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....."

She giggled.

"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.


Anonymous said...

That's why I don't like high school reunions: it reminds everyone of those awkward labels that they once had and oftentimes people still relate to us in that way.

Coaster Punchman said...

I wouldn't know because I haven't been to any of my reunions. I was told that the 20th is the first one that is supposed to be fun - that everyone finally relaxes and stops trying to impress each other. I hope mine ends up like "Peggy Sue Got Married." With the fainting and everything!

lulu said...

I think I might have been the person that told you that. My 10th was terrible, way too much showing off and bragging, but 20 was great.

Anonymous said...

wait a minute, she peaked in high school, so now she's got a hot husband?! why is this fair?

ps: it's her loss. it was very generous of you to email her in the first place. good for you, cp!

Tumuli said...

Even just six years removed from high school, I know I won't ever be returning for reunions or the like. The entire run was akin to "The Breakfast Club" on crack.

Anonymous said...

I spent more time thinking up a comment for this post than it took for me to decide whether to go to my reunion. I didn't because of my fear of people tearing apart my one great achievement since school - getting a business card. Dawn Wiener rules!

Anonymous said...

I have had those moments of lack of social coolness skills. like last night when I watched all the stars arrive at my hotel for some big gala and seeing john travolta made my heart rate go up and then russell crow yelled at me for talkign his picture

Anonymous said...

Well, at least you don't have to go back the next day and look at them!

Coaster Punchman said...

Katie, this particular gal, while being cool, was still nice. That's actually why I'm so mad at myself. If she had been a bitch all along I would think it's funny. But I can't even be cool back to the cool kids who are nice to me. That's what kills me! (Someone else told me her husband probably thinks I'm a dick and never passed on the email to her.)

Coaster Punchman said...

Probably, Lu. I'm in the habit of taking all important life advice from you.

Tumuli, BC on crack - that kills me! That I would love to see, and I'd go to your reunion for you.

Dale, be sure to give me your hard-earned business card when I see you. Obviously I need to practice the etiquette of receiving one.

Dino, I'd better hop over to your blog and (I hope) see what this gala affair was all about. You're luck Russell Crowe didn't clock you one.

Old Lady, true. But I'll always have this cringy memory to keep me company, and I will still have to look myself in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

Cringy memory indeed! You poor thing, with the tearing of the card and then the hot flush up your neck...I'll send some of my extra cards with Dale for you to rip up. :)

Coaster Punchman said...

Thanks Tanya, I'll start practicing now with my own!

Anonymous said...

I am so pissed (on your behalf!) that she never wrote back! WTF?!?!

Anonymous said...

I am so pissed (on your behalf!) that she never wrote back! WTF?!?!

Anonymous said...

I am so pissed (on your behalf!) that she never wrote back! WTF?!?!

Anonymous said...

I am so pissed (on your behalf!) that she never wrote back! WTF?!?!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Mombi's really pissed!

Tenacious S said...

I still don't have a business card. I feel inferior.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Dawn Weiner, have you watched Todd Solondz's other movies? Some weird, dark shit that still manages to find some humor. Dollhouse was the first one I saw. Palindromes is really fucked up, from what I remember.

Anonymous said...

Geez, CP, what's your damage? Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast that day?

Coaster Punchman said...

Just let it all out, Mombi. We are here for you.

I know Dale. It's not the first time CPW has drawn out that type of emotion in readers!

Well you just keep on with that Master's program you're working on, Ten-S, and you'll have plenty of business cards for me to destroy!

Chris, I don't believe I have - but your comment has piqued my interest intensely. I will check them out.

Megan, fuck me gently with a chainsaw!


wonderturtle said...

I think if she stopped you in the store, she should be responsible for the e-mail followup. All the magnanimity belongs to you in this instance, CP.

Grant Miller said...

I've always believed you were the Ambassador of Cool, CP.

Anonymous said...

and maybe he lost the card before he even got to his computer.No have always been waaaaaay cool to me. This from Patty Duke :):):):):):

Anonymous said...

We all think you're cool at our house. Luna thought you were so cool she used her mouth to try and drag you back so that you would pet her some more! Horses don't know or care about the difference between the cool kids and the geeks. Now that she is the only horse we have left, we're sending her to live in a boarding stable. No horse chores in the dead of winter was an overwhelmingly attractive prospect, worth spending $325 per month, $375 if not paid by the first of the month. It was 6 degrees at our house this morning.

Hello to jake's mom, whom I assume is your sister.

Your Cousin Cathy

Beth said...

Oh, darlin' ... I can so trump you on nerd stories. Read this and this.

jin said...

Gotta agree w/ should watch his other films.

I know I've seen them all, but I always screw up which story goes with which title.
(Except for Palindromes & Dollhouse.)
Palindromes was THE most fucked up one of them ALL!
You should probably watch that one last. But you should probably watch them all! lol!

Coaster Punchman said...

Wonderturtle, maybe you're right, but I'm still an ass. And not even proud of it.

Wow, thanks Grant. Unfortunately it's not a paid position.

Lost his own card Sis? Maybe...

Hi Cathy - I actually think Luna was mocking me for being so stupid as to turn my back on her. George still berates me for that, although it was really sweet of him to chase her away after she bit me. And yes, Jake's Mom is Marg.

Beth, you merely made fun of a gimp and looked like a gimp to royalty. These are not the kinds of things that get your entire high school class gossiping about you.

Will do Jin, thanks for the extra recommendations.