>> Thursday, January 03, 2013
Classmates.com sends me spam. I mostly ignore it. High school was a miserable time, it's remarkable I survived it at all, and the few people I care about from that era, I've mostly stayed in touch with one way or another. And there's quite a lot of people from that miserable, dark epoch whom, let's be honest, I don't want knowing me now; that is, the person they associate with my name is a dead stranger, long buried in forsaken ground, and I don't want to be associated with him.
So Classmates.com sends me spam, and I mostly ignore it. Sometimes there's a twinge of regret: Classmates.com is inspired by the fond memories many people seem to have about their teenage years. From my own recollections, I have to suspect most of these memories people think they have are illusions, fantasies, whitewashes of the collective misery that being a kid often entails even if you're a kid who was doing relatively alright psychologically and otherwise. Even if everything is working out for you, being a teenager means dealing with seemingly arbitrary rules as you go through repeated, mandatory exercises that you'll eventually discover are entirely irrelevant to nearly everything. Your ability to take a test will never be tested; you'll probably never write an essay unless you go into academe or become a writer, and then you'll discover nearly everything you were taught about writing essays in high school was wrong or inapplicable or simply not what any reader who isn't a high school teacher is looking for; most of that math will be useless unless you go into a mathy career, and, here again, it's likely you'll learn better, faster, smarter ways to do it all in college or beyond; nobody will ever, ever care what grade you got in gym; etc. And sillier still is the social melodrama that will become absolutely and utterly meaningless within seconds of graduation, when the entire caste system high school imposes completely disintegrates and you enter brave new worlds where you'll actually be judged by arcane things like "competence" and "personality" and "responsibility", etc. I've got to say that in retrospect the glory days that Classmates.com is meant to celebrate are really a complete waste of time even if you're one of the people who misses them, whom Classmates.com caters to. And yet the social convention that you're supposed to miss all this and I don't sometimes makes me feel regretful, alienated, at odds... actually, come to think about it, it mostly evokes the exact same emotions I felt at the time. Gee, thanks, thanks bunches.
But Classmates.com sends me spam, which I mostly ignore. Mostly. Today I get the spam excerpted above, and I have to tell you that while I have wiped many of my memories of that era away to such a degree I suspect a psychologist would find it clinically interesting, I really, for the life of me, do not remember a fellow student named MrbigloverLarry.
This actually shouldn't surprise me at all: although Classmates.com calls MrbigloverLarry a "peer", looking back at the part of the spam I redacted, I see that MrbigloverLarry C. actually was a couple of years ahead of me, and if he didn't go to the same junior high as I did, we might not have crossed paths at all. So this may not be a fault of my taking an imaginary meat tenderizer to my adolescent memories and pounding them into submission, but rather a false claim on the part of Classmates.com. He would have been called across the stage before I even started going to the high school it appears we both attended. I hardly knew ye, MrbigloverLarry--by which I mean I didn't know you at all--and I feel like it's my loss. I'm not sure where that name originates--French, perhaps, with that final syllable surely being pronounced something like "ehr", I guess--but no doubt you would have had any number of interesting things to say about the customs and traditions of your family's home country.
As for Scott P.: I think he would have been a senior when I started high school, and therefore might have crossed paths with MrbigloverLarry C. I knew many Scotts in high school, I think, including one who's one of the few I've stayed in touch with over the many intervening years while others I went to school with were forgotten. But the thing that draws one's attention, of course, is his profile picture, which consists of a kind of smiley face assembled out of three handguns and an array of what appears to be nine clips. I have to admit, this doesn't exactly convey to me that Scott P. is anyone I want to stay in touch with. I hope this doesn't sound like a typical pansy liberal intellectual-type's prejudice against guns or whatever; it's just that when the very first thing you want everybody in the world to know about you or associate you with is the three pistols and relatively copious amounts of ammunition you may or may not be carrying around, well... it doesn't instill confidence, much less bravery. A perfectly reasonable profile pic of yourself wearing camouflage and an orange vest while sporting a rifle would convey that you are a hunter, that you like hunting and being outdoors and shooting things, and one can hardly object to that unless you're out of season without a license, or you're hunting castaways on your foreboding private isle o'mystery; for that matter, a profile pic showing you at the range with your goggles and pistol is hardly objectionable even if I have reservations about the utility of hobbyist target shooting. And needless to say, a photograph of yourself armed in civilian or military uniform, as a law enforcement officer or soldier, seems completely unobjectionable as well.
But a smiley face of small arms... I have to confess, Mr. P., this doesn't conjure up associations with healthy outdoorsmanship, lawful hobbying, or service; it rather suggests somebody in his basement lasciviously stroking his chrome and hoping somebody breaks in soon or for the abrupt collapse of Western civilization if he's really, really lucky. Zombies or graboids might be beyond all realistic hope, but a man can dream. Actually, lasciviously keeping one's gun porn in the basement is a best case imagining; one also readily imagines Mr. Smiley Face strapping on his bulletproof vest and strolling down to the local multiplex or schoolyard, sorry.
In short, thus, we have someone I never knew but might have liked to, and someone I could have known but would rather keep out of range of. I don't believe I'll be responding further to the request; these peers of mine are strangers, or ought to be.