Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Junior Sigh

Sophomores on identical "lifestyle trajectories" ...

Every other day seems to bring more horror stories from the world of Googling and social networking. From Facebook's "frightening" new terms of service to my friends who are constantly being "stalked" by strangers and old classmates with whom they now want nothing to do. Each time I listen and nod, not wanting to reveal the fact that Facebook and the gang have been nothing but a source of pure joy for me. The list goes on an on -- friends from grade school, friends from high school, friends from college, friends from jobs, friends I'd had a falling out with, friends I'd lost track of -- with each new encounter leading to the rebirth of a relationship I'd been missing. Just last week I heard from a dear friend from high school in Arizona I hadn't talked to since I moved to Los Angeles in 1990. She found me on Facebook and there she was, gorgeous as ever, now married with kids living in Michigan, of all places!

But yesterday was probably the most touching one of all. I got a follow-up e-mail from a Web search hit and run from a year and a half ago. Myk Mishoe -- or Mike, as he was known back at Rhodes Junior High -- had come across my blog while Googling himself one day. (In the post I was lamenting that he got those suede Duran Duran boots before I did in high school!) He sent me a sweet e-mail and reminded me that he still had photographs we'd taken "on the set" of the horror film we were working on back in junior high, "My Bloody Santa." He'd wear this rubber mask and chase me around the neighborhood with a butcher knife while I screamed like a girl. (His poor neighbors -- and mother!) Myk and I were OBSESSED with horror films back then -- and luckily my older brother Bill was too, always more than willing to take us to the drive-in to see the latest, from "He Knows You're Alone," and "The Day After Halloween" to "Eyes of a Stranger" and "Halloween 2" (the long-awaited sequel to the GREATEST HORROR FILM ever).

Andrew and Myk: I now pronounce you spouse and spouse

I wrote Myk back, but then never heard from him. But after seeing his MySpace profile filled with pictures of him and someone who was obviously his significant other, he was never far from my thoughts. Our childhood friendship was intense but fleeting and, like most at that age, unnecessarily complicated. I think we met through Mike Murphy, my seventh grade BFF, while over at Mike's house making prank phone calls after school one day. Myk and I ended up hitting it off in our own right and became inseparable during eighth and ninth grades. (Surprisingly, I don't have any photos from that era.) We spent every weekend -- all weekend -- staying over at each other's houses. And our 9th grade Halloween party -- that started out a dud -- wound up being talked about for years. Our unrealized gay connection undoubtedly was a factor -- well, that and our obsession with "Caveman," "Jessie's Girl" and microwave bacon -- although it would ultimately play a part in tearing us apart, ironically or predictably, depending on your view of things . As I blogged about last month, the freshman tennis team was a huge turning point in my life. (Mike Murphy, Myk and I were all on it.)

Jim Bell's forehand volley was the least of his issues

I'd grown close to the new kid on the team, Jim Bell, and he and I started hanging out all the time and even playing doubles tournaments together. But at some point along the line, Jim freaked out on me and helped organize a team ultimatum to force me decide between them (or should I say him?) and my friend Greg, whom they (or should I say, Jim?) suddenly deemed as being too "gay." (Naturally I chose Greg, and -- big surprise -- I would later learn that Jim -- whose mom was an evangelical nutcase -- was a big messed-up fag.) But the following year most of that was water under the bridge as we'd all moved on to high school and Jim had since gone to live with his father in Orange County. And while I don't remember Myk being a big part in that tennis team drama, by then we had all found new cliques to hang out with anyway, so our friendship had kind of run its course.

Juniors with an attitude, fellas that were in the mood ...

Still, I liked Myk and wanted to stay in touch. We were still friendly and both took an instant liking to the new wave scene that had swept the nation in the early '80s. Myk was always shocking everyone with his latest fashions and I was always secretly trying to keep up with him. (Try as I might, I was always Howard Jones to his Steve Strange.) I'll never forget the day he showed up to first period in this great two-toned horizontal Chess King (or was it Jeans West?) shirt with two studded belts from Judy's hooked together to go over his shoulder and around his waist -- like a crossing guard -- and parachute pants tucked into his Nick Rhodes boots. (He looked so good and Dobson High was completely aghast!) The summer of '83 we wound up hanging out a little, most memorably going to see the Andrew McCarthy-Rob Lowe flick, "Class," at the midnight movies along with his new friends, Pam Horton (a onetime Dobson student) and some guy named Rene, who were older "punk" types to my more "mod" friends.

The Police headlined, but I was all about the Thompson Twins and a little Madness

At the beginning of our junior year I ended up getting a last-minute invite from them to the Police, Thompson Twins, Madness show at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Although Myk and I still connected on the rare occasions that we hung out, he had matured way quicker than I had and was hanging out with a much "faster" crowd. So when his friends would be drinking and smoking pot in the back of their van, I was sort of terrified. (In fact, I can remember another time being invited to a party at his house and feeling so out of place, I excused myself to the backyard and hopped the fence and went home!) Things took another bizarre turn when rumors about Myk's sexuality began spreading around the school and his friend Pam called me up accusing me of being the source and threatening me in that Nancy Spungeon way of hers. (Having been through a similar experience, I totally wasn't. But there was no reasoning with her, by then six months preganant.) But then sometime around then Myk's mother died -- a sweet woman with a thick accent who I remember as frequently flummoxed, not quite sure what we were up to back in junior high -- and his father packed him and his little sister up for California. I never saw or heard from him again until that e-mail in 2007.

So imagine how emotional it was for me to see Myk "live" for the first time in 25 years in a YouTube video he sent me yesterday from his October 2008 nuptials! (I'm not kidding when I say I teared up. I think all my Prop 8 rage was released in one good cry as my friend and his partner looked so happy "making it legal.") I think straight people take it for granted that they will see all of their friends go through all of these rites of passage. But I'm 41 years old and this was the FIRST TIME I'd ever seen (well, sort of) one of my friends get married. The courthouse ceremony belied the huge reception with 300 guests, including Myk's father and sister. (The pictures looked like it was a lot of fun. I'm so happy for you guys!) Myk's a hot shot photographer in L.A. now and I'm hoping we really do keep in touch more. (I'm going out there next month and he's sent me all of his contact info.) But however things turn out moving forward, I'm really happy with the way things have turned out. Just don't tell my social-network-phobic friends about it, OK? They don't need to know about my happy ending with Myk. And I'm not about to get into recent Facebook reunion with an old Dobson nemesis who is now BFFs with Amanda Lepore. ...


WranglerMan said...

What a sweet ending! Or should I say a new beginning for them and the re-kindling of your friendship?

Gosh! Your recollection of all that teenage drama and angst brought back some memories of my own youth.

Can't help but be reminded that you never know what another goes through, until you walk a mile in their shoes!

Luis said...

September 7, 1983 is my birthday!! This post made my day

Anonymous said...

This is such a BEAUTIFUL story. And how wonderful that you were able to connect to someone who you thought would never meet again.

And to discover he is also gay, what a gift of life!

Funny, I was telling a friend I don't want Facebook. I'm too "VIP" so I tell my friends. But then I was thinking of fiasco the last 2 days with Facebook changing its term saying ANYTHING you post can be theirs since you will relinquish all rights. Well I think they are going back to their original policies.

Either, I may just consider it in the future.

Again, wonderful post!