Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/23/dont-look-up-childhood-frien.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/23/dont-look-up-childhood-frien.html
Oof - so from K-7th I lived in small town of 4000 people. From 3rd for 4th Grade until I left, my best friend was a new kid “Jimmy”. He wasn’t the brightest academically, but he was gifted with an advanced sense of balance and hand eye coordination as well as gifted at the art of violin and later trumpet. I was the opposite, thus our nicknames “empty” and “clutz”. Hell I couldn’t even figure out WTF the “beat” was.
Anyway, as you may know, those “middle” years are fairly formative in a person’s life and we had a pretty close bond, which unfortunately went away after I had to move in the middle of my 7th grade year.
Well I ended up going to the HS reunion of that school, as it was nice to catch up with old school friends, see my old church, and check out the old lake and down town area. Even went by Mrs. French old house which we rode bikes down her ginormous sloping driveway.
While there, after a few beers, I got to talking to our mutual friend, “Dave”. Dave ended up marrying and divorcing Jimmy’s little sister. And during the relationship he found out Jimmy abused her for years. Most likely while I still knew him. Talk about ruining your childhood
I’ve refrained from googling my old childhood friends, but out of morbid curiosity I looked up my old childhood bully, the guy who would literally steal my lunch money, beat me up daily, and made my elementary school days hell. I was unsurprised to see that he’d committed several felonies and is serving a 20 year stint.
Oh Boy! I’ve have a few stories on that topic, not good folks, not good at all.
It wasn’t a big secret for me; I still live in the same neighborhood, and so did C, and he occasionally invited me to walk with him went he went to the corner store for a sub and/or beer. So it was no secret to me that he had turned into a bigoted addict Trumper. What did catch me unawares was last spring after a long period without him inviting me for a walk where I assumed he was sleeping on someone’s couch in another town closer to whatever job he had at the time, a neighbor mentioned he’d overdosed in the fall.
Blimey. Life, eh?
A really well written story. If you haven’t you should read it in full. sad. but so well written.
My elementary school’s resident sociopath, who didn’t pick on me (or steal my stuff) because his mother and mine did a school related activity together (but who did “steal” a childhood friend because of a shared junior-high-school love of weed), eventually ended up in Juvenile Hall.
From which he and another inmate escaped, fled down south, and killed a couple who’d given them a lift.
He got life, in a Louisiana prison.
I know it’s pithy, but with a metal detector the author could find that buried treasure tin in about 15 mins flat. What story did Petey put in there?
This is an excellent story, if a bit sad, but it does a great job making you think about others that you have known in life in a different context.
In a nebish, selfish sort of way, I’d obsess over that buried box until I just bought a metal detector and found it.
This is a heartbreaker. I’ve usually been lucky in looking up old friends. They all came out alright, for the most part. A bully that harassed me in my junior year ended up being a small-town, former-jock Fox News enthusiast who has gotten arrested several times. Sounds about right.
After my parents divorced, when I was about 9, my mom moved towns, and I switched schools to the new town. Being just out of second grade, I didn’t maintain any friendships from my old school, but did retain a friendship with a kid down the street who went to parochial school. He was my only friend when I would visit my dad (almost exactly half the time, in all sincerity, good job parents/divorce mediators!) and was still what I consider to be the best friend I’ve ever had. We would make cartoons, walk around the neighborhood trying to get lost for hours. He was honest, kind, smart, funny, fast, strong, responsible. He was really the brother I never had.
I’ve written about him in other threads, actually. His family were fishermen, and lived rough and were very…conservative. Our relationship spanned a time before that mattered, and the family were always nice to me. As I got into high school and started smoking weed and coming out of my shell, dating-wise, it strained our relationship. He had always worked jobs, and worked a lot in high school and we drifted apart. The last time I saw him in a Dominoes parking lot I was too high to handle the reunion and said something about catching up then drove away.
It’s the most torn I’ve been about reaching out to somebody. It would be a miracle if he weren’t a Trump voter, given his family’s cringe-worthy views that I overheard on the fringes of our friendship and only processed later. I feel very bougie thinking that I don’t want to “spoil the golden memories” by reconnecting, but that is pretty much where I’ve landed with it. I’d love it if his crystal clear integrity from those times somehow would transcend what would certainly be vast political differences now.
Of course, I’m also just lazy at friendships, and barely talk to anyone who isn’t in front of me day-to-day, so I’m probably just romanticizing my own weaknesses.
Funny how people who are violent, cruel sociopaths in 5th grade grow up to be violent, cruel sociopaths rather than bookish grad student nerds.
I had a relatively idyllic childhood, i don’t keep tabs on everyone i grew up with because i’m bad at managing relationships and have social anxiety but a good portion of my close childhood friends have done pretty well for themselves thankfully. My next door neighbor and one of my best friends, he did pass away about 10 years ago in a car accident. I don’t know the details but i would guess that it’s likely that he caused it as he and his family were known for driving a bit too fast and a bit recklessly. I reached out to his older brother at the time, apologizing for drifting away from their lives when they tried really hard to stay in touch with me. He never replied, likely he was mourning his brother’s passing but i still feel terribly guilty for my proclivity at hiding from social interactions from them. He’s currently doing quite well and lives in Ireland and has traveled the world, i’m very happy for him and would love to meet up but i’m not sure how well i could handle such a meeting emotionally.
I’ve generally been the bearer of bad news about other people’s childhood friends. I’m the one who had to tell everyone that my brother had overdosed.
Among my own friends, the worst example I’ve found is the one guy who is heavily into some kind of MLM.
“Some writers used to drink when the words didn’t come. Now we have the internet.”
This brought Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe to mind. This is an idea whose time may have arrived. Perhaps we should be teaching old homeless drunks to surf Web for their salvation at the local AA or library.
The younger two of the childhood friends were pregnant by 16 and waiting tables.
At least one older Girl Scout trooper/classmate has worked in two White House admins, neither of them Trump’s. The male friends have uniformly done well, albeit out of uniform.
There was a local troublemaker in my orbit throughout junior high and high school. From the wrong side of the tracks (to the extent Iowa has those), and I’m sure his home life was pure chaos. He was also unusually short, so he walked with his chin held way up, and constantly harassed people larger than him into various confrontations. Which is too bad, because in certain situations he was a really bright and creative guy. Away from his pack, he could even be friendly.
But I was not surprised when a few years ago I received word he’d been killed in a car wreck. Rolled his pickup while speeding down a country road, or some such. Probably drunk, I figured then and still do.
Later, though, I Googled him and was surprised to find his name in DOJ/FBI documents concerning Operation Ice Pirates. At the time of the accident he was under active surveillance as a key conspirator, and whether he knew it or not the net was closing around him.
All the childhood friends that I have some degree of contact with seem to have turned out OK. The worst one really is the guy who turned out to be a libertarian, conspiracy-theory believing (chemtrails, OMG!) Trump supporter.
From time to time I do wonder about the pair of brothers who were in my mixed 4th/5th-grade class who were pathological liars. While 10-year-old me thought they were just lucky kids who had incredibly awesome experiences in their lives, I later had the epiphany that they were most likely pathological liars. (This after other run-ins with that type over the years. For a while I suspected they were drawn to me somehow.) Anyhow, better to leave some stones unturned, right?
About 15 years ago, I got nostalgic and looked up people from my past. They all were doing okay, I didn’t find any child abusers or murder victims. Instead, seeing myself reflected in their reminiscences, I found that I had been a smaller, meaner person than I would ever have thought possible.
That cured my nostalgia. Since then I’ve been making an effort to be a better human and to look forward and not back.
At one point I was fairly sure that one of my highschool friends had been murdered in a spree killing targeting cross dressing prostitutes. They didn’t exactly have a common name, and there was a brief story the victim’s life where all the details matched up until the point I lost contact with them.
Then about five years later I ran into them at a concert, which was surreal. I had a brief moment where I almost said, “Wow, I thought you had been murdered by a homophobe while working as a cross-dressed prostitute,” but I elected not to.