It was a blue rainy Sunday and ordinarily I’d be feeling slightly depressed because the rain has always been the soundtrack to my sadness, but I wasn’t depressed at all because TWIKARA was coming over in the afternoon and there was absolutely nothing to be depressed about. And I can’t even tell you how one thing led to another, but I wound up looking at my sixth-grade autograph album, which, according to my distressing calculations, has to be more than 40 years old.
The first few pages were filled with black & white pictures of my school, the pledge of allegiance, names of teachers and also something called My Favorites, which included:
Chum: Mark Bogen
Athlete: Lew Alcindor
Book: Of Mice and Men
Song: Hello Goodbye
Motto: Silence is golden, so shut up!
Hey, whaddya want? I was 12! The rest of the book was dedicated to what reads like a cross between Emily Dickinson wannabes and a retarded Dean Martin roast. Each kid in my class had an entire page to wish me luck in junior high or recall a fond memory, but most took the low road and wrote something stupid in it like, “Remember Grant, remember Lee, the heck with them, remember me!” They would then fold the page diagonally in half and you weren’t supposed to open it again until “toilet bowls,” “soda pops,” “bed spreads” or, my personal fave, “bacon strips.”
Some entries were exactly what you’d expect from a 12-year-old:
When you’re old and your shirts are all purple,
Remember me who wrote in a circle.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
When you get old and have 49,
Call your first Frankenstein.
Some were surprisingly profound (and most likely, cribbed from somewhere else):
It takes half of our lives to learn who are friends are, and the other half to keep them.
Count your blessings real fast,
Because your sins are coming up the track.
Chicken when you’re hungry,
Water when you’re dry,
A nice gal when you’re twenty,
Heaven when you die.
Some were prophetic:
When you’re old and out of shape,
You’re in big trouble.
2 in a car,
2 little kisses,
2 weeks later,
Mr. and Mrs.
When you fall in a river,
There is a boat.
When you fall in a well,
There is a rope.
When you fall in love,
There is no hope.
And finally, there was one from my mom:
There’ve been worries and joys through the years,
There were times of laughter and times of tears.
You’ve grown to be tall and strong,
Learning each day, right from wrong.
You’re honest and true, bright and kind,
You can feel with your heart as well as your mind.
The milestone you’re passing is just the beginning,
To the battles ahead I know you’ll be winning.
And with this first battle won,
I’m proud to say, you’re my son.
I never thought I’d be crying when bacon finally stripped.