Our 50th high school reunion finally arrived and I can’t tell you how relieved I am about the whole thing. Thinking back on my high-school years, I knew I would be ridiculed the instant I walked in, mocked for the failure I was then and the loser I’ve continued to be, while all the rest of my class flourished in universal adoration.
As it turns out, not so much.
Thankfully, nobody seemed to remember when one of the cool kids convinced David and me to go together to the homecoming dance because lots of girls went solo and we could find dates there. It goes without saying that we didn’t find any unattached females when we arrived, so we left very quickly for a hamburger with a side of regret. David didn’t show up at the reunion—clearly too embarrassed by our humiliation—but it turns out I was worried about nothing. No one mentioned it, so maybe it’s long forgotten and I can just keep this disaster a secret for another 50 years.
In fact, not many people seemed to remember me at all. A few recalled my name or where I lived and two people remembered something specific that we did during our high school years, but the rest mostly nodded as if we’d just boarded the same elevator. To be fair, I didn’t remember them either, or anything in particular that I did during those years. I know I had one math teacher who farted a lot during a tutoring session with me, we had to swim naked in gym class, and our sports teams made us much more stoic about the setbacks in life…but that’s about it.
I don’t know what I was expecting after fifty years, but the whole thing felt like a retirement dinner where everyone was the guest of honor. Maybe they were whooping it up in other corners of the room, but almost all I heard from people were stories about the career they left behind, the ailments they’d gained, the grandchildren they did—or didn’t—see regularly, and the fogginess of their memories about teachers, classes, and the four years we spent in a shared space.
And why not? We’re all a bunch of 70-somethings who moved on to have full lives between then and now, replacing teenage torment for the glories of adulthood.
On the upside, I met a few people I’d like to know better; not to rehash our distant pasts, but because they seem to be interesting people today. My life includes a constant search for enjoyable conversations, challenging ideas, and maybe a free lunch or two. Now that we’re all over this high school thing, maybe I should reach out to a few and make a connection.
Gee, I hope they like me. I hope they don’t think I’m weird or desperate or really, really needy. I hope they don’t reject me. What if they all just text each other with mean notes about what a loser I am? What if they’re still laughing at me when our 100-year reunion rolls around?
Ah, the joys of high-school. Like Hotel California, you can never leave.
Will I ever make friends with the cool kids? Will I be the laughingstock at my next reunion? Find out by clicking here to subscribe to our weekly lamentations.
So ya know what’s wrong with America today?
Okay, other than that.
And that other thing.
Hmm... Okay, I'll start over.
We don’t have enough celebrations in this country. Yeah, we have millions of holidays and observances and more mattress sales than you can count, but we don’t have any celebrations we can all share as one unified nation. You know, the kind of things the Founding Fathers loved, like barn raisings and burning witches.
Everything’s embroiled in politics now, so you can’t really celebrate anything with all your friends; only with the friends who agree with you about almost everything. And then they’ll spoil the whole party by ragging non-stop about the benighted souls who fell off the invitation list.
Nope, we need real celebrations where everyone’s on the same page, no politics allowed, and our team of party animals at Dad Writes has come up with the perfect list to bring joyful unity back to the United States. Mark your calendars and invite your friends as we cancel our Zoom calls and revel in the unbridled bliss of…
Rotgut Recycling: Somewhere in the back of the bar is a bottle, maybe two, that we will never, ever touch in our lives, until Rotgut Recycling Day on September 8. Maybe dad left some Slivovitz behind when he croaked, or some friend brought a bottle of Malort home from Chicago as a gag gift. Doesn’t matter. We’ll be competing for hair-on-your-chest cred on the 9th, if we all survive.
Freezer Burn Bakeoff. As long as we’re tempting fate, we’ll all dig into the back of the freezer on September 12 to pull out that thing that we don’t really recognize anymore…and eat it. It might be grandma’s lasagna or Uncle Sal’s chili, or something even worse, but we’re all going to have some fun stories to tell our friends on the 13th. If we all survive.
Coffee Cup Clearance: We’re almost certain to survive this one, or so we hope. On October 1, we’ll be grabbing all those coffee cups we don’t use…the World’s Best Lover and Flirtiest Mom and Ed’s Septic Service and Gina’s Getaway Lodge….and we’ll be donating them to charity. Finally, a cleaning project that’s tax deductible for all those $3,200 “limited edition” items.
Curio Collector’s Capitulation Day: It’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen, but mom said to hold on to it because it was a collector’s item and it would be really valuable someday. Well, it will be hugely valuable on October 15 when we finally give that porcelain figurine of Princess Di and Elvis the heave-ho. Of course, we’ll donate these babies to charity, as well, and take the full deduction of $25,000, just to show faith in mom’s forecast.
Tattered T-Shirt Toss. A special celebration for women only, we reserve November 4 as the date you get to throw out that ratty, smelly, stupid looking T-shirt that he still thinks has three more years to go. As a special bonus, feel free to dispose of that godawful sweater he insists on wearing to holiday parties. Truly, you’ll be doing him a favor and, in states that allow it, burning is encouraged.
Traced Turkey Transfer: Yes, we’ll all be arguing about politics on Thanksgiving, but older parents everywhere will take unbridled joy in the new tradition of bestowing, um, priceless gifts on their children. Before any adult children are allowed to have dinner, parents will complete transfer all the “turkeys” the kids drew by tracing their hands, the paper mache pumpkins, and other piece of claptrap from their childhoods. It won’t be much of a celebration for the kids, of course, but their parents’ happiness will more than compensate.
But wait, there’s more. While all of America is busily celebrating our new days of joy, our crack team of social directors is cooking up even more ways to celebrate in orgasmic synchronicity. Coming next…Computer Cable Macrame, D Battery Demolition, Dust Bunny Bacchanalia, and, for all the hip social media types, the National Grease Trap Challenge. Seriously, you’re going to love it.
Sadly, you’ll miss out on all our new celebrations and lead a sad, miserable, hopeless, desperate existence if you fail to click here to subscribe to Dad Writes.
I got on the elevator with a beautiful young woman who was sobbing and shaking. I asked her what was wrong and she told me, “I have ugly feet.”
I was confused by her comment. As my genetic wiring requires, I had checked her out as soon as I saw her and I noted that she was quite attractive. To be fair, my initial scan had not gone all the way to her feet, so I refocused my energies and, indeed, her feet looked normal.
I hadn’t really thought about what made feet beautiful or ugly, but I didn’t see any noses growing out of them or any extra toes.
Turns out, though, that she was a model and had just been rejected for an advertising gig with Dr. Scholl’s. Maybe the artistic director or the client thought her middle toe was too long or her big toe was too flat or something. Maybe her toenails wouldn’t be believable in the dramatic arc of the story. It all seemed trivial to me, but it was clearly devastating to her.
So I switched from voyeur to dad mode and tried to comfort her as much as you can on an elevator ride. I assured her that it was just one setback, that she would get other jobs, that any criticism was just one jerk’s opinion, and, of course, that her feet weren’t so monstrously grotesque that nobody would ever love her. JK on the last one, since I’ve (finally) learned not to apply humor in emotional moments.
The thing that struck me the most, and has continued to hang with me, is the way one flaw, real or imagined, could affect a person so much. In a business where your livelihood depends on your physical appearance, it’s understandable that a rejection can feel very personal. But I’ve seen the same thing with all kinds of people over the years, incredibly susceptible to criticism of one seemingly small facet.
Achilles had his heel, but it seems that all of us have something, some abnormally sensitive and vulnerable spot that overcomes all our other strengths. For some of us, it’s a body image thing and for others it’s tied up with a family history or an educational status or an epic fail in high school. Every so often, impostor syndrome makes us vulnerable as well.
Perversely, we make ourselves victims when we offer ourselves up to be judged by THEM. We base our self-esteem on THEIR assessment and we accept whatever THEY say as the truth. Our friend the foot model had to put herself at the mercy of other people in order to make a living, but most of us are driven solely by…what?
Maybe it’s part of the human condition to subvert our self-image in the interest of others’ judgments. Maybe we have an intrinsic need to be miserable about something. Maybe we’re all masochists at heart. Whatever the deep psychological source of our malady, Bob Newhart was right.
You may all carry on with your lives now. So glad I could help.
BTW, if you promise not to send us any pictures of your feet, you are permitted to click here to subscribe.
Please, dear Lord, save me from all those people who say their favorite thing about Chicago is deep dish pizza. It’s a step up from Malort, maybe, but there must be something better.
Kentucky has bourbon, Kansas City and New York both have strip steaks that bear their name, Buffalo has wings, Boston has cream pie…some places just hit the jackpot in the culinary karma competition.
And then there’s Chicago pizza, an overweight agglomeration of tomato sauce, cheese and dough. And dough. And dough. And dough.
Did I mention dough?
I actually like this stuff, but I don’t rank it among the best foods in Chicago, or even the best pizza. Most of the really great pizza places around here refuse to bury their toppings in a loaf of bread. It’s a local tradition the locals don’t indulge in all that much, except when friends and family come to town and ask for the “hometown” pizza.
Seriously, I miss the days when everybody talked about Al Capone.
Of course, it could be worse. We’re better off than Brussels, which is famous for a really gross and distasteful vegetable that people only like when you fry it with garlic and cheese and, sometimes, bacon. if you were the mayor of Brussels, would you want your reputation based on a gassy, bitter, irredeemable lump of leaves?
Even worse, it’s widely believed that “French” fries were actually invented in Belgium long before they started cooking them up in France. But, as with all great contributions to world culture, France has found a way to take credit and Brussels got stuck with tiny cabbage wannabes.
Fate is oh, so cruel.
At least Brussels is brave enough to take the hit for its gastric abomination. Peru has engaged in a hundred-years war to convince us we should mispronounce the Lima in lima beans. Respect, Peru, you’ve prevailed at last.
Back in Chicago, we really need to shift the narrative on our culinary heritage. We invented Cracker Jack, Juicy Fruit, Vienna hot dogs, Tootsie Rolls and even Twinkies, any one of which we could have branded with the home-town imprint…but didn’t.
And, greatest tragedy of all, we somehow called our greatest contribution to the dining world an “Italian” beef sandwich. Yeah, it was supposedly cooked up by Italian immigrants working at the Stockyards, but they were Italian immigrants IN CHICAGO.
Too late, I suppose. Once your nickname is Stumpy, you can’t get people to call you The Captain anymore, and once you’re tagged with deep dish pizza, it’s too late to talk about CHICAGO BEEF SANDWICHES.
At least we’re not Brussels.
Quick quiz there: what city has the best food associated with it? Let us know right after you click here to subscribe.
A few years ago, I made the mistake of making a few political donations, which is turning out to be one of my few regrets in life. Mark Twain was right about sausage and the law, but he should have included political campaigning in the mix.
At the time of my foolish involvement in “the process,” I ended up making donations to both Republicans and Democrats, plus a PAC or two, and now I am reaping the whirlwind as the 2022 political season ramps up. For some reason, all these politicians seem to be sharing their mailing lists with other politicians, so everyone from senator to dog catcher seems to think I’m their friend and one of their most loyal supporters and, with all due modesty, a true patriot who is the bedrock of our great nation.
Apparently, I am all that is standing in the way of Armageddon, economic catastrophe, and the banning of pumpkin spice latte in October. Or, more accurately, my checkbook and I are all that are preventing the destruction of our way of life. If and when we turn into a Banana Republic (dictatorship, not the store), I will be 100% responsible, because I did not respond BY MIDNIGHT!!!
As best I can tell, we are already under siege from illegal aliens who are trying to take the guns away from transgender students who are canceling the free speech of cable news hosts who are persecuted because they are trying to protect the rights of atheist militias that want to take a knee to protest Pikachu, or praise Hello Kitty. Or vice versa.
We’ve got trouble, my friends. This is a hellhole of a country, a disaster, a collapsing civilization, and the last, best hope for humanity. Millions of our fellow citizens are emigrating to Ukraine, where it’s safer, or Russia, where they have more freedoms, or Mexico, which is empty now all the Mexicans moved here to take our jobs and make us eat frijoles. Too bad you won’t be able to read this warning, because the censors at the government/social media will block this post.
And I want to help, so I keep checking these letters and e-mails for the next steps, other than sending money. (BY MIDNIGHT!!!) But there are no next steps, not for me and not for the people who desperately need my continuing support. I know they’re going to save America from all the evil threats, but how?
Sadly, I can’t find the answer in these letters. I know what they’re against, I know they need my donation—by midnight—but that’s it. I keep looking, but I can’t find any concrete action plans.
Yes, I know the world is complex and any action plan requires a long explanation, so it’s not easy to summarize these plans in one letter, even when the letter is eight pages long and single spaced. But if they can spend four paragraphs on their LOVE OF FAMILY and RULE OF LAW and LE DELUGE, they could give just a few details about their ACTUAL PLAN!!!
I guess I’ll just have to take it on faith that they have a plan to save America from the monsters who are trying to destroy us. I only hope I can get them their money fast enough (BY MIDNIGHT!!!) and avert catastrophe.
Failure is not an option here. The future of the nation is in my hands. Wish me luck.
Of course, I'd also like you to wish me more readership by subscribing here to Dad Writes. But you must respond BY MIDNIGHT!!!
If Facebook workers are Metamates, what does that make the grunts at SpaceX? And speaking of Elon Musk employees…
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.