Morning. I'm sitting at home in my robe, enjoying a vacation day. I start a new job next Friday, and I expect to be pretty busy for quite a while-- so I'm getting some R & R time in. Three day-weekends are a good thing. Don't they give everyone three-day weekends in Europe or something? There's an idea. I'm rambling.
As it frequently is, my television is tuned to ESPN Classic. (Greatest channel ever, by the by.) This morning I'm watching an NFL Films "Season in Review" show featuring the 1992 San Francisco 49ers. I remember them being really good then; watching the show reminds me of that. Steve Young, pre-ego Ricky Watters, Jerry Rice... Rice should really petition the NFL to bar showings of this episode-- between the Kid & Play haircut and the multiple-geometric-shape silk shirt makes the greatest receiver ever look like a member of Kriss Kross.
Sorry, necessary digression. "Two-Minute Drill," the failed ESPN game show, is on now. Was there any doubt that this show was doomed? Nothing like combining a timed round of question-and-answer with the questions being read by... professional athletes. Good heavens. Kenny Anderson just took 488 seconds to ask "Who led the 1990 Georgia Tech basketball team to the NCAA Final Four." And Mark Fidyrich should really order that Hooked on Phonics video.
End digression. As I was watching the 49ers '92 retrospective, I got to thinking... that was ten %*^ years ago. Wow. That feels like a really long time. And then I realized, that's right around the time that I started hanging out with the two yahoos that are on this site with me. That seems even more bizzare, since I always considered my friendship with wadE and Alex to have come pretty late in my youth.
So, for your entertainment... As Ahmad Rashad says, we're going to rewind. What would things look like on a Friday in October ten years ago? (Feel free to add Wayne's World fantasy sequence noises here to help put you in the right frame of mind.)
Me and Jason. Note: all pics from '95 to '97; wadE was offical photographer for high school years.
It's 7:43 in the morning. I'm standing in my kitchen, muttering to myself. "No good McEwen time," I say under my breath. McEwen is Jason McEwen, another member of the group, who I met through Alex. (Actually, Jason and I have more of a history, including long hair, Budweiser loafers, and me screaming "Dead Eye Dick"... but that's a story for another time.) Anyhow, Jason has been giving me (and wadE) rides to the high school. While this is a great thing (especially considering the alternative-- a ride from the parents), it's also a stressful thing, as Jason is usually running late. This hasn't changed by the way.
Finally he arrives, and I run out and get in his car. I honestly don't know what kind of car he had, but we dubbed it "The Silver Fox." It was a four-door sedanish kind of car. The mess in the backseat was, um, legendary. I once discovered an orange juice container that contained a substance that was much more green than orange. Still, he had a car.
Oh, that was me. Since I was the "second" Wade, I received the nickname Flipper. There was a mediocre receiver for the L.A. Rams at that time named Willie "Flipper" Anderson. Could've been worse.
We speed over to wadE's, with the Doors blaring "Unkown Soldier" from the tape player. wadE's standing outside his house, looking more than a little upset with our late arrival. We park a couple of blocks west of the school and scurry inside. No worries-- I stroll into Johnny Pacovsky's first hour pre-Calculus class with a minute to spare. Come to think of it, Johnny P. probably deserves a simpleprop article all by himself. Maybe next week.
I survive that, along with Spanish, American History and Marketing, to make it to lunch. wadE and Jason brought their lunches, while Alex and I walked to Ankeny's to buy ours. Ankeny's was / is a local chain of convenience stores in Austin. There was one two blocks south of the high school that I had began working at the previous summer. Fun times. Anyway, having purchased our nutritional lunch (mine: Combos, Nestle Crunch bar and a Snapple), we strolled back. There's also a great story about wadE eating his bag lunch in the hallways of the high school, but I'll leave it to him to tell that fabled "rock collection" tale.
Physics, yearbook staff, and a study hall round out the afternoon. Aaaah, there's the bell. Three p.m. on a Friday in high school. Was there a better time? I walk home, say hello to my Mom, and go downstairs to my room. (I stayed in the basement for nearly a year in high school. I really don't know why.) After watching MTV and eating dinner, I jump into my car (1981 4-door Chevy Malibu) and head over to wadE's.
wadE's was always the central meeting place, for multiple reasons. It was kinda in the middle for everyone; Jason had the longest drive, Al could walk. wadE's place featured the TV room-- big (for that time) screen TV, ample seating (I usually got the folding chair), and parents who would stay out of the way. Ohhhh, and the buffet. wadE's mom had this table in the kitchen where she would set out all kinds of food that high schoolers loved-- potato chips, Hostess goodies, cookies-- you get the idea.
I (Florida State hat, Notre Dame sweatshirt) walk into wadE's (no hat, Twins shirt), grab a Sunkist from the refrigerator and a couple of Harlem Twinkies (chocolate sponge cakes) from the buffet, and go into the TV room. Alex (Atlanta Falcons hat, Atlanta Falcons shirt) is there already, and he and wadE are engaged in a game of Super Tecmo Bowl. Al was Atlanta (of course) and wadE was Houston (of course.) I didn't pay much attention, choosing instead to peruse last year's high school yearbook that we had just received. Before long, Jason showed up (Detroit Tigers hat, and that damn Buffalo Starter jacket.)
For the next couple of hours, we alternate between playing Super Nintendo, watching hockey, and watching HBO. I'd like to think our topics of conversation were similar to most people our age: girls, sports, making fun of teachers... I was always pretty impressed by how much fun I had in high school. Even though many of our classmates began drinking around that time period, we never did. (Then college came...)
Around 9:30, we got up and went outside and jumped in wadE's car, a maroon Ford Tempo (oops, Topaz.) It was known as the Palace of Love. You probably don't want to know why. Similar to his house, we always took wadE's car. It was roomy, clean, and, well, there may have been a control issue with driving too. ;> We got in, wadE and Al in front, Jason and I in back. And then we started cruising.
My view for most of high school.
Maybe it's a small-town thing, maybe it's an Austin thing... but for entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, people our age drove up and down the two major one-way streets in Austin. Over and over and over again. Hanging out in parking lots also became, uh, fashionable, but we never really got into that much. We also varied the cruising route a bit, taking side trips into the residential parts of town, driving past the houses of girls we liked. (You say stalking, I say tomato.) We'd also make a stop at Apollo (another convenience store) for sustenance-- generally more Snapple and Combos.
And we'd drive. And drive. I'm sure wadE still can remember the number of miles we'd generally put on his car those nights. It was pretty amazing. There were occasional stops (Steve's Pizza, Kim's house) but for the most part we'd just drive. And then, when curfews approached (ok, I was the only one with a curfew), we'd each "call it" and get dropped back at our car at wadE's. I'd drive home, jump into my waterbed, and wake up Saturday-- and likely do the same thing Saturday night.
That's about it, from my recollection. It wasn't the most *exciting* of times, but I wouldn't trade it for anything else. I feel lucky to have been able to have such a close group of friends during that stage of life, and even luckier to be close with them still. I wonder what cruising down Lyndale would be like....