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Rates of Exchange

By dchurchwell All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Humor

Rates of Exchange

“What’s the point of this anyway?” I said to myself. “This is practically cyber-stalking. You get that don’t you?” I questioned myself rhetorically. Knowing and understanding that it had been 18 years since Heidi and I had last spoken, let alone been in the same room together, wasn’t exactly the same thing as accepting the fact with grace and dignity. I continued my Google search of public records, phone listings, and the alumni websites for both Colorado and Germany. I know she existed.

Having seen her listed as “a friend of a friend” on the “Connections” page of the Bertram G. Goodhue High School graduate page, Class of 93, I was certain she wasn’t just a bout of wishful thinking on my part.  Admittedly I have acted in a forward manner a few times in my life, to mixed reviews, and I now felt that before I attempt to pursue any lines renewed communication, I should be armed with a bit of “Back Story.” For instance, had Heidi returned to her hometown of Bochum immediately upon arrival back in Germany, and if so did she go through a second graduation ceremony back at her regular hometown High School, and if so was it as big a drag as ours had been? I know that somewhere in the back of my mind I had already considered these questions 18 years ago and that somehow they were left unanswered.

Other questions returned as well. For instance, did we actually have a relationship back in those days? Would Heidi describe it as a friendship or, worse yet, an acquaintance?  Could she now, even remember those times?

I had always suspicioned that Heidelinde “Heidi” Habermeir really liked my best friend Greg rather than me. Firstly because he frankly had a teenage “Aryan” look about him which a lot of the girls in school were attracted to. Secondly he wasn’t the slightest bit conscious of his appeal which left some girls, mostly cheerleaders and the elite populars, with the impression that he was gay. I rather assumed that being “European” Heidi would have a more continental view of sex and not be put-off if Greg turned out to be a homo. Maybe that was it. Perhaps she felt safe around him because he wasn’t always asking her out, as so many of the jocks, who might have taken a semester or two of German, often would. Strangely I began to hope that the gay thing was the right answer.

She and Greg had a few classes together but they were not the same ones I shared with him, and as he and I had different lunch periods, I was always walking into the cafeteria as he and Heidi where walking out. Best friend or not, gay or not, I was becoming jealous of all his preeminent advantages.

“Were you listening a few minutes ago when I mentioned Stalking?” I confronted myself. Between clicks of dead-end search results, I have become both boorish and obsessive.

“Why on earth would Heidi remember you after all this time?” I asked me. Obviously she would be memorable to most of our graduating class. She was, after all, the only exchange student at Goodhue High that year and the first one we‘d had in a decade or more. Then there was her accent. She could have been a chimp or a muppet with that voice and it wouldn’t have mattered at all. Americans are so hung-up on accents. But Heidi was no ordinary primate. Blonde, blue-eyed, beautiful. On the other hand I was only one of the 167 guys in a graduating class of 349. Let’s face it, in the town of Westminster, Colorado circa 1993 Billy Lyndon did not stand out from the crowd.

“What are you talking about? You’re making me out to be some kind of Schlub!” I complained. Not liking the look of where this was headed, I grab my senior yearbook, which had come out of mothballs last week when Patty Smith, from Sophomore Biology, sent me a “Connections” request on the Class of 93 homepage.

After finding my name in index, at the back, I became disappointed to find only two page numbers referencing my inclusion within the volume. The first would certainly be my senior picture. And the other … page 212 … was the Thespians group photo and a shot of me, in costume, from our senior production of “OKLAHOMA” were I played the Minister. There are no small parts, only small…whatever.

Although Heidi was not in Drama class that year she had come to the open try-outs having seen the movie version back in Germany as a child. I overheard her that day as she told Ms. Jade, the drama teacher, how she had wondered, before leaving Germany, if Colorado would look like Oklahoma from the film (horses, boots, bandanas) since the two states touch each other. She was given the part of a dancing farm girl (non-speaking) as Ms. Jade found her accent too distracting for a more substantial part and I had to agree. I was frequently and, more or less, completely distracted.

During rehearsals I would stand in the wings watching her move as I waited for upcoming set change cues. Now I’m no authority on any form of dancing but she seemed to be a very natural dancer. Ms. Jade, who herself had been an aspiring dancer in her youth, would clap exuberantly, each and every time Heidi finished her part during rehearsals. After only one day, I found that Greg was not the only obstacle in my way. I too watched Heidi’s dancing and had grown increasingly uneasy seeing Toby Kinney repeatedly grabbing Heidi by the waist to lift her up during the “Square Dance” scene.

At the cast party, on the night of the last performance, Heidi and I did dance together to a couple of songs. During “Jump Around” we got a workout and I managed to score a few laughs from her as I bounced higher and higher with every squeak. When the D.J. played “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” I was amazed and turned-on by the fact that she knew all of the lyrics. The only let-down was that she never made eye contact with me as she sang. Very shrewd.

Weeks later, as the Drama class arrived at the Esquire Theater for our regular, monthly participation in the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, I was shocked to see Heidi, at the concession stand, purchasing a huge, and I mean HUGE, dill pickle. At first I hesitated in approaching her because I had come, in costume, in my resale shop tuxedo with red cummerbund and socks, dark sunglasses, bright red lipstick.

After her laughter subsided I discovered that she was attending the show with a gathering of exchange students who had been placed in schools throughout central Colorado.  She told me that some of the students had never actually seen the film before, while other had never even heard of it. Most of her group was dressed semi-formally having come from a fancy dinner, earlier in the evening.  Another moment or two of uneventful small talk and she was gone.

I watched her after she rejoined her party of world travelers, down near the front row. Throughout the show I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as she shouted “Arschloch!” each time Brad’s name was recited on-screen.

As the house lights came up, at the end, Heidi’s very cosmopolitan collection of fellow students passed by me and my Drama gang. I overheard Heidi saying, “See you guys on Monday.” in her best American accent. As I turned towards the sound of her voice I was certain that she had been looking directly at me. To tell the truth, that bit might be a manufactured and well-aged “Memory.”

“You almost forgot the best part.” I told myself.

Oh yeah. As her group filed past us I caught sight of a red and black garter lying in the main aisle. I hustled to retrieve it, wanting desperately to believe that it had been dropped by one of the exotic exchange students, preferably Heidi. I couldn’t wait for Monday to ask her, “So, did you and your friends enjoy the show the other night? Oh, by the way, did you drop this? (Out pops the garter twirling around my index finger like a hula-hoop.)

When Monday did come a trigonometry exam, that I failed to adequately study for, kicked my butt. I found Heidi talking with Greg in the parking lot, after the last bell. I struggled to pull the garter out of my pocket because it had become tangle up with my car keys. When the garter finally came out so did the keys, which hit the ground at Heidi’s feet. I snatched the keys and stood up way too quickly. I had become light-headed. “Is this yours?” I said.

“Dude!” Greg exclaimed.

Heidi began laughing wildly. “That’s Yohito’s garter”

My mind replayed the moments in the theater. I smiled as I imagined the garter wrapped around the thigh of a lovely Japanese girl that I thought I could remember from Heidi’s group.

“Oh, it’s hers?” I said.

“His!” she cackled. “Yohito is a boy from Osaka.

As I walked away red-faced, with the garter tightly concealed in my fist, I looked for the nearest trash can. Through the years Greg need only mention the “Garter Incident” and my face would turn instantly crimson.

Greg was smart enough to recognize all the signs of the crush that I had developed on Heidi so he kept all indications of their friendship as low key as possible. He rarely mentioned her during that time, but then he didn’t have to since she had become my favorite topic of idle conversation. How very diplomatic of him.

One Saturday, in May, I headed to the mall near my house, to check on some special order CDs at Vic’s Music Emporium. I also just wanted to hang out at some distance from the yard work that awaited me back home. Stepping into to the dim neon glow of Vic’s, I saw several classmates and we gave each other the customary “Reverse” nod. After Rick, the special order specialist, informed me of the back-order status of all my discs I realized I need to quickly find the nearest rest rooms. (Probably too much orange juice at breakfast. A life-long problem.) The mall restrooms were at the opposite end of the building while Macy’s was just on the other side of the courtyard fountains from Vic’s. Unfortunately Macy’s Men’s room was in the very back of the Ladies Lingerie department. What the hell were the store’s planners thinking? This was not an area I enjoyed being seen in or near, especially by classmates. Based on the current levels of bladder discomfort that I was feeling, I figured I would have to risk the embarrassment. I imagined, as I walked with a bow-legged gate, that I must certainly look like a Bronc rider quickly exiting the ring after getting bucked off. When I finished surveying the surroundings I focused my attention on the door marked “Men’s” and blocked everything else out.

Leaving the restroom I must have missed the “Wet Floor” warning signs because I stepped right into a big puddle of “Murphy’s Law.” Walking into the open lingerie department who should I almost literally bump into by a rack of red, satin underwear? I think you already know.

“Hello Billy,” Heidi said, with a soft Teutonic lilt. My head snapped up and around and within seconds my face was as red as the shiny bra she was holding up to her chest, obscuring most of the Mickey Mouse Club logo on the front of her t-shirt. “Oh God,” I whispered under my breath. Trying to regain my cool, I made the mistake, as many Americans do when speaking to foreigners, of trying to speak her native language. “Guten Abend,” I said sounding too much like a bad Sgt. Schultz impersonation.

“Guten TAG,” she corrected. The redness of my face now extended through my entire body. I looked down and could see it in my hands with my fingernails glowing white. I wanted to believe that she sensed my predicament and took pity on me. “I still get mixed up when I use the word “Bad” to mean something is good,” she said. “I always sound silly.”

“I can’t imagine anything you could say that would sound silly to me.” Had I just let that come out of my mouth?

“You’re just being kind now,” she said. This being the longest conversation with Heidi that I had ever had, I summoned enough moxie to draw it out.

“Are you looking for anything in particular Miss?” I said as if I were a clerk from the store. She joined right in.

“Please, may I try this on?” she said, holding the bra up by its hanger.

“Certainly. Right this way.” I motioned to the right then paused. I was stuck because I had no idea where the Ladies fitting room were.

“Not that way… This way,” she said.

“But of course,” I said, mustering all of my thespian skills to remain in character.

I soon found that she was leading me right to the actual fitting rooms. I had fully expected that to be the end of the scene. She wouldn’t really want to try the bra on would she? They don’t let people try on underwear do they?

Too late. She was already inside. I could hear the metal rings scraping across the brass bar as she pulled the curtain closed behind her. Wanting to be able to leave quickly if I had to, I scanned the area for the nearest exit.

Within a few more moments, I again heard the scraping curtain ring sound and braced myself for whatever might come next. Heidi lept soundlessly into the open doorway to the fitting rooms and assumed a Peter Pan stance. “How does this look?” I suddenly realized I was squinting a bit, not wanting to be overcome all at once. “Well?” she said.

With un-squinted eyes I could not help but laugh at the spectacle standing before me. Over the top of her t-shirt Heidi had slipped into the satiny brassiere. Both of the valentine colored cups were positioned precisely on top of Mickey Mouse’s ears so he looked as though he was wearing some space-aged headphones, with the bra straps acting as antennae.

“What is so funny,” she said.

“Check out Mickey’s head gear!” I laughed.

Heidi stepped over to the full length mirror beside me and let out a snort of excitement.

“May I help you with something young lady?” came a mildly annoyed voice from the other side of the mirror. I stifled my laughter and the impulse to take-off as fast as possible. Peering around the mirror I saw the fitting room attendant who looked old enough to be my Grandma Dotty. Heidi was literally in stitches, wrapping both her arms around her stomach. “She was just…,” I started to say.

“Yes, I can see what she was just…,” the lady replied sharply. “And now I’m just going to tell you something. This store isn’t a nursery school for you kids to play “Dress-up” in.

I suddenly noticed all the woman’s attentions were aimed exclusively at me. I looked over to where Heidi had been paralyzed with hysterics a mere moment ago and she was nowhere to be seen or heard.

Everything seemed to go “Slo-Mo”, my feet planted to the spot, as I oscillated back towards this underemployed librarian of a clerk. Then I was, at once, hurled back to the full speed of reality as I felt the soft but firm grip of a hand in my own left hand. Heidi pulled me along as we made a hasty retreat; stage right.

Once we had made it across the border from Foley’s and out into the open mall Heidi started laughing all over again. No snorts this time, just hard, honest laughter. “What now,” I thought to myself. I was living a dream come true which had to mean that I was due to wake up any minute now.

I was working on a bad case of “Cotton mouth” after our brief entanglement with the Undie Gestapo so I decided to parlay the situation in to an extension of this new-found companionship.

“I’m thirsty. You wanna get a drink?”

Heidi’s eyes lit up. “Are you a psychic?” she asked smiling.

“Only on weekends,” I replied, feeling a certain confidence creeping over me. “Let me guess… Orange Julius?” I asked.

“I’ve never had one of those before,” she said. She must have instantly read the disappointment in my aura. “But I have always wanted to try it,” she continued.

As I was attempting to pay for Heidi’s drink she knocked my hand out of the way. “Here,” she said, handing the Orange Julius guy a five.

“No offense,” I said as I paid for my own Julius.

“None taken,” she replied with business-like brevity. Taking her change back she left me standing at the counter covered in confusion. I had to make myself shake off the feelings that I had just been snubbed.

Was I in violation of some Germanic code of conduct between the sexes? I imagined that, before leaving the Fatherland, the ladies of her village must have sat her down and told her, “Whatever you do Heidi, don’t let the American boys buy you any fruity drinks.”

As we moved to an empty table in the food court I was a bit conflicted. Should I hold her chair out for her, or not? I elected to skip it. Was everything slipping away from me now?

We sat in near silence for minutes as I tried to think of an acceptable topic of conversation. I’ve always heard that people like to talk about themselves so I took a shot.

“Which city, in Germany, are you from?” I asked.   

“Bochum.” No elaboration. Damn.

“It rarely goes above 24 degrees Celsius and the average rain fall per year is 27cm.” She sounded as if she were reading from a text book.

“Did I do, or say something wrong?” I asked.

“How long have you and Greg been friends?” she asked very casually, looking around the nearly packed food court.

“Since we were one year olds,” I replied.

Now, don’t think that I didn’t see what Heidi just did there, changing the subject and all. I caught it right away.  But hey, at least we were talking again. Besides, her choice of subject was my best friend so, like it or not, I had to look out for his interests. And anyway, I was really curious about where this was heading.

To prime the pump I asked, “Who’s your best friend back in Germany?” The question brought an immediate smile to her face. “Klaudia!” she exclaimed with certainty. “I miss her right now, at this second.”

Wanting to see to it that her smile continued I asked, “What would you be doing right now if you two were together?”

“Listening to music… or talking.”  “What would you be talking about?”  “Girl things,” she whispered low, putting a finger to her lips. This was getting good again.

I asked, “Have you spoken with Claudia since you got to America?”  “I have written at least two letters to her each week. Sometimes more.” 

“Wow. I don’t think I have written much more than two letters in my entire life,” I said.

She reached into her handbag and pulled out some stationary.

“I keep some pages with me all the time so I can write down anything interesting before I forget it,” she said.

“Is there anything about Greg in there?” I asked, wishing right away that I hadn’t.

“That’s private,” she said.

I wondered if our little escapade at the fitting rooms would make it into her next communique’ to Claudia but I dared not ask. Finally, the sounds of sucking straws in empty cups meant the show was coming to a close.

Standing up quickly she announced, “Well, I must go.”

I took a look at my watch. “Woa! Me too,” I said. 

“Did you drive to the mall?” she asked.

“No I walked. I just live a couple of blocks away.”

“Does Greg live near you?” she probed.

I shook my head. “Not really, but still he’s close enough that I don’t send him letters each week.”

She smiled one more time.

“Good-bye Billy.”

Grabbing both of our empty cups Heidi went straight to the nearest trash can. I watched her till she rounded the corner at the end of the food court.

Walking home I hoped that I would dream about her that night.       

On the night of our commencement ceremony Tina Jones’ parents threw a huge graduation pool party. The Jones family had played host to Heidi since she arrived the previous summer and over the course of the school year she and Tina had become good friends. Tina and I, on the other hand, were not what you would call “Tight” but I did manage to scrounge a provisional invite on condition that Greg had to come too. She was obviously one of his many admirers. (Yikes! Bizarre Love Rectangle.)

Mr. and Mrs. Jones were rather forward thinking parents and it took little arm twisting from Tina to get them to allow beer drinking at party after she explained that in Germany, Heidi and her friends had been legal to drink when they turned sixteen. Most of the unattached boys at the party huddled around Mr. Jones as he dispensed Foster’s from a keg into their eager, clear plastic cups party cups, while a smoldering Macanudo hung from his mouth. Tina busied herself discretely passing out bottles of Zima to her female “Inner Circle.”

I was standing poolside, next to Greg, nursing a lukewarm, foamy, cup-o-beer when I saw Heidi approaching. She was very intently focused on something past Greg and I so I shot a quick glance to my right to see if I could make whatever it was. Turning back, I had enough time to make out the glint in her eye and the subtle rise of her cheekbones. Her right arm shot out to the side, her palm mashing into Greg’s chest. This was a calculated attack.

Losing his balance in the surprise of the moment Greg’s arms went up and out. He managed to grab the front of my shirt in a failed attempt to steady himself. What he achieved was domino-like. Before I could fully comprehend what this must have looked like to the common bystander, Greg and I, beer cups included, where in the Jones’ swimming pool. After the roaring laughter and applause from the crowd died down, Heidi looked from Greg over to me. I saw the shapes of words silently forming on her exaggerated, German lips, “I’M SORRY!”

In mid-June Greg and his family were preparing for their last “Family” vacation to Florida before we all began college in the fall. On Friday evening, before they left town, Greg was nowhere to be found. I wanted him to come by to shoot baskets before leaving me on my own for the next three weeks but no one at his house knew where he had gotten off to. A phone call at 7:00 am the next morning brought me up to speed.

“She’s leaving Sunday at about 2:00 in the afternoon. First to New York City, then onto Munich,” Greg told me.

I began to understand how he had come by the information and where he had been the night before.

“We’re just about to head out the door ourselves,” he said.

“Well it’ll be dullsville around hear but I’ll manage,” I said.

“Go to the airport and say good-bye to her.”

“I don’t know… I might… if I’m not too busy.”

“Billy… just do it,” he said.

I like a man of few words.

On Sunday, at the airport, I cautiously approached the farewell cluster of former classmates to make certain that I didn’t stick out. No such luck. Tina and her parents were there, of course, encircled by an all-female assortment that I rarely, if ever, had had any classes with over the past few years.

It was Tina who noticed me first. She found me leaning against a column, holding my yearbook.

“Is Greg with you?” she asked.

“He’s with his folks in Florida,” I said.

“So, what are you doing here?”

“That’s a really good question,” I muttered.

Women’s intuition must have kicked in. “Oh, I get it,” Tina said.

I’m pretty sure she did get it.

Recognizing me from the party, Mr. Jones shouted out across the terminal, “Well if it isn’t the pool-boy.” This was not the sort of attention I was interested in but, oh well.

Heidi did not seem all together surprised at my appearance as I made my way through the gathering. 

“Hello Billy,” she said with a smile.

It struck me, just then, that it would be the last time I would see that smile. Unable to recover immediately, because of a growing lump in my throat, I opened the back cover of my yearbook, pulled out a folded scrap of paper that was stuffed in the crease, and handed it to her. She read it, refolded it, and slipped it into her carry-on bag which sat on a terminal chair next to where we stood.

“Would you mind signing my yearbook?” I said, producing a felt-tipped pen from my back pocket.

Heidi cocked her head slightly, like a sad puppy.

“Mine is already on the plane inside of my trunk,” she said apologetically.

“That’s okay.”

She looked directly into my face for an uncomfortably long time while deciding what to write. Feeling too much like the center of attention, I stepped to one side and spoke to a girl named Saundra Meckler, who I had sat across from in Chemistry Lab.

In no time, an announcement was made and passenger began boarding the flight. I saw Heidi feverishly scribbling and scratching in my book. Friends began closing in as she handed the book back to me. Wiggling my felt tip in the air she said, “I’m going to keep this.” I got a hug. “Good-bye Billy,” she said.

Backing my way out of the tearful mob I said, “Have a safe trip.”

I found a solitary spot, outside, on the observation deck. Four or five minutes after I could no longer see her plane in the sky I left the terminal and drove home. I couldn’t bring myself to look into my yearbook till the next day. Finally I was overcome by curiosity. Flipping open the back cover to the book I searched for what Heidi had labored at so purposefully. 

This is what I found there.

Summer was scheduled for an unceremonious end in August until a last minute decision by Greg put an end to plans we’d been perfecting since junior high. Long about the 8th grade Greg and I had decided we would both be attending the University of Texas, Austin. We would room together, carpool back to Colorado during breaks together, and might even take some classes together. Admission papers had been finalized and dorm reservations accepted back in July.On the evening of August 23rd Greg called.

“Dude, I’m not going.  Well I am going.  Just not to Texas,” he said.

Greg did not know how to pull a prank so I understood this was for real. I wanted very much to get angry and curse at him but after 17 years of friendship I knew, all too well, what a waste of time that would be.

“Where are you going then?” I asked.

“L.A. My cousin Jake just got himself a Hollywood agent and he’s been going to all these auditions. Jake showed the guy my picture and he thinks I might be right for television. I’m driving out there tomorrow. What do ya think?” he asked.

“I guess I’ll see you at Christmas,” I said. It was all I could think to say. Summer was now officially over.

In my third week at U.T., I was heading back to my dorm room after computer lab was canceled for the day due to suspected student hacking. Stopping off at the mail boxes I checked for any word from Greg or, perhaps, a care package from home. Inside the slot was a manila envelope with the familiar hand writing of my Mother on it. Once I was safely in my room, I seated myself on the edge of my bed and tore the envelope open, hastily dumping its contents on the blanket beside me. The envelope contained two items only. First, a note from Mom. Second, a battered, letter-sized envelope postmarked “Germany.”   (“Why does it hurt when my heart misses the beat?”)  Mom’s note was simple, and straight to the point. “I guess she didn’t have your school address.”

I was thankful that my roommate, Roberto’s classes hadn’t been canceled. I needed no interruptions or distractions. Just holding the envelope in my hands gave me a warm feeling that I wanted to bask in, for as long as I could hold onto it. I actually sniffed the envelope for a trace of Heidi then caught myself reflexively looking around to see if anyone in the empty room had seen me.

Pulling my key ring from my pocket I used one of the keys as a letter opener. I judged there to be a one page letter as I removed the envelope’s contents. Unfolding the paper carefully, to avoid tearing it, I caught sight of a separate, narrow, piece of paper twirling as it fell and landed on my shoe. Laying there, face-up, I surmised it to be a Xerox of something, and soon recognized it to be a strip of pictures from a coin-operated, photo booth. Heidi and another girl were staring up at me in four unique poses (including the obligatory “Stick out your tongue” shot.) I assumed that the other girl must be Claudia. Turning back to Heidi’s letter, it began:

Dear Billy,

I would have written to you sooner but it takes a very long time to settle back to a normal life when you have been away from home and family for a year.

I received a letter from Greg that was sent from California. He told me about his new choice of career. He is certainly handsome enough to be an actor. I do believe that he truly feels bad about ruining the plans you had made together.

It is warmer than normal here for this season of the year.It has been just perfect for clothing shopping, including new underwear. Don’t worry. We will try not to cause a public scene.Ho! Ho! 

We have been out all day gathering what we will need as we travel to Spain. Klaudia and I have been accepted to attend the University of Spain in Barcelona. There are only two weeks left before I move away from my family again.

My younger sister is behaving very sadly because I am

leaving so soon.  Her name is Marta and this morning she told my parents that she wants to go to Colorado as an exchange student like her sister. 

I have been telling everyone here about all of the teachers and students I encountered throughout the year. I will never forget any of it. The parties, the play, the classes. 

Once we are in a routine at the University I will try to write to everyone again.

I really have enjoyed very much meeting you. Say hello to Greg and Tina, for me, when you see them next. Well, I must go.

Sincerely, Heidi.

I re-read the letter several more times throughout the rest of the afternoon and studied the photos of Heidi and “K”laudia intently for any indications of a sign or signal of encouragement in her eyes. That night, feeling truly alone in the world,  I tried to write a very upbeat letter in reply. I explained to her about my classes and how Austin is a classic American college town full of constant activity.  It all sounded good on paper but having no one to share it with made the reality rather depressing. I rushed the letter to the campus post office the next day hoping that it would arrive before Heidi’s departure for Barcelona. There was never any reply.

It has been a long, hard week, both at work and at home. First, two of the original VPs took early retirement packages and will be gone by the end of the month. Next, my 14 year old, Annika, left me a long voicemail earlier today explaining all about how her Mother(my Ex) has decided not to invite me to her upcoming wedding (her 3rd marriage) and how she’s been posting it all over cyberspace. Finally, there’s really nothing good on T.V. this year.

“Why don’t you go online?” I asked me.

“You’re not suggesting some kind of dating service?” I reply. “Cause that’s just twisted.”

Within 5 minutes I am stretched out on the couch with an open Grolsch at my side, and Robert Smith wailing in the background. Checking emails on my pad, I find that Tina Jones has sent out another “Class of 93” update message regarding the 20 year reunion coming up this Summer. About 7 years after we graduated Tina, who was now married to an airline pilot and mother of two sweet looking, adopted Ukrainian children (the rumor goes that she simply didn’t want to wreck her figure with child-baring so the pilot took the fall supposedly becoming sterile from all the airport x-ray machines) Anyway… Tina had taken it upon herself to keep the Class of 93 connected. She single-handedly organized the 10th year reunion and has been primarily responsible for the creation of and updates to the class alumni website. The latest message promises a Carnival or, perhaps, a Cabaret theme for the 2oth anniversary. I’ve already gotten Greg’s clockwork monthly email so I know he won’t be at the reunion because of location shooting in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain all Summer long.

In the last few weeks, since the reunion e-vites went out, I’ve made a habit of checking the alumni site almost daily to see who has registered and to generally stay current on the list of classmates who have passed away (So long Toby Kinney.) Having already prepaid my reunion fees, I like to monitor the “Will be, Won’t be, and Might be attending” lists to try and figure out who I could tolerate sitting next to before the heavyweights start the “Serious” drinking at the first night’s Mixer.

“I think I’ll check my “Connections” page.”

As usual I find an assortment of Lost: Parents, Jobs, and Kittens, as well as, New: Children, Grandchildren, Jobs, and Cars. I can’t think of a thing I wish to share with this crowd so I just read.

One beer consumed from a horizontal position and I’m out. “Good-night Nurse.”

A short buzz that vibrates on my stomach, and a “Ding!” that actually sounds like a dry cleaner’s front counter bell, and I achieve about  70% wakefulness. I lift the pad off of my chest, to check it out, but it’s still blurry. In the upper, right corner I am beginning to make out the “Connections” friend request icon, which is a red, glowing, tin can with a string attached. It takes me multiple taps on the screen to open the request menu.

“You’re drunk, remember?” I reminded me.

“No I’m not! I just woke up.”


The menu is laid out from the oldest, unanswered request at the top, to the newest at the bottom. I quickly scroll through a page and a half of “Didn’t make the cut” requests till I hit the most recent. Taking a quick look at the clock, in the upper left of the screen, I’m distressed a bit to see that it’s currently 3:04 am.

“You’re gonna be wiped out all day,” I thought.

This new request came in only 2 minutes before.

“Who would be up at this hour?”

I reach 85% lucidity as I pull focus on the “New Message” line.

From: HM Habermeier

Subject: “Hello Billy!”  

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