I’d like to take a minute to tell you a story in the long string of heart-warming online tales that illustrates the power of the internet to connect people who have been estranged for decades. It also illustrates the power of music, and the power of a certain kind of mental pathology, too. You’ll see what I mean.
One of my cohorts from Iron Horse received an out-of-the-blue message on Facebook yesterday, at 1:30 in the morning, from someone he didn’t know, that said, “Are you [misspelled his last name] from [our high school]? I remember you; we wrote a song in detention.’ He named the song, and correctly wrote out the chorus. No, I’m not going to quote it here, because then it would be searchable, but he totally nailed it.
His profile was private, there was no picture, and he had a very unusual first name, but my friend didn’t recognize him in any way. He had eleven online friends, all of whom shared his surname. My friend responded, “Yeah, that was me. I kinda remember writing that in detention. . .I changed the lyrics around, and my old band used to play that song. Do you have a picture or something to jump-start my memory? What years were you at [our high school]?”
The guy wrote back that he moved away from Yakima in 1987, and that he’s living in California now. He’s of a certain nationality, and “try to get sum pic’s.” (I took the liberty of cleaning up his grammar and punctuation before, but it was all typed lower-case, with slightly awkward punctuation.) My friend accepted his friend request, and we’ll see where the story goes from here. The two of us can’t help but wonder what the guy’s life is like, since he’s writing to someone he met only one time, in high school detention, twenty two years ago (!), and seems to be hoping to rekindle a friendship where it left off. I mean, sure, my friend is a great guy, and we were a pretty good band, but this guy doesn’t even know about the band, because he left town before my friend and I even started it. Oh, AND. I should mention that my friend was neither a miscreant nor a ne’er-do-well (I love those two terms, and I love it when I get the opportunity to use them), he was only in detention that one day, and never saw this guy ever again. He’s not anyone I knew, either then or now, but I haven’t been able to find my yearbooks to investigate him.
Incidentally, speaking of the band, the community access TV station still plays our videos to this day, which completely mystifies my friend and me. These are not new videos I’m referring to, either. They were filmed and originally aired during that same time period, from 1987 to ’89, which is when the band was in existence. We were just a bunch of high school kids, playing some songs that we wrote ourselves, and I can’t imagine why anyone watching now would even enjoy the songs these days, let alone find a bunch of kids from twenty years ago compelling.
Be all that as at may, I admit that it’s gratifying (in a weird way) that they do still play that stuff. We had a good time making the videos, and like I said, we were a pretty decent band, but we had no delusions about our abilities or chances for stardom, either. We were just a bunch of kids who had a band, like a million other kids in a million other bands.
Just for fun, here’s a picture from our very first show. In fact, it could well be of the song in question, too, because I just now remembered that I actually sang the whole second verse of it (and I didn’t sing lead very often), so it seems very likely that this picture was taken during that song.
I just love the oversize mirrored sunglasses, and you can see that I was working hard on Mullet Number One as well. Gee, I wonder if this was the 80′s?
Meanwhile, back to the topic at hand.
In the interest of full disclosure, and the interest of fairness to this guy, I’ve spent the better part of this month reconnecting with friends from years ago, one of whom had also been twenty years ago (she reads this blog, too, by the way), and it’s been really great for everyone involved. You probably already knew that if you’re reading this, though, since I’ve written a bit about it lately. More than once but fewer than three times, in fact, just in case you were counting. So I have no business knocking the guy for trying. As human beings, we all are basically social animals (some of us more than others) who are looking for connections wherever we can find them. But the people I’m talking with are people with whom I had actual relationships and friendships. They’re based on more than just a one-time meeting, in detention, more than half a lifetime ago.
The title of this entry, incidentally, comes from a book that our high school’s choir director had on the bookshelf in his office, and it seemed apropos to use it here. Iron Horse shortened it to ‘Mental Game’ and we used it as the title of our album. I mean cassette. Oh, how dearly I wish I had a copy of that. I have a lot of old videos, and tapes, and pictures, and notebooks, but I’m not sure I have that cassette cover floating around anywhere. I’ll have to do some digging.
I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.