Sunday, January 14, 2007
The Dawn Wiener Files: Twenty years later and he's still a geek
The Dawn Wiener Files is a new CPW series in which I will share painful stories of my moments of childhood geekdom. Unfortunately, sometimes these moments stretch all the way into adulthood. But I know you all enjoy a good cringe-fest, or else you wouldn't still be here.
Guest editors are welcome in this series - just email me your submissions and we'll talk.
I was prompted to post this first edition of The Dawn Wiener Files by some work colleagues who were discussing high school reunions with me recently. My 20th reunion occurred a few years ago. I could not attend because I was going to be on vacation in Europe, but still enjoyed a lot of email and Internet hubbub over the event.
One day in a grocery store near my parents' house, I was walking past a woman who looked my way and said "Tom?" I didn't recognize her. I haven't lived in that area since I graduated high school, and am only around sporadically.
"Hello..." I said, ever so hesitantly.
"Tom, it's Marissa, from Palatine High!"
"Oh, Marissa! Hi!" We hugged briefly. I finally recognized her - we had been in the same class from fifth grade through high school.
I was glad to see Marissa, because I liked her and we'd always gotten along well. But our very casual friendship crossed cultural lines; she was squarely rooted in our high school's popular crowd, whereas I was definitely well on the outskirts of that group. And although Marissa had never personally been mean to me, I always viewed her as an ambassador of the cool. A person who could make or break you with her extensive network of social connections. The type of person who has to be handled very, very carefully.
We chatted about our lives and the upcoming reunion for a few minutes, and decided to exchange email addresses since I wouldn't be attending. We both searched our pockets for something to write on, but neither of us could find anything.
"Wait a second, my husband's right over there. I'll see if he has something," she said. A few seconds later Marissa returned with her husband in tow, and made the appropriate introductions. "Hey, give Tom one of your cards so we can trade emails," she said.
Marissa's very handsome husband opened his wallet and handed me a card. "Great!" I exclaimed, happy that we would each be able to write down our emails. I proceeded to rip the card in half so that I could give her the other half.
Ripped. His card. In half. Just seconds after he handed it to me.
Nice going, Tom.
A split second after my little gaffe, I haltingly mumbled "oh.... I guess.... maybe I could have just emailed your husband....."
"I'm sorry I ripped your business card," I said sheepishly. I was mortified.
"Oh, that's ok. I'm sure people have done much worse to it," he replied, magnanimously.
What an asshole. Twenty years out of high school and I still can't play it cool. I still wonder what Marissa must have told the rest of her A-list friends about me.
Yours in geekdom,
ps: For anyone who is wondering, I did email Marissa's husband. And never heard back from either of them.