I am not the kind of guy that moves into the latest technology easily. I didn’t want an answering machine, someone bought me one. I didn’t want to own a cell phone, and someone bought me one. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t wish to be Ted Kaczynski. I’m not anti-technology; I’m just really bad at understanding a lot of these gadgets. I don’t find any Indie cred in being without these items.
So, in April of 2009, my brother created an account for me on Facebook. All I have to do is sign-in and add an occasional picture. I refused to do the Myspace thing, I’ve looked at the pages before, and it all looks like one big cluster-fuck. Not my thing, but Facebook has a definite school feel to it. Like hanging out in front of your locker between classes. Somebody shoots you a one-liner, posts a picture of their drunken weekend, very comfortable, very school-like.
But in the weird part of this is, in the few months since I started Facebookin’ I’ve accumulated about seventy “friends.” How did this happen? I don’t know if I had more than seven friends in my whole life!
Anyway, on the plus side, people I’ve forgotten about have contacted me. I’ve written a lot about my life in the ‘80’s, and the punk scene then. Well, it was a tough time. From 1978 to 1984 (when I graduated High School), I went to five or six different schools. This wasn’t always easy. Each time you come in the “new guy” and you have to prove yourself. You have to find your character, are you the tough guy, funny guy, loner? I think I’ve been all of them.
I went to a private school for seventh grade in Calabasas (with pro skater Bert LaMar), then eighth grade at a public school in Canoga Park (with Linda “Ziggy” Daniels), and then I went to another public school, for ninth grade, this one in Van Nuys. The problem with this one was that the prior school lost my records, so I got placed into eighth grade AGAIN, and because I had a slight hearing impairment, I was placed into classes for the deaf. So, like they say: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Within a short time I learned sign language, and tutored the deaf and hard of hearing kids. And brown-nosed the principal until I was moved into the ninth grade, and eventually classes with hearing kids.
My time in the DHH classes was an incredible experience for me. It gave me insight into the lives of kids that in my junior high arrogance, I would’ve dismissed as fucked-up and ignored them.
During this time I met a guy named Wayne. Wayne was deaf, had cerebral palsy, and was racked with vision problems. Poor dude was a mess.
Wayne was bright as hell, but he needed a tutor because he had a hard time reading, because as he would concentrate his head would fall to the side. I would help him focus or read to him while signing. During this time I discovered him to be one witty guy. We’d be talking and he’d tell me, “Watch this,” then he’d yell at another deaf kid. The kid, of course, wouldn’t turn around. Wayne would shake his head, and say “deaf asshole.” It was funny. Wayne would get the comedy in this.
When I got into High School, Wayne was a year behind me. But I still found a way to at least say “Hi” once a day to him. When I graduated in 1984, I didn’t see him around anywhere; my life became a life full of broads and bullshit. And I didn’t look up anyone from those years.
In 1986 I took a job at Musicland in the Northridge Mall. The above-mentioned broad I was with thought Musicland was much more prestigious than my earlier fast-food flirtations.
One weekend afternoon, my prick of a boss (his name was Ed) had me standing in front of the store, forcing sales brochures into everyone’s hands as they tried to avoid me and walk into the store.
This particular afternoon, I look out onto the Mall floor, and who is circling the court out in front of Sears? My old friend Wayne. He does a couple of circles before he looks up and sees me with the previously mentioned shit flyers, and he b-lines towards the beloved Musicland and me. He starts chatting up a storm, and I had to put down the sales brochures in order to do sign language with him. Well, my boss looks over, and I’m chatting with a kid that is drawing looks from all the customers, and I’m not passing out his precious flyers. The boss yells at me to wrap it up. So, I explain to Wayne, quickly, that I have to go. Then I split, sent into the back to work in the stockroom.
Background on Wayne, he was abandoned at a hospital as an infant. Later, sent to an orphanage. His two future parents were doctors in the medical ward of said orphanage. After some time, they adopted him.
I told you all that, to tell you this: fast forward twenty-three years later. I’m on Facebook one day, and I received a “friend request” from Wayne. I’m stoked; I always wondered where he ended up. I accept his request, and later that night we’re online chatting. He is now repairing computers for a living; I have two kids, etc.
At a pause in the conversation I mention, the last time I saw him was at the mall in 1986. To which he replies:
“Yeah, I remember, I was talking to you and you turned your back on me and walked away. I went home and prayed that you would open your heart to me and be my friend again.”
Upon reading this (on the Facebook chat box) I felt my heart sink, and had to check to see if I shit myself. So, here it is – for almost a quarter of a century I thought we were cool. And here’s Wayne thinking I punked him, and not in the Ashton Kutcher way.
I quickly explained that I said goodbye (at the store in the mall), and that my punk-ass boss called me away, as I was at work.
His reply was, “It’s cool, we’re friends again.” I’m not sure if he believed me, but it kicked me in the nuts. I’ve dogged people out in my life, but I figured this dude had enough shit in his life, and I wasn’t going to add to his pile.
Since then, I’ve been emailing him at least once a day since he found me on Facebook.
– Last One To Die, 2011