A technological phenomenon that has managed to successfully undo years of effort, by millions of adults, to forget the crap they did in high school.
In doing so, it's taught us that old wounds do eventually heal.
In the past two years I reconnected with my old best friend from high school, who married my pseudo-boyfriend, later came out of the closet and divorced, and apparently, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, has re-emerged happily married to another man. I also got back in touch with my best friend from college, who I spent several years trying (finally, successfully) to split from after she announced that my then-new husband was an abuser.
Okay, maybe she was right, but that's another story. My point is, there was a time when we hurt each other badly, and now, twenty years later, we're finding that the hurt is gone.
Since I'm writing about Victor, you'd be in your rights to assume that we reconnected over Facebook. The weird thing is, he's not on there. In fact, he's nowhere on the internet at all. He doesn't even appear to have an email address. Weird for someone who has a PhD (I'm assuming he has one; he was working on it when last I saw him) and doesn't appear to have dropped off the face of the earth.
Then there's little Charlie, who apparently really did drop off the face of the earth. I didn't really expect to stay friends with Charlie after high school, not because I didn't enjoy his company, but because he's in a very fundamental and somewhat separationist religious sect. I never heard a thing from Charlie after high school, and always assumed he was living in Fresno with a wife and twenty seven kids. Hey, more power to him.
Last year, Charlie showed up on Facebook. Turns out he never did marry; he had, in fact dropped off the face of the earth. More accurately, he had spent the last twenty three years doing missionary work in a distant, undeveloped country, and had returned to our home town to take care of his aging mother.
Not two days after Charlie friended me on Facebook, he asked me what ever became of Victor.
Heck if I know, dude. Look him up.
He asked me if I would do it.
Come on, Charlie. You do it. He lives in the same town as you, I'm halfway across the country. Look in your mom's phone book.
I wouldn't know how to approach him.
Ummm...it would be a local call. Pick up the phone, tell him you're back in town after spending 25 years in Ridiculoustan and would love to meet him over a couple of beers and catch up on stuff. I'm sure he'd be thrilled to hear from you.
I'd be too embarrassed! (Wait...you mean you spent 25 years baptizing savages, and you're embarrassed to call an old high school friend? Yeah...you're crushing on him too, and you won't admit it. Come out of the closet, already).
No way, dude. You want to see him, you call him. (I am sooo staying out of this.)
So that was that, I hoped. I had to spend a couple of days doing some serious dredging-out-old-feelings detox, but I figured I was in a good place.
I can't really explain the rest very well, other than to say that it seems everyone I ever talked to in my home town always had something to say about Victor.
From my friend Mark: Victor's kids are in my kid's 4-H group.
From my brother: Guess who walked into my shop yesterday? Victor!
From my mom: You know that pretty Victorian house on Bridge Street? That's Victor's house!
The weirdest one is from a friend, Nancy, who is co-owner of one of the only actual employers in my home town, which is more well known for B&Bs and renting beach buggies than software development. She only moved to town a few years ago.
So Nancy called me about a year ago, which is surprising because we only talk about once a year.
Hey, you know Victor Eyecandy?
Well, we went to school together. I haven't seen him since then. Why?
He just got a job in our Sales group!
Oh, jeez. I always had this secret hope that someday I could get a job at her company, move my family from our fair city back to my hometown, and spend my days working at a desk with a view of the Pacific. So much for that idea. No way am I going to do that with Mr. Blast from the Past just down the hall.
Oh, ummm....cool. Well, tell him I said hi.
He's probably bald and fat by now anyway.
Yeah, I will. Dang, he's really good looking! Tell me you dated him.
Nah. We were just friends.
Too bad. He's delicious.
I saw Nancy a few months ago. I was out in home town and my mom and I met her for lunch. For some bizarre reason, my mom wanted to talk about nothing but Victor. Sure enough, they hadn't even brought out the salads when she piped up with So Nancy, how's Victor?
With a wry smile, Nancy replied: We fired him.
Oh, really? Why?
He was awful. I've never met anyone so self-absorbed in my life. He did no work, and expected everyone to think he was Gods Gift to Mankind. I don't know what we were thinking when we hired him, but he sure made a good first impression.
Oh, sorry. I don't mean to chuckle at someone else's misfortune. It's not that at all.
It wasn't until that moment that I realized just how much I was missing out on. So far, you see, I've been afraid that talking about him, or even listening to other people talk about him, was going to dredge up old feelings. It wasn't until that moment that I realized that those feelings hadn't existed for years; that my desire to look him up was no more intense than my desire to look up any other face from my high school yearbook. It was nothing but curiosity.
So I started to listen, to engage.
With my mom: How nice that Victor lives in that house. It's so pretty, but I wonder why they'd want to live in a house that gets so much attention.
To my friend in 4-H: What are his kids like? How is his wife?
To my brother: What kind of motorcycle does he have?
Here, in a nutshell, is what I learned: Victor is a control freak who hasn't held down a job since he was laid off from the university three years ago. They have four children who they home school; as charming and personable as their parents were in college, the kids are socially awkward and have no friends. The charming house has been in foreclosure twice, only to be rescued by his mother. His wife, the bully, does not work, drive, or have any activities outside of her husband and kids. She is completely controlled by him.
I guess he's still good looking, or so I've been told. At least on the outside.