Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The League realizes maybe he's not such a great guy

So today I stumbled across a familiar face from grade school on Facebook.

I hadn't spoken to this person, whom I shall call "Lesley", since 9th grade, as best I can recollect. We'd lived about three streets apart while I was growing up in Austin, had been in classes together in Elementary School, attended Middle School together, and had art together in 9th grade (possibly more classes, but I recall Lesley in the art class).

With such camraderie during our tender, formative years, and with the lunch hour of 5th grade to wax rhapsodic about, I sent Lesley a friend request.

It seems that while I have fond memories of Lesley, the feeling is not mutual. In fact, it seems Lesley's memories are of a person who was a bit of a thug to her for several years of her adolesence and for whom she feels a bit bitter.

I know. You're thinking, "League, you're totally an awesome guy. How can this be?"

Oddly, just a few weeks ago I was complaining to Jason and Jamie that I used to find more things funny, that I'd lost my edge and sense of humor.
"If you mean being a jack-ass," Jason nodded, "Then okay."
I was horrified. "Sir," I said. "Clearly you have your facts wrong, and I demand satisfaction."
"You, my friend, were a rotten little punk growing up."
"You've clearly mistaken me with someone else," I insisted.
And then he unspooled a whole reel of outtakes from my teenage years which, while interesting stuff for the DVD extras, don't really fit in too well with the narrative I'm working with here at The League.
"You and your little crew were a bunch of snot-nosed punks," he concluded. Which was not the same conclusion I'd come to regarding my youth, but few would not find his evidence compelling.
"People knew we were kidding," I dismissed the accusations with a wave of the hand.
"Did they?"
My brow furrowed. Upon reflection, it did seem possible that making someone cry wasn't particularly funny to everyone involved.

And so it came that, while I do not believe I ever made Lesley cry, I did not make the relatively awful experience of middle and high school any better. In fact, it seems, your faithful League is in no way remembered fondly by his former busmate. And yet, somehow, Steanso IS remembered fondly, which I think is a scam.

I put it to you, Leaguers... Is it possible that I am not the absolutely gallant person, friend to the children, and kind hearted servant of the people that I think I am?

Could this be?

Well, apparently, yes. Some evidence suggests, I'm a big old jerk when given the chance.

So now I feel terrible. Growing up in suburbia has its pitfalls to begin with. I'd walked around thinking nothing but good things about Lesley for two decades, while, it seems, not so much love was coming back The League's way.

Tragically, as I remember it, part of what Lesley felt to be harassment, I recall as good natured heckling, feeling she was in on the whole gag, playing the straightman to my wise-cracking self. Not so.

How The League saw things

How "Lesley" saw things...

I want to be clear. I didn't break Lesley's glasses or anything.* I did once blackmail her into making me and Peabo lemonade. And, I know I'd picked a not-so-great nickname for her which I will not relate (but it was always meant with love). And, I am sure, as we shared a bus stop, I came up with all sorts of awful ways to make the fifteen - thirty minutes per day waiting for the cheese to sweep us away something that was not to be looked forward to. You can't expect everyone to love spending time with me.

But, honestly, I'm horrified at this turn of events and am a bit ashamed.

So, now I tiptoe a delicate line.

Does The League put forth an effort to make amends and set right 20 years of bad feeling, or do we merely leave Lesley to her peaceful life, free of The League and his nagging insistence that we can all be pals? Can The League set things right?

And who else is walking around with a less than loving memory of The League? And how can I make amends to those folk? HOW?

Only time, and Facebook, will tell.

*That was some other kid whose glasses I broke.


Anonymous said...

You were an insufferable brut of a man, whose scoffings did cast on me no small amount self loathing and depression.

Your insolent smile, and heinous laugh still echo in my head to the point I cry myself to sleep.

Damn you. DAMN YOU !!!

Unforgivingly yours,

Former Driver of Bus #65

The League said...

Uhm. Yeah. We were kind of jerks to our bus driver, too. In fact, we wrote a whole song about him that we'd sing on the way home.

But he also let us jump off the bus one day while it was still moving and nobody was watching.

Bus 65 Crew RULZ!!!

Anonymous said...

The ladies loved to make Peabo his lemonade. Don't feel bad about that one league. You did that little lady a favor. I'd bet me some Teddy Grahams that when she glosses over that memory in the old diary, her fingers fumbling over the pages, she still gets a little quiver in the legs thinking about that hot, sultry afternoon....the kind of day where the humidity makes your shirt stick to your skin a little......where her leomn frosted fingers nervously clasped that cold glass, outreaching it to my sweaty firm hand, my fingers touching hers as we pass the glass between us. I winked. She smiled. The glass came to my lips. I was refreshed. Peabo likes his lemonade.

No. No sir. That was a good day indeed.

Damn, I'm thirsty now.


The League said...

Oh, sweet jesus...

Anonymous said...

Seriously though, I am really curious to know who this Lesley is. For the life of me I can't think of who this might be. I was thinking it could be Nick Rosset, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't offended or intimidated by us. For goodness sakes, she stole my bike in broad daylight and wouldn't get off til I pointed a scattergun in her grill.

Look I'll be the first to admit we were insufferable smart asses. Not exactly an uncommon indictment for adolescent boys ages 11-15. I don't think we were cruel by any stretch. Annoying, sure. But at the end of the day we were just out to make each other laugh. We didn't go after anybody. You pretyy much had to come after us before we fired back. There probably was some collateral damage - the remark made in private that was overheard, and maybe a few lines were crossed and some feelings got hurt along the way....but you know what ? Big F'n deal. That was middle school. It's young boys and girls trying to interact and find out who they are and trying to find the nerve to be true to what is right and good in the face of peer pressure and bullies, and cheerleaders, and jocks, and stoners, and all the other labels that just seem to be waiting for you at the front door waiting to attach themselves to a bunch of unwitting 6th graders.

To this day I can still remember K. Metchin and J. Mills just destroying poor J. Kruzel on the first day of school on 6th grade as she got on the bus. Fired off a one liner that had the whole bus laughing. Thank goodness I had already made it to my foxhole/busseat and didn't get in their crosshaird. Luckily I had an older brother next to me, or I could've been taking shrapnel. But you know, I became good friends with Kruzel in high school and she ended up as a self confident, very intelligent, college athlete with a full ride, and I doubt she still holds any hatred or grudge against a couple of guys who would self admittedly tell you they walked the halls of middle school and high school with the ability to flame-throw insults with the best. And you know what, I know those guys a little post-college, and they're pretty normal nice guys.

So, what is the point to my rambling ? You shouldn't feel bad for one second. I knew the League better than anyone not named Steanso from 4th to 9th grade. You were a good egg. In fact I doubt if you canvased and polled every person you came across that remembers you during those years, you would grade out with over a 99% approval rating. My numbers on the other hand may be closer to Bush's exit numbers, but that may be somewhat deservedly so. But we weren't cruel assholes. We were smartasses, with the ablity to into jerk-mode if needed, but for the most part we were just a coupel of wise guys with mediocre athletic ability and an equally mediocre ability to impress the ladies.

Unless it was lemonade day.


Anonymous said...

I obviously meant to say "I bet if you poll everyone you would grade out with above 99%" not
"I doubt"


Anonymous said...

Okay, one more and then I gots to go to bed.

True story. 8th grade. Bus #65, the afternoon route home. Bus driver's name was Bob. Somewhere during the school year, an unlikely song writing quarter was formed in the back 3 rows of bus 65. It was undoubtedly the sweetest, coolest ride cruisin' the hills of Canyon Vista MS, but it was lacking something. A theme song. Something we could all sing with pride and moxy as we rocketed home on the yellow dog. The League had the idea to set it to the theme song of Mighty Mouse, which I am pretty sure the League was the only one who knew said theme song. A fe minutes between such brilliant minds was all that was needed to pen a masterpiece that soared off every tongue as soon as hit the last speed bump out the parking lot.

"Here she comes bus 65
Rounding corners at 55
But don't be afraid anymore
He won't drive now like he did before

Here she comes bus 65
Rounding corners at 55
He's not a Hoser not a Nob
So let the Bobster do his job"

20 years later and I can still remember it.
Sad. I know.

But one spring day when they had to crowd an extra bus load onto ol' 65 due to another bus breaking down, we got to hear 40+ pubescant punks singing that anthem as we rolled out of the parking lot, and I swear,....just for a second....I saw ol' Bob crack a grin.

It was glorious.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't this a recent episode of 30 Rock?

The League said...

It was. Only, I don't remember it as anyone being horrible to me. I thought we all got along swell.

Anonymous said...

Lacking from your post is her response to the friend request. Did she deny it? Accept it? Ignore it? Did she bring your former poor behavior to your attention, or was it Steanso who reminded you of it?

If she brought it to your attention, I would write her a simple note apologizing for the past rudeness and note that although you were a knave you have fond memories of her and leave it for her to proceed. If she did not acknowledge you or your request, I would let it lie and hope that she has not found this post (unless it is your secret hope that by writing this you can apologize to her indirectly without having to do so directly).


The League said...

I think teh friend request is still pending.

She did bring my former poor behavior to my attention. I did not honestly recall my poor behavior until she made mention of it.

I have written her back, apologizing. And I understand if she has no interest in "friending" me. After all, after 20 years, what's the point? I would not have time for me, either, I suppose.

Part of me is absolutely horrified, while the other part is more stupefied at the workings of the adolescent mind/ how we interpret those scenarios before we have the tools to properly manage the situations and read people.

What's most difficult is that I'm willing to allow this person to set the parameters for if/ how she'd like closure. Because, as always, I'm up for whatever. I'd like to think that if I've wronged someone, I can be honest enough to make amends.

But I strongly suspect that I can expect radio silence.

Dug said...

I'm comfortable with the fact that I used to be kind of caustic / hard to be around. I first realized it in college and went through a period of shame about it, but that was long enough ago that I can now just think of the younger me as an alpha version, more selfish, more insecure, more angry. Hopefully soon you'll be proud that you grew out of that phase instead of upset that you were in it.

Most people have some experience like this. Just saying "hey, I now realize how I was coming across, back before I grew up a little. I'm sorry." might be effective if Lesley is one of those people. It might not make you into BFFs, but you have no control over that. All you can really do is say how you feel.

J.S. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The League said...

Hey, I did apologize, team. And I'm well-adjusted enough to say that, at best, I tried. So, what are you going to do?

The League said...

Hey, I thought I was putting Steanso's comment in queue so we could talk offline about what some stuff that's a "read between the lines" thing private matter, but I accidentally erased the damn comment. And as I'm not about to start censoring now...

here you go. Enjoy.

From Steanso:

By the way, in my defense (which is all but pointless on someone else's blog), I don't recall the conversation between myself and The League in the same way that The League is portraying it. I don't recall launching into an assault on The League's childhood so much as I was simply trying to correct The League's characterization of himself as a helpless victim of scorn and ridicule as a child. The League's wife had been fed stories which left her with the impression of the "childhood League" as an abused, whimpering, Gollum-like creature whose life consisted of little more than scampering to stay out of the way of Steanso and his parents as he quietly tried to do all of his homework and tend to all of the Steans family's household chores, and that he was afraid to raise his voice because of the frightful whippings that he would receive as he secretly struggled to feed homeless orphans and provide nursing care for indigent senior citizens. Anyway, I just thought that Jamie might be getting the impression that The League was some helpless, abused whipping boy as a child, and I sought to restore the balance by pointing out that The League was well known far and wide for being one of the world's greatest smartasses while seated at the Steans family dinner table (I literally had friends who liked to eat at our house just to see what would come out of The League's mouth next), and that The League and Peabo were widely known in the halls of our school for having the ability to inflict some humorous and creative, but nonetheless devastating attacks on people (and there wasn't a whole lot most people could do when they fell into Peabo and The League's crosshairs, especially since The League was about a foot and a half taller than most of the other kids). Anyway, I think 95% of that stuff was just good natured fun, but it's worth noting that the butt of many of the jokes didn't really get a choice about whether they wanted to participate. I don't think that The League was a bad guy growing up at all, but he certainly wasn't just a victim who spent all of his time getting picked on by others. That was the potential misperception that I was trying to correct.

Anonymous said...

While re-reading the original post I had a flashback to yesteryear. No, seriously. I now can vaguely remember you having a nickname for this Lesley. What was the nickname ? I can remember you calling her that and her kind of giving you a look of disapproval, but in a friendly way. I am 99% sure this was the League's ackward way of flirting (you know, we pick on the girls we like). Heck, I was guilty of the same behavior. But I bet you money her memories abotu you are attached to that nickname, which although innocent enough, she probably despised.

Having bee informed of the identity of Lesley I can testify that she was a real quiet girl, kept to herself, but not in a nerdy, withdraw recluse way. She was just one of those girls who kind of seemed to have her own thing going on, and kept to herself. She was nice and would say hi, but is the type of girl you wouldn't know anything about and then find out she's dating a HS guy while we're in Middle school.

However, outside of the nickname the League had for her (which I can't remember), the League was always a nice guy to her from my memory.

I think this is poor form to throw back middle school behavior into somebody's face 20 years later. I mean it isn't like you were giving her wedgies every day or beating her up and throwing rocks at her dog. She's like freakin' Steve Buschemi from Billy Madison.

Anonymous said...

This is only tangentally relevant, but I tried to 'friend' a girl from high school a few weeks ago, and she's completely ignored it. I wasn't mean to her, nor was I friends with her, but we knew each other and had a few classes together. I guess what bothers me is that I have friends on Facebook that I don't even remember existing, but this girl doesn't even give me a token Facebook friending.

The point of all this is that it stings a little when someone denies your friend request.

Michael Corley said...

First, the groucho/vader mix up was awesome.

Second, when my wife confronted some of her childhood tormentors they too said, "We thought you knew we were just joking!"

Third, I was never "that guy", but I was the coat holder to many of those guys. Soooo many times I could have stood up to the person shooting spit-wads into the hair of the fat girl, or the guy making boob jokes in front of the crying girl. I don't think I ever did, and to this day I am ashamed. My spine came in late, but better late than never, I suppose.