In 1980 Jay Chism was the most popular guy at Stockton High School. I was his comedy relief sidekick. Then we had to go our separate ways.
We don’t see each other much anymore. He lives in the southwestern part of the state, I live in the northeast. We don’t make it home very often and when we do we rarely hook up. We’re not phone people.
Jay was born eight days before me, so I took great pride a few weeks ago in sending him an e-mail notifying him that he was officially over-the-hill while I was still a young man of 49. He responded that he was on his way to Costa Rica as part of some National Leadership Program he was taking part of and he’d get back to me when he returned.
Yesterday he checked in to congratulate me on jumping the hill, and send me a lovely photo of him with all his birthday cards.
I responded in kind.
I asked Jay how he celebrated the big 5-0. “Mindy surprised me on Friday night with a dinner in Joplin with all the neighbors.” Jay asked how I celebrated. “I had a nice, private dinner with the Wife and Son. We don’t really believe in celebrating birthdays in the Roy family.”
(The truth is a few years back The Wife tried to have a surprise birthday party for me and 3 people showed up. We wound up with a lot of leftover barbecue. She vowed never to do that again. She has kept her word.)
I tell you this story for the benefit of all the teenage nerds in the audience. Sometimes it’s hard to be a young nerd and some people will try to make you feel better by telling you that some day the popular kid will get old and fat and bald and his cheerleader wife will long since have left him and he’ll be poor or working for you as you sit on top of the world with the millions you’ve made as a successful nerd in the real world.
Don’t believe them.
P.S. I bet my birthday cake was more awesome than Jay’s.