So I’m at the gym, faux cross country skiing to nowhere and watching MSNBC to keep it from being even more tedious than it is. The talk show host introduces one of her panelists, who turns out to be a guy I went to high school with.
Super-impressive, clearly a thoughtful and knowledgeable person who has no doubt earned his nosebleed ascent through the ranks of business reporting, including stints at the two most important newspapers in the country (yes, newspapers are still important.)
But as I listen to his commentary on the economic recovery, such as it is, all I’m thinking is, That guy told his buddies that we did things together that we didn’t when I was a freshman and he was a sophomore.
Not “the” thing but the next obvious thing, one of several that you don’t want to be famous around your school for doing with a lot of guys.
Now, this is hardly a crime and not even emotionally damaging beyond maybe a day or two of embarrassment and adolescent outrage back in 1982. He was a nice guy back then (who probably wanted to appear a bit more studly than he was) and I’m sure still is. Until I saw him on TV I hadn’t thought of it since I read one of his articles years ago. Then, as now, I wished him nothing but continued success.
(My boyfriend, who went to our same high school but who I didn’t know back then, asked if I wanted him to kick this guy’s ass. I told him sure, but only after he gets me a job at the New York Times.)
My point is, these things are what we remember about people, even after they’ve gone on to do change the world in positive ways large and small. Scares the crap out of me to think what youthful transgressions people remember about me when they see something I’ve written or see me on TV. “Look at that! I went to grammar school with her! She was too scared to ask where the bathroom was on the first day of first grade and wet the seat.” (True story.)
A few other things come to mind, which I will refrain from listing here. I’m sure there are dozens of less-than-proud moments in my history that old friends or bunk mates remember that I’ve since blocked out. I’ve told a few of my own to my daughters (who are ten and going through that everything’s embarrassing phase) to show them that once survives these traumas, by and large (the obvious exceptions being when they escalate to full scale bullying, but I’m not talking about that.)
Thoughts? I invite you all to post your version of such stories, whether you were on the giving or the receiving end of the regrettable mistake. You’ll get closure, and you’ll make me feel better for having an elephant-like memory for only the mortifying stuff.