The other day I thought about somebody I haven't seen in over 35 years. His name is Steve H. and he was, by my reckoning one of the most socially superior people I have ever known. Steve was captain of the swim team and so when I was a frosh, we celebrated at his home in Toluca Lake. (And through these facts, a sleuthier person than I could identify him, sorry Steve).
Or maybe not. You see I couldn't find him for free, and I have been able to find a lot of people online for free. In fact Steve is the first person I was really interested in finding for whom there was no trace whatsoever. And it reminded me of the way I embarassed myself, slightly, in Steve's parlor.
You see in 'hood terms, I could play piano and I could play tennis. In real terms, no. And so I played a touch of piano, that classic boogie woogie blues that every kid learns, and experience a bit of the clutch the pearls shunning, which I remember as stunning in the moment. I think that if the event had occurred a year earlier, before I had gotten to know any whitefolks at all, it might have struck deeper.
I will inquire about Steve at the reunion, some classmates or teachers might recall the H's considering what must have been some significant wealth they appeared to have and the tendency of private educational institutions to favor such families over more market-oriented funding sources. I think, quite frankly, that he has disappeared way over my head through a ceiling that is far from transparent. I would guess that he has, or has become a good lawyer and that that whole internet thing is beneath them.
I liked Steve. He was the kind of kid that we seem genuinely glad to know exists though we doubt them. Like pro-baller 'Admiral' David Robinson he seemed too goodie to be true and as such attracted the kinds of taunts juvenile kids and adults tend to dish. He was a freckle-faced redhead, good-natured, straight A kind of kid. His father was literally restoring a P-51 Mustang fighter plane in his garage, and he lived in a mansion on a lake. I don't know what happens to kids like that - they tend to disappear from my life. And I presume that they disappear up.
A year ago I visited the old neighborhood having attended the year previously the 50th birthday party of my first grade girlfriend. Her big 50 was such a success, and we all enjoyed hearing stories of the old 'hood so much, that she decided to do it again right at the old neighborhood gym. So on my way there I stopped in the old street and knocked on the door of Sims, one of the three boys exactly my age I grew up with as a teen. Sims had a picture of Mike T. on the mantle.
I didn't like Mike T. Nobody respected him. His bigger brother, who was maybe a half brother, beat him up and his father was a drunk and beat him up too. T had a bad attitude and he couldn't play football, or basketball. He was just on the large size of scrawny, cursed and mumbled all the time, got the words to songs all wrong and was constantly scratching his balls. We figured he had the itch.
I didn't recognize T in the picture on Sims' mantle but commented on his loud ugly yellow jumpsuit. It took Sims about five minutes of rolling on the floor laughing and recovering himself to tell my dumb ass that that was a prison uniform and T was in for murder. It was a visitation photograph of him with his teenaged daughter. Oh.
There have been people I used to know that my brother the cop has arrested, and when I left the old neighborhood, I could have probably guessed which of us would end up 'dead or in jail'. Mike T was for certain.
I think about Mike as one of the knuckleheads who became famous when NWA became famous. Their every bit of style, and everything 'gangsta' that came out of Los Angeles came from them being little brothers to guys like Sims and I. We never made a dime from our cultural influence - that all landed on Ice Cube's crafty hands, but the whole gangsta reality came from the likes of T, who sunk through the floor. I wouldn't expect to find him on the internet either, not that I would be looking.
I had a good couple hours hanging out with my 16 year old daughter today, and as we commonly do, we talked about her generation. We have great conversations and in this one agreed that maybe America isn't going to hell, but we sure do get tired of people who have lost their faith. Their whining is not only tolerated but broadcast, and it grates on our nerves. She told me that we have raised 'fence children' who listen to a lot of good, bad and ugly without getting overly affected by it. She's right. We're all very socially observant, but we articulate neutrally on only pontificate on our own dime. For that reason, I think we'll all see our way through.
On the shelf to my right is the 1955 Funk & Wagnell's edition of Emily Post. I think that perhaps 10% of its prescriptions are known and fewer still understood. Something's up with social mobility. Something negative. I think more Americans are beginning to take all of this zombie stuff a bit more seriously, and dish around the Constitution a little more casually and hate each other a bit more easily. Ceilings and floors are getting thicker, and it's not about 'income equality', it's about trust.
These days I'm reading Schneier's latest two books. They are not so much news as reminders and frameworks. Good stuff.