Well, it wasn't quite "My Dinner With Andre," but yesterday I had a date that might be worthy of at least an NPR show. You see, my archenemy from 7th grade and I officially "buried the hatchet" over lunch in the famed Conde Nast cafeteria. (Hey, if you're going to wait more than 25 years to do something like this, you might as well have a glam Frank Gehry backdrop.)
Mike and I actually first ran into each other at a bar here in Manhattan a couple of years ago, but it wasn't until we crossed paths again (outside the Lisa Kudrow film "Happy Endings") and then the 20-year high school reunion e-mails started going around did we plan to get together officially.
Naturally, once we sat down we couldn't even remember why we hated each other so much back at Rhodes Junior High, but isn't that half the fun of having a nemesis? It must have been 1979 or '80 and I vaguely recall that we were unspoken rivals for the attention of a hunky junior varsity wrestler. Mike swears I'm exaggerating both the hunkiness and the attention that was desired by either of us. I brought along the "memory book" from our 10-year reunion (which he skipped) and the book I'd bought for the 20-year (which we both skipped). We laughed and reminisced about old classmates, and took turns intermittently wishing we hadn't skipped the 20-year in 2005, and then took turns intermittently reminding one another why we didn't go in the first place (we barely knew any of them!). The whole thing was a lot of fun and I e-mailed him later how nice it was hanging out with someone with whom I'd shared a common experience so many years ago. Mike's sharp as tack and I quickly realized I'd missed out by not knowing him all of these years.
So still perplexed about the feud's origins by the time I got home from work last night, I decided to look through my trunk of old school papers and manuscripts to see if I could dig up even a small hint as to what this was really all about. Much to my surprise, I quickly came across the outline and a sketch of the proposed cover (above) of a book I'd planned to write(!) about the subject, aptly titled "Sweetcheeks." Mike was a tad overweight back then and his perpetual ruddiness really rubbed me the wrong way for some reason. The book's subtitle reads: "When you're in 7th grade, you have friends and enemies: I'd like you all to meet Sweetcheeks." (At age 12, clearly I was in my Judy Blume phase.) ("Sweetcheeks" was to have been the follow-up to my 6th-grade-camp saga, "Don't Forget Your Toothbrush," which I actually did finish back then.)
So, as if my holding on to this outline (in my tiny Manhattan apartment!) weren't ridiculous enough, I also discovered that in these four handwritten pages of notes, other than the title there is nary a mention of (my new BFF) Mike! (Who knows what I was thinking.)
So the mystery remains, but our lunch was a hoot. Mike's grown up to be a big success, hasn't aged a bit, and has long since lost his baby fat (wink). I hope we get together again soon. Just between you and me, I'm hoping I can get him to autograph my copy of "Sweetcheeks" ...
P.S. And it wasn't just me. Todd Bailey -- who was later on Ed McMahon's "Star Search" and slept with my boyfriend Derek behind my back in college -- totally hated him, too.