Thursday, January 19, 2006

Song for Adam

When I was back home last month, my mom and I dug out my old high school yearbooks. Really, why? Why did I do that? Is it really necessary? I might have broken a bone or two from all the cringing.

But I'm surprised by how much has come back to me, and how well I remember most of the people who signed my yearbook. The best friends always had a page reserved for them. The good friends got half a page. I hated signing the yearbooks of the people more popular than I was. I liked to head straight to the back, where all the blank pages were, but it always seemed that every single one of those pages were reserved.

"Reserved for Susan."
"Reserved for Lisa."
"Reserved for Kelly."
"Oh, here, this little corner? Yeah, I think that's open. Sign there."

I did the same thing, but I don't think I ever had more than two pages reserved for someone else.

Most of the messages in my yearbook were variations on six different things:

"The Cure rules!"
"Your parents need to mellow."
"We need to hang out this summer."
"Have a good life!"
"Have a lousy summer!"
"Maybe I'll see you sometime!"

At the time, I figured that I would see so many of these people again, that we'd keep our promises to hang out over the summer, that phrases like "have a nice life!" were just jokes. We were such close friends. BFF! Yeah, not so much.

Even Jesse, one of my best friends. He wrote a full page, a heartfelt message, and I never saw him again. Well, that's not entirely true. I saw him in a photo on the front page of our local paper. It was part of a story on a bunch of students who had gone to Africa, and he was one of them.

Toward the back of my sophomore yearbook, I saw Adam's note to me. Adam. Adam Hiteside-Way.

At my high school, Adam was this elusive, mysterious, totally intimidating figure that all the girls drooled after. He didn't look like the rest of the students, not even close. Even though he was two years ahead of me, he looked much older, more sophisticated. I couldn't picture him cracking open a book. He didn't look like he even needed to. Adam already knew the ways of the world. He'd seen it all. The only picture of him in the yearbooks is one in which he was voted "Best Dancer" in the senior polls. He really didn't seem to be for real.

On nice days, he rode a red Vespa scooter to class. On rainy days, he drove a black Cadillac. He was almost never without his beige trench coat, and his pants were always creased and pressed. He smoked Dunhill cigarettes. When my best friend, Candace, found this out, we went to a smoke shop at the mall and had someone buy a pack for us. Then we sat on a bench outside and smoked them.

"Yeah. These are Adam's cigarettes."
"I know. Weird. They're OK, I think."
"I like the box. It's so big."
"They're from England. That's so cool."
"I guess I can see why he likes them."

I never talked to Adam. I barely made eye contact. You didn't look directly at Adam. He would burn your retinas.

One day, I got kicked out of P.E. class and was sent to sit in the lobby of the building that housed the gym. When I walked in and sat down on the floor, I looked over. It was Adam. We were alone, breathing the same air. It was my big chance. Since I couldn't think of anything witty, I went with aloof and wrote in my notebook. Knowing me at that age, it was probably various combinations of the two of our names. A few minutes passed, and it became apparent that aloof wasn't working in my favor, because Adam could play that game twice as well. I was going to have to bite the bullet and talk to him first.

"Um, so what are you in here for?"
He said something back. I don't know what. You think I was listening to him? I think I sat there, watching his lips move, amazed that what he was saying was being said to me.

We traded a few words, and then it happened.

I started giggling uncontrollably. It was right after he told me how much he liked Chanel No. 5. The nerves had gotten to me and I was losing my shit. And I had been doing so well, too. I told myself to hold it together about twelve times, finally calmed down and we said a few more things, but you know, I just couldn't seem to shake the feeling that he thought I was insane.

I recovered, but it turns out, Adam was really boring. And maybe also gay. Either way, it wasn't in the cards for us. Dude was way out of my league.

Don't get me wrong, though. I still wanted his attention.

On the last day of school, I approached him and asked if he would sign my yearbook. That scene in the pilot episode of "Felicity" where Felicity approaches Ben to sign her yearbook, then stands nearby, pacing nervously as he writes what is obviously more than just his name? That was me.

Adam said "Sure," grabbed my book and squatted down to rest it on his knee as he wrote*:

Well, it's not exactly "let's hang out this summer!", but I'll take it.

* Translation: Well, what can I say, at least there's one less trendy person on the face of this black planet. Don't change -- for anyone -- Posh Boy** (Adam Hiteside-Way). P.S. Go buy a Bauhaus album or two***

** Posh Boy? Mmm-hmm.

*** It took me weeks to translate what was after the P.S., but I did have Bauhaus! If only he knew! We could have been so happy together!