Do you remember…

Recently, on Facebook, I was offered the chance to friend people whose names were vaguely familiar, because ‘You both attended [high school].’

Ye-eah. No offense, helpful electronic data device, but somehow I doubt Brooke and Michelle et al are dying to know what became of the moon-faced kid huddled in the back with her nose buried in Uhura’s Song. (You young geeks generally, on the other hand, might want to spare just a moment for us nerdly pioneers, without whose struggle you might never have been graced with Chuck Norris or Katee Sackhoff. Show some respect! *whacks young’uns wiith plastic lightsaber*)

Anyway, I was thinking about how bizarre it all is, that you can just pluck people out of the chaotic mass of your former existence and award them relevance in the here and now. Bringing memories back to life like that is an awe-ful concept, when you think about it…

…which somehow leads me around to Oliver.


It was the last day of Grade…Six, I think. Old enough to have known better, but not old enough to avoid the kind of classroom game where you all stand in a circle and the teacher has you turn to the person beside you and say something nice about why you’ll remember them. I had not much reason to be hopeful about my own memorial. And it didn’t help that I was standing next to Oliver.

He was the class clown, a position much lower on the social scale in those pre-High School Musical days. Tall and skinny, with a nasally voice and a bit of a cloud-cuckoolander vibe, the kind where you can never tell if it’s goofiness or genius. Personally – despite the occasional glimmer of interesting – my big money was on goofiness.

So we’re standing there, and the teacher says ‘Oliver? What will you remember about [Shoe?]’ Then she thinks a sec, and adds ‘…be nice.’

Oliver dutifully turns to me, and without a second’s hesitation says ‘I will remember you, [Shoe] because… you have beautiful eyes.’

The entire circle roared. The teacher nearly collapsed. I nearly collapsed. Tried frantically to figure out where to look – the floor, the teacher – yelping ‘Well, yes she does!’, thanks a lot, oh Guide and Protector of my fragile young psyche – the – auuugh, Oliver was still standing there staring placidly at me! What did he think he was doing, anyway? What did he – all this time he –

All in all, a weird way to spend the best moment of my life.

Eventually, it was my turn to say something to Oliver. Everyone was quiet, focussed in totally on me – me, the nerd in the corner. My mind was racing. I couldn’t waste this moment. Not that I didn’t already have the perfect reply; I would simply turn, smile and say: ‘I will remember you, Oliver… because you say such nice things." It would be so elegant, gracious and sweet –

Um, maybe a little too sweet ? I mean, I didn’t want to sound stupid about it or anything. ‘Because… you make me laugh?’ Noooooo. People said that kind of thing in the movies. And I really didn’t want Oliver to think – I mean, he was a nice guy and all, but I was now a Person who had Beautiful Eyes. I had standards to uphold.

So finally I turned to him and said, ‘I will remember you, Oliver, because… [insert my best proto-Mean Girl smirk here] you’re rather loud."  

Yeah. It went over just about as well as you’d imagine it would. Oliver looked startled and hurt – I think, because it’s hard to catch nuances off darting glances. One of them caught the teacher’s eye, too. She grimaced and mouthed ‘Something nice?’

I shrugged back. She turned away – so did Oliver – and the game resumed. I have never been so grateful for a last day of school bell in my entire life.

[screen wavers, coalesces around present-day computer screen]

I never saw Oliver again. But in an ironic way he was vindicated regardless; every time I remember the sweetest compliment I ever received… I also have to recall myself acting like a total jerkwad.

Oliver, on the off chance you’re reading this – or if Facebook ever finesses its recommendations to include ‘people you want to make it up to from grade school’ – I’m really, really sorry.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. solo_1
    Sep 16, 2009 @ 13:01:28

    Oh, poor Oliver – shame on you Shoe!

    The things we do as children, I had my mean moments too.

  2. solo_1
    Sep 16, 2009 @ 13:01:28

    Oh, poor Oliver – shame on you Shoe!

    The things we do as children, I had my mean moments too.

  3. Trackback: solo_1
  4. Shoebox
    Sep 20, 2009 @ 00:23:48

    The things we do as children.

    Yeah. ๐Ÿ˜›

    It has always struck me as singularly unfair that the price of these moments increases the more you grow out of them. Or, as Shoedad liked to put it: “It’s a shame we have to grow so old to know so much.”

  5. Shoebox
    Sep 20, 2009 @ 00:23:48

    The things we do as children.

    Yeah. ๐Ÿ˜›

    It has always struck me as singularly unfair that the price of these moments increases the more you grow out of them. Or, as Shoedad liked to put it: “It’s a shame we have to grow so old to know so much.”

  6. Trackback: Shoebox

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