common but the memories. Other times, for me, it's like we just talked yesterday.
    This was a very interesting and good post, Mike!

  • never once have I felt I met a different person when connecting with long lost people.... however the feeling has always been a shadow of the real experience shared.  however many times while the past is past it is neet to here the new stories as enough time has passed to make them :D  this is rare enough but well worth the open door policy.

  • You always  have a great way  with  words :)   DUH :)   I think where we miss things is that   we really want to know "what  ever happened to...."  Kinda like moving  a  few chapters up in the  book !( or  to the end of  their book)

    I think in a lot of ways I have been  really blessed  via  FB is catching up with people  I thought  were lost  to  me forever( that kind of happens if you move 15 times  growing up) I like that ..But  sometimes.. past the " reminiceing" and the "  what are you up to  now.",you are right.....   We moved on and it  is not what it was .

    But  I would not pass up knowing the  what  ever happen to ..,part :)   I  love it

  • i really enjoyed reading this story..i find it very moving...

  • I think I have read this entry at least ten times. It covers almost every thing I experienced! Of course, since  I am in my, eighties what Is unusual about that? 

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