I had originally written this for the blog, but since it had (somewhat) to do with a movie I offered it up to Mr. Vrabel as a column for the Guide. It runs on Friday...
Watching “Superbad” this past weekend brought me back in time: I ceased to be the “I can’t believe I’m almost 30” guy I was when I walked in, and reverted back to being 17. While I laughed quite a bit at the movie, I also came away missing my best friend from high school. The relationship between Evan and Seth hit close to home, as I saw myself completely in Evan: responsible and loyal, always doing the right thing no matter how much fun it kept me from having. And I saw my friend Bill completely in Seth: impulsive but sensitive, always one step away from doing something that was going to blow up in both our faces. We even had our own McLovin - a kid named Jimmy that neither one of us really liked but we allowed to hang out with us anyway.
Bill and I both grew up in Maryland, and started hanging out in the fourth grade. What followed for the next decade was, as I look back on it now, the most puerile fun I’ve ever had in my life. There were the countless trips to the mall (with a stop at a gas station on the way that had a Taco Bell in it — we considered this to be the greatest innovation of the 20th century), playing video games and constantly arguing about whether or not the Enterprise could defeat a Star Destroyer.
While we never tried to get a fake ID to buy booze with, we did play football on a frozen lake (which was a bad idea), drive around in his piece-of-crap Ford Escort during the blizzard of ’96 (which was an even worse idea) and invite a couple of girls over to my place a few weeks after graduation only to find out they were both 15 (which was an extremely terrible idea) and just doing one ridiculous thing after another. Have you ever tried riding a bike through a cornfield? Don’t.
In the summer of 1994, we worked together in what was the first job for both of us — assisting at a tennis pro shop. He and another co-worker had a fight every day about the answering machine message. Bill would record the message in the afternoon, then the other guy would change it the next morning. The war went on for several weeks, finally coming to an end when Bill “accidentally” sprayed him in the face with Raid while “attempting” to kill a wasp.
One time we drove to the movies and stopped to get something to eat. We got into an argument about something stupid, and he got up from the table and left. I assumed that he had walked to a theater that was close by, so I went there and sat through “Batman & Robin” waiting for him to show up. He never did, so I thought maybe he had called someone to come get him and went home. About 20 miles down the road, I came upon him walking home (in retrospect, I wish I’d walked home too rather than watch Joel Schumacher finish slaughtering the “Batman” franchise). That was Bill in a nutshell. Even so, I knew that no matter what, he always had my back.
High school, in particular, was a horror show for us both. We leaned on each other to make it through the tough times: the parties we weren’t cool enough to be invited to, the beautiful girls we couldn’t work up the nerve to talk to, the teachers we swore had it in for us. It was four years of hell, and we were both happy to see it end. Of course when it did, just like Evan and Seth, we ended up going our separate ways.
Although we’ve kept in touch over the years, living in different states and both having a career and a marriage make it impossible to act like we could when we were kids. I was reminded while watching “Superbad,” that in the process of having an adult life, I’ve lost something. It occurs to me that as I get ready to start the long, slow descent into old age, I should go visit Bill and hang out — maybe even do something stupid — just because we still can.