You know what else is cool about me?
My ability to drive in the snow. I don’t know what it is, but I get in a very Zen state where the car and I become one. I’m responsive, but not reactive. I’m focused, but relaxed. Most people drive like timid contestants on Wipeout, just waiting for some giant swinging wrecking ball to broadside them and send them barrel rolling into oncoming traffic. Let the road tell you what it needs, and respond accordingly. Nothing more, nothing less. Driving in the snow is easy if you let it be.
I could go on like this, and the above is all true, by the way, but I won’t because it’s not terribly interesting on its own. I’m more interested in examining my lead.
The first sentence of this piece is something I said without a trace of irony or self-awareness to my best friend Jason during my senior year of high school. I don’t even remember what else was cool about me which answered that question, (maybe it was my uncanny ability to look like a huge d-bag like in that picture above, taken, yes, senior year of high school) but I definitely remember starting a sentence that way (partially because Jason will bring it up to bust my balls 13 years later). What could possess someone to say something so (on its face) startlingly arrogant? I don’t know, let’s find out.
Before my junior year of high school, I moved to Texas. I have but only a few fond memories from my time there. I had my two best friends, Stephen and Ashley, who, oddly enough, were not really friends with each other. I adore them to this day. I attended Ashley’s wedding a few years ago in North Carolina, and Stephen and I were in each other’s wedding parties. I cultivated a deep love of Taco Bell. I began my training to become better at something than anyone else on earth. I saw the Mad Caddies in concert with Mustard Plug. And it was the first time I decided I didn’t want to be fat anymore.
I remember one morning before school opening this drawer, and there’s just a sea of snack cake boxes and cookies and all sorts of shit that just made me feel disgustingly like the dorky fat kid. I asked my mom to please return all the unopened boxes to the store, and that I didn’t want stuff like that in the house anymore. I started working out every day, I ate more protein and less carbs, and thanks to the insufferable Texas heat, I dropped 20 lbs. in about 4 months, and then we moved back to Golden.
With a new svelte physique, a spiky haircut I finally understood how to style properly, the inherent bravado and joy of just being a senior in high school, and a happiness like I’d never felt thanks to escaping the alien universe that is The Truman Show-esque existence of living in that North Houston suburb, and fresh perspective on my hometown I never appreciated, I walked back into my high school for senior year a new man.
Everyone, it seemed, was happy to see me. This was quite the turn of events since when I left one year earlier, I (rightly or wrongly) felt like no one gave a shit except for my friend Mike, who was leaving for California to start college anyway. I didn’t have any goodbye parties, and I felt like no one noticed. It was lonely.
So to see everyone get jazzed up when I told them I was back was fucking invigorating. I was way more popular than when I left. It helped that I lied to my friends and told them I had drank alcohol before (I hadn’t, not on purpose anyway, but I had accidentally participated in a toast at my uncle’s wedding with a vodka tonic I picked up by mistake), and we all got shitfaced before the homecoming football game. Getting euphoric drunk for the first time and getting reacquainted with all of your classmates you didn’t realize you missed was the greatest – brace for hokey wordplay – homecoming anyone could ever hope for.
And it only got better from there. I got back into acting, and during what ended up being an excruciating rendition of The Diary of Anne Frank (truly awful, just, wow), I met Jason and the two of us fucked around offstage the whole time.
Hot underclassmen girls wanted my senior action. I only applied to one college since I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and got in by Christmas. I qualified for state in the 100m butterfly, which is pretty much the only swimming goal I set for myself when I started freshman year. The WWE was absolutely fucking KILLING it on TV every week, and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed professional wrestling more than I did between January of 2000 and April of 2001, nor was it ever more socially acceptable to enjoy. Swimming everyday along with lifting weights three times per week put me in the best shape of my life.
So you wanna know what else was cool about me? Fuck, what else is there?
My friends and I were fucking hilarious. We were popular, but didn’t give a shit. I walked in several different social cliques. After the brutality of the Texas AP program (which is remarkably difficult, and ultimately prepared my ass for college, which I cannot say for the rest of my Colorado schooling), school was a breeze. I went to Spain and had girls fawning all over my blond hair (which was exceedingly rare where I was). I made out with random Spanish chicks. I defied the quiet disapproval of my parents and wore my hat backwards. Punk rock was popular and all over the radio, and I liked it and saw a ton of shows.
My life at that point was a TV show that had been building story arcs all season, found out it was getting cancelled, and in a last ditch effort to boost ratings, paid them all off at once and tried to send everything out on a high note. At the time I didn’t know that and spent way too much time concerned with inconsequential shifts in relationship dynamics, but ultimately that was for the best.
In the movie Pirate Radio, Philip Seymour Hoffman says, “You know, a few months ago, I made a terrible mistake. I realized something, and instead of crushing the thought the moment it came, I… I let it hang on, and now I know it to be true. And I’m afraid it’s stuck in my head forever. These are the best days of our lives. It’s a terrible thing to know, but I know it.”
I didn’t know it at the time, thank God, but senior year of high school were some of the greatest days of my life. Awareness of how your life stacks up against other segments of it good or bad is pretty much never a good thing. So it is with some curiosity and a whole shitload of uncertainty that I think about where I sit today.
You know what else is cool about me?
This article continues on Friday…