There's this kid I used to know back in high school. His name was Carlos. Nice guy. I wouldn't have called us best friends, but as high school slackers are sometimes prone to do -- that being indiscriminately flock to each other -- we didn't give a second thought to hanging out in the same group on occasion. We'd have a couple of beers, which at that time still carried the unmistakably great taste of both novelty and parental prohibition; We'd steal parking meters from the lots along Miami Beach; We'd go to Fire & Ice, which at that time was the only decent alternative club in Miami. We'd wait in line all night for concert tickets when the band was worth it; We'd make fun of, well, everybody; We'd generally revel in the complete lack of any discernable responsibility other than to simply "show up" to life.
I'll never deny that those were damn good times.
At my ten year high school reunion, I ran into Carlos again, gave him a hug and tried not to spill my drink on him. He told me he was working for his father's home tiling business -- which as far as I was concerned was a far more noble vocational endeavor than what seemed to be the stand-by/fall-back profession of most male members of my graduating class: Hialeah or City of Miami cop. A few minutes of down time with the student body of Pace High School's class of '87 and you'd understand that these miscreants should barely be on this side of prison bars themselves, much less be handed a Glock and the badge that allows them to use it. I'm sure the notion of that hair-trigger weapon at their side, free meals at Denny's, a steady paycheck and the opportunity to harass black people with impunity won many a former delinquent over to the side of law and order.
Carlos and I did the nostalgia thing for a few minutes, and then he said something that I didn't quite understand because it seemed apropos of nothing.
"You know, our football team is really great this year."
I stood there for a moment, sure that the look of utter bemusement on my face would carry enough insult to drive him away in disgust. What the hell was he talking about? The Dolphins? That was impossible, seeing as how I had distinctly heard him use the words "really great," and not "fucking suck like no team has ever sucked before." I don't remember him going to UM with me, but I guess that as a lot of folks in Miami do, he could very well have adpoted them as his own and formed enough of a personal relationship with them in his mind that he saw nothing wrong with using a personal pronoun.
And then it hit me; he was talking about OUR team. Our school's team. Our high school football team. Our CURRENT high school football team.
"Uh, really? You still follow Pace football?" I said.
"Yeah man, we've got a great quarterback this year. Dude, Remember Javier? He's the assistant coach these days."
"That's --" oh dear fucking God think of something decent and cordial "-- really great. Glad to hear that. I'm gonna go to the bar... and stay there."
Almost ten years later, as I approach my twenty year reunion, my point is this: I have no burning desire to hear from Carlos ever again. I didn't really feel much of a yearning to in the time before that ten year watermark. I feel the same way about most people from my distant past. There are a select few I've lost contact with that wish I hadn't, but for the most part those I wanted to remain close to, I have. I've kept in touch the way millions have for years -- through personal contact, the telephone, and more recently, e-mail.
If I haven't seen you in a very long time, chances are there's a good reason for it.
Another symbol of high school that I never felt the need to relive at any point in my adulthood, was the adolescent rite of passage that came with the signing of yearbooks. Yes, I get it. BFF and all that shit. Remember when, and let's hope we never lose touch. The way I decorate my yearbook and personalize it tells the world just who I am. It's a form of artistic expression!
Sure thing Da Vinci.
But now as it turns out, this late in my life, the two main benefits I had hoped to reap from growing up -- ignoring my past and doing away with teenage fucking idiocy -- have been put asunder in one fell swoop and in high-tech fashion, all by a guy I've never met. His name is Tom.
Tom wants to be my friend. He wants to be your friend. He wants to be the world's friend. So far he seems to be succeeding. 72 million people and counting have taken him up on his seemingly innocuous Mister-Rogers-cum-Weezer-fan offer. I however believe that Tom's true identity and mission have yet to be revealed. Simply put, he is Satan, the Prince of Darkness -- and he intends to enslave all mankind.
He's doing it via the use of his insidious creation -- the most cunning and nefarious invention to come to prominence in the early days of the 21st century: MySpace.
In deference to the three people who don't currently inhabit a "virtual apartment" on MySpace.com -- it's essentially a place on-line where you can instantly have access to all those people you do your best to ignore or forget about every day. It's where millions flaunt their individuality by going to the same website. It's where teens try and pick up teens; adults try and pick up teens; and bands try and get teens to buy their crappy music. It's where you can debate the great moral and social issues of our time, like who was better, Biggie or Tupac. First and foremost though, it's where you can gather "friends" like fucking Pokemon cards; Tom -- he of the goofy smile and aw-shucks persona -- being the first new friend to say "Howdy!"
Over the last couple of months, the site has come under fire not for its very existence -- which I think is a mortal sin in and of itself -- but for the way some are using it; It's a veritable on-line petting zoo for pedophiles. Just last week a story broke about a 16 year old Michigan girl who met a West Bank man on MySpace, then lied to her parents to get a passport which allowed her to fly to the Middle-East to meet him. I won't even get into how goddamned clueless two adults have to be to let themselves be outfoxed by someone who more than likely dots her "I"s with hearts and speaks in teen cellphone text code. A wiley one that kid. Either way, this is just the latest bad publicity for MySpace, but this is America and I'm not one to blame Tom for the way some have chosen to abuse this great power he's given them. You can't blame Albert Einstein for Harry Truman's itchy trigger finger and love of the warm glow of mushroom clouds.
No, I actually think MySpace's far more insipid transgression is its knack for turning scores of otherwise normal adults with jobs, responsibilities, families -- LIVES -- into the idiot kids you used to hate in high school for wasting so much time and effort putting together what they truly believed would be their ultimate legacy: their "Slam Books." MySpace isn't destroying our kids. They're allowed to be stupid -- they're young and don't know any better. It's destroying our adults, by turning them back INTO kids.
Now I know what you're thinking, "But come on, it's just a little fun -- and it's a great way to hook up with old friends."
I promise you that this will be the last thing you think just before Tom flips the switch and sends the subliminal signal through the broadband and phone lines, ordering you to put on your Silver Shamrock halloween masks and watch the computer monitor... WATCH. WATCH CLOSELY.
Besides, think for a minute about how you react to the guy who wanders around the party trying to cozy up to everybody and be his or her friend. That's the guy you usually want to punch in the fucking face, right? Now multiply that party by the population of the entire planet.
Fuck MySpace, and while I'm at it -- fuck Pace Football. Grow up and get a goddamned life Carlos.