Where to start? The beginning is a good place I guess. It may take me a few thousand words to get to the past weekend, but I’ll get there. But, the more and more I thought of it, there’s a lot of this that needs to be said to get me there.
And, I have an uncanny memory of all things Pingry. It’s actually a bit scary. You saw some of it at the party. I remembered some weird shit (I’m looking at you, Priscilla (who thinks I’m certifiable after what I told her))
**Note to classmates: If I call you out by name, you fucking deserve it. It’s my blog.**
I got to Pingry in September of 1986. I was 12 and I was in 7th grade. I’d just survived 2 years at the Gill St. Bernard’s School in Bernardsville NJ. I’d been pulled from public school after 4th grade. Lucky me.
How was Gill? Well, I remember a few things. I remember no one liking me until I punched Lance Becker in the face while away at Blairstown (yes, Pingry folk, the same place. I’ve been 3 times). I remember one marking period having a 100%+ average in all my classes. I never answered a question wrong on a test all marking period and I got all of the extra credits right. Why? I was scared not to. My parents had put the fear of God himself into me.
So, 7th grade started and I went off to Pingry. I was somewhat fat, I knew no one, I could tell I didn’t belong, and I stuttered. Oh, it was good times. I looked different from everyone, sounded different from everyone and just didn’t fit in.
In October of 1986, I nearly suffered a breakdown from the stress. I was pulling an A/A+ average in all my classes, was competing against people who did the same without trying (I’m looking at you, Sam, Steve, Mike et al.) and was a full-on loser-nerd. Cool kids used to heckle me and try to beat me up. My friends in Basking Ridge wanted nothing to do with me. It was not fun. Swimming made some of it OK. I was always good in the pool, fatass or not, and I could earn a little respect there. I met Mrs. Lee, who would be my coach for the next 6 years, and life was a little better. But, the crushing stress still existed. I was not happy. Kids should not be this unhappy.
The final marking period of 8th grade, I failed to make the honor roll. My parents were mad. I still had the whole swimming thing. I still had no friends. Well, maybe you can count Al, but, as we all know, Al said nothing. Frez was there too. And, as always, there was Jess. But, the people I’d become close to were not yet really in the picture. I remember when Allan Donnelly (Sorry, not at the reunion, I use your last name) beat up Dean in study hall. I remember not doing anything about it. I was glad it wasn’t me. Sorry Dean.
9th grade. A lot of new people came to Pingry for high school. I had a new locker neighbor (Hi!). I still had no friends. I was on the Varsity Swim Team. I did well. I earned a stripe or 2. I was still a chunky little bastard. I still stuttered. I kissed Melinda. You don’t remember, but I do. It was at our Peer Group party after Winter Sports Night. We were playing Spin the Bottle. (JewelrySlut doesn’t even know that)
Jess was still there. Julie Belladonna started at Pingry that year. Yes, faithful readers…she’s her.
10th grade. This may have been the nadir of all things Pingry. I’d been there 4 years and still had no friends. The 1 I had stabbed me with a fork. I still have the scars; entry and exit. I failed Chem. “NoGoodDaddy tried, but it didn’t work…F” That was a grade report written for me. How do I remember it? How could you forget it? Sam stole my grade on the chem. game. Things were still bad. I had Mrs. Grant for English. She was cool. Jess was there.
11th grade. This is when it changed for me. I started to grow into who I am. I remember asking Jess to Homecoming. “What will people say?” “Who cares? We’re friends. It will be fun.”
On November 15, I was 5’9 or so and weighed like 190. 1 month later, I’d lost 35lbs and grown what seemed to be 4 inches. How do I remember the date? Swimming started on November 15. FatNoGoodDaddy was gone, NoGoodDaddy was born. I was king of the fucking swim team. Lane 1 in practice, leading off. The team swam at my pace. Don’t believe me, fuck you. I was suddenly good at something. And, deep down, a fire started to grow. A fire of assholeness and self confidence grew.
Suddenly, I was becoming more of a group. As long as Villanova lost, I had potential. Then, I got asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance . Jess was mad. She asked me “Who am I supposed to ask?” I kicked serious ass in the pool. My grades were starting to suck, but I no longer cared. I’d been told by my mother that no matter what I did, I was going to Rutgers. I went to Pingry. All I had to do was graduate on time to get into Rutgers. They needed me more than I needed them.
I met ***July 29, 2009 Edit (This is what happens when you blab your blog to Facebook** TheGirlWhoWouldGrowUpToBeAMotherOfTwins. Oh boy. I had a girlfriend. That changed it all. I was suddenly more confident. I had a girl, a few friends, and with the help of people like Sam and Hemant, I got elected to the Student Council. Did we cheat? Hell yea we did. We cheated our asses off to get me elected. I remember Mike and Sam with piles of ballots. But, I was there none the less. Josh Connor was going to have to talk to me. Josh was a cool kid. I was not, but I was forcing my way into the conversation.
12th grade. It’s 1991. Senior Year. I was captain of the newly-formed Water Polo team. I still had a girl (albeit a lunatic) attached to me. I was part of a group. It was now Sam, Mike, Steve, Rob and Al. I may not have had a car, but I had a Claude and that was good enough. My grades sucked. My SAT’s were good enough.
I think, looking back, I may have started to disappoint Jess. I didn’t care. I was in the conversation. My enormous ego was only swelling.
I punched Dave Anderson in the head. Not because he told a room full of people that Heather blew me while I was driving her home one night, but because Julie had been in that room in Blairstown and she had looked disappointed. Dave, that was some cowardly shit and I apologize. You still held my lap numbers after that and I respect that.
I swam. I once held 3 records at Pingry. 1 individual and 2 relays. That’s just what the ego needed. I got to the final heat at the State meet. More ego stroking.
I got laid. As Nate once said “I’m 17 and I’m getting laid.” I was and I was.
“It’s great to be a Miami Hurricane!” 2 words: Constantine Popa. **Steve…how could you forget? Sam remembered.**
I was living my piece of the Pingry dream. I may not have been a cool kid, but I was close and, more importantly, people knew who I was. The funny thing was that nobody asked me to be that person. But, I’d taken the bait and had the hook in my mouth.
I was awful.
I got drunk at Josh’s house. KT taught me to drink water when you drank too much beer. Good advice. It was June 6 or something, 1992.
I had a week off at home.
We went to Bermuda.
I came home on Saturday June 27th.
On Sunday June 28, I went to Day 2 of camp orientation at Hi-Hills Day Camp. I’d missed Day 1.
I met her.
PingryNoGoodDaddy started to die.
The person you all met the other night was born.
He’s a better person.