I’m not trying to say I’m some weirdo 50-year-old man living in a letter man jacket, but my high school experience was pretty awesome and I’m one of those rare breeds who genuinely enjoys reminiscing about those lost years. Of course there was drama and heartbreak and weird family bullshit, but the amount of fun times, crazy experiences, and really interesting friends I had definitely outweighs the bad. Some might say I even peaked in high school! (My personality and social skills have been on the fast decline ever since.)
Back in high school, my core group of friends consisted of Lisa, Angie and Martha (née Melissa). Given our first names, the obvious moniker for our crew was L.A.M.E. There were some boy members too, like Russ, Evan, Lawson, and Justin, but they weren’t cool enough to change the acronym. Girls rule, boys drool, obvi. Some of my best high school memories involve these people, and I always start to get just a tad bit nostalgic for those days in autumn, because let me tell you: we knew how to do haunted house hopping right.
Lisa, Jason, Jason, Angie, Jason. I believe this was at Phantoms in the Park.
Henry LOVES my LAME stories. J/k. He rolls his eyes at them pretty hard and then smirks but this is just because he’s jealous that I actually had friends in high school.
I loved being part of a group. I loved it so much that I even made a newsletter for us! Granted it was short-lived, but at least I made the effort to keep our group abreast of each others comings and goings. (I even rolled up each individual newsletter like a scroll! I don’t half-ass these things, guys.)
Sometimes we would let other people hang out with us too, like in this case, my friend Shawn.
I would usually invite That One Person to my parties that completely killed the vibe, which is why everyone always looks like they’re at a funeral in my party pictures. Typically That One Person was someone that I had just met in a chat room or literally invited in off the street. At this particular party, I distinctly remember it was my Iraqi next door neighbor Abdul, who was in the States to go to PIA – Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, and who my mom wanted me to call the FBI tip line about years later because she’s a racial profiler, but I low-key kind of wondered about him myself.
Anyway, my point is, these guys were used to my awkward social gatherings yet they still came around because Tru Franz, yo.
I lost touch with most of the LAME crew after high school, except for Lisa. Barring a few hiatuses due to geography and life in general, Lisa and I have managed to maintain a pretty consistent friendship. (It always blows my mind when someone willingly sticks by me for longer than three years! That’s usually the shelf life of my friendships because I’m so stupidly annoying and whiny and melodramatic and probably you could add a lot worse things to that list depending on which person you dig up from my friend graveyard.) But then over the summer, Angie posted an old group photo of LAME + our silent members on Facebook and it spawned a comment thread full of nostalgia and “I miss you”s and “We should”s. So I sent a group message to our crew, minus Martha who lives in Florida now but hopefully she will visit soon, and Russ who isn’t on Facebook. We all agreed that meeting up would be fantastic, and Lawson said that Russ was on board with it too.
But, you know how that goes.
That conversation wound up dead in the water, but then a few Friday nights ago, I was bored at work (Friday night late shift, you guys; the worst) so I resurrected the convo and BAM – plans were made to meet up at our old Denny’s hot spot less than a week later. All day long, I was so excited for this to happen. I hadn’t seen Angie in over 10 years, and it had been even longer since I saw both Lisa and Angie together! Probably at one of my awkward parties in 1998. Lawson had to unfortunately back out the day of, but Lisa and Angie made it. I even snagged the corner booth in the back for us because I got there too early. (Story of my life.)
The level of comfort I felt was off the charts. We talked about our current lives and cracked up over old English project memories and there was definitely some gossip thrown in for good measure. Something terrible happened though! I always pride myself on having the best memory out of everyone I’m friends with—probably because if I write every goddamn thing down, and back in high school, I was VIDEOTAPING everything too. One might say I’m a little obsessed with preservation. Out of all of my friends, Lisa is probably the worst when it comes to remembering things. Sometimes I’ll call her and say, “Guess who I saw from high school?!” and then it’s like we’re on a really boring game show where I’m trying to help her guess who for a brand new washer and dryer. Anyway, on this night, we got on the aforementioned subject about how I was always pulling in strangers off the street, etc, and she said, “Do you remember when I was with you and you picked up that hitchhiker?”
Now, I definitely had a hitchhiker problem for several years, this sick compulsion to pull over and cart them around, and at one point it got so bad that I would actually drive around on highways SEEKING THEM OUT because death wish, I had one. But I didn’t remember Lisa ever being with me! She kept talking about it though, about how pissed she was, how it happened on the side of 79, and it started coming back to me. I began having a vague recollection of a blue-collared man getting in my car and then Lisa and I having a mild argument about it afterward.
Yes, that sounds about right.
And then Angie brought some letters and post cards I had sent her over the years and started reading them out loud. Lisa was like one gigantic eye roll at this point and I was fucking loving it. In case you were wondering, I haven’t changed much.
In 1993, I was in love with a man in Morocco and the sad part is that I remember this VERY CLEARLY and even the fact that Inner Circle’s “Sweat” was playing on the radio in the shop he was working in when I first saw him, what the fuck is wrong with me. And the waiter in the hotel in Capri, 1997? Yup, remember him too. Sorry, Henry!
And I still make my hearts like that, except mostly only with one strike-thru now, in case you were wondering.
Angie started reading this one letter I wrote her right after senior year, where I tell her in painstaking detail what my job at Olan Mills Portrait Studio entails and then SLICKLY delve right into a SALES PITCH. OMG I am definitely the same person. I try to trick Glenn into buying a painting from me pretty much 8x a week.
“Oh my god, Erin, what are you even writing about?” Angie cried, continuing to slough her way through my handwriting circle-jerk. Honestly, I was just in love with my handwriting and would start transcribing the ingredients of my omnipresent Slim Fast meal bars if I started to run out of original thoughts to scribble. And then she paused and asked, “I don’t know what letter this is…” I looked to where Angie was pointing and with that faux-exasperation that everyone loves to hate about me, I sighed, “That’s part of a PARENTHESIS, Angie. GOD!”
“Well, I didn’t know that!” she laughed. “There’s this weird line through it—-”
“Because that’s how I do it, Angie!”
Lisa was just like, “Oh my god.”
I get dramatic sometimes. Sometimes Lisa’s presence exacerbates that and 1996 Erin wants to come out and play (and whine and pout and cry and be bossy). It’s a familiarity thing.
LOL at my Precious Moments stationery and “A-Sexy Nemov” giving me the BEST birthday present when he took his shirt off at the Gymnastics Gala, OMG. I think this was Summer Olympic mania in 1996. I texted this to Christy and neither of us have distinct memories of loving this random Russian gymnast, but we both agreed that it sounds pretty typical of us. Especially the “A-Sexy” part.
We totally overstayed our welcome at Denny’s and I loved every minute of it! Now we just need to drag Martha back from Florida and convince Lawson and Russ (and Evan if he’s not too cool for us now that he owns a tattoo shop — the same place I got my Marcy tattoo, actually!) that we won’t annoy them if they come hang out with us. (I mean, I can’t really promise that.) I think they should all come to my house and help me give Henry more gray hairs.
P.S. The Vegetarian Dinner Party of 1996. NEVER FORGET.