Monday, June 04, 2007

Do You Need Anybody?

In Which I Forgive Kenyon College for Making a Man of Me

On the drive out to central Ohio for my 25th college reunion, it became rather urgent that I obtain a copy of Sergeant Pepper to play very loudly in my car -- my copy seemed to have taken a bunk from my CD shelves. The day of the drive was the fortieth anniversary of the release of that earthshaking album, and since the weekend was to be dedicated to wallowing in nostalgia, the proper musical accompaniment seemed incumbent.

On the way to a record store in a shopping mall in Martinsburg, West Virginia, I walked past a shop that catered to the fashion needs of the Urban Gentleman -- oversized baseball caps meant to be worn sideways, enormous throwback basketball jerseys -- you know the thing. In the window a rather raffish porkpie hat stopped me in my tracks. I must have that hat!

And have it I did. It occurred to me that the thing might occasion a nice little joke: I imagined my classmates whispering behind my back, Oh Jesus, look at poor Jingo -- he's gone bald as a billiard ball on top and he's wearing that ridiculous hat to disguise his shame; that's just pathetic! Cue me removing the thing to reveal my Crowning Glory, a full thatch of luxurious hair without a single streak of gray.

Old Kenyon, scene of most of my social and sexual humiliations

Arrived at Gambier, I ankled into the old bank, now the registration office for the returning alumni. I announced my name to an assistant at the desk, and was immediately floored when Rory Mach, registering at the next table over, cackled, "Neddie who?"

Rory is absolutely one of my favorite human beings in all of the world of space and time, with a marvelous, ever-ready great booming laugh that makes you feel glad to be alive. I had no idea he was coming -- and he likewise had no clue I was to be there. We were once so close that it's quite possible that our first children were conceived on the same night, after a bibulous dinner at a nice restaurant outside Washington. The kids were born within hours of each other. Time and distance and natural laziness on both our parts have drawn us apart, but after this weekend I will move heaven and earth to make sure that's no longer true.

Rory Mach and Offspring. No -- seriously. Her name is Offspring.

Rory and I got to yacking, and I mentioned my blog. He asked the name, and when I told him, he said, "You're Neddie Jingo?" Turns out the sumbitch was lurking at NewCritics, with no idea who I was. Now he's posting there as well, and has recently started a blog of his own. In a world of -- what are we up to now? eight billion people? -- and even given the self-selecting and self-referential nature of the Blogosphere, I'm calling this coincidence nothing short of a miracle.


People. A congenital misanthrope, I don't like a lot of people. But Matt's comment on a recent post of mine was a perfect description of the weekend: "the connections I invariably make with people whom I hardly knew when we were in school together." While in the Old Days I knew most of the folks in that little kaffeeklatsch above (actually, it should probably be referred to as a wasserklatsch), it's really only been since graduation that I've come to know and feel affection for them as friends rather than classmates. I also met many new friends, and filled in some blanks with people I'd only ever met online -- Will Divide, for example, is as charming in person as he is in email, as is Axiomatic Apricot from the Chumps.

Ascension Hall, scene of most of my academic humiliations

My fraternity, the Peeps o' Kenyon (motto: "Purity and Accuracy" -- which should give you some idea) survives, if all its mural artwork does not. Some absolute gooberhead painted over the mural reproduction of the Grateful Dead Steal Your Face album cover that greeted visitors in the foyer of Old Kenyon. I really enjoyed the little two-inch-high graffito that replaced it, though:

Two nights of fairly hearty partying did take a bit of an emotional toll on your correspondent. Sunday morning, a twinge of melancholia already setting in, I regretfully packed up the effects and motored off homeward. Again, I thought it incumbent to leave campus with Sergeant Pepper blasting at top volume out of the windows of the car. I grinned a grinny grin and set my porkpie at a jaunty angle as the windshield rattled: "It was twenty years ago today..."

But wouldn't you know it -- I'd forgotten about the second song. That damned second song!
Do you need anybody?
I need somebody to love
Could it be anybody?
I just need someone to love...

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Oh, I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends...
I'm afraid I blubbed a bit.

Rory, Nick, Abby Abigail, Chris, Tor, DeeDee, Chucker, Joe G., Kyle H., Elise B., and everybody else I forgot to mention -- next time, let's all do this:


thestoic said...

You've got it just right -- old friends become new friends with a couple of years (as well as a few inches) under their belts.

It was indeed a blast -- although I'm afraid that Offspring has seen the scales fall from her eyes!

The question is -- how has Neddie remained so well-preserved? Must be clean living!

Neddie said...

Offspring was (and I suppose still is) marvelous, old cock. I enjoyed her company very much. Well done!

The question is -- how has Neddie remained so well-preserved? Must be clean living!

Ah, well, you see, there's this painting of me that I keep in the attic, you know, and it does the aging....

thestoic said...

The aforementioned appendage is a bit aged, now you mention it.

glue birl said...

That's so great you had such a wonderful time, Jeddie. And really cool about your friend, Rory.


Is that woman on the lawn, to the right, in the white tank top twirling a pizza?

Neddie said...

Is that woman on the lawn, to the right, in the white tank top twirling a pizza?

I'd been wondering if anybody was going to ask. Yes, that's Abigail E., conducting her world-famous traveling seminar, "Pizza As Metaphorical Construct," in which pepperoni and extra cheese are considered as postmodern subtextual embonpoint.

(It's a fan. It was a hot day.)

Anonymous said...

Jealousy and remorseful rage at not being there:

I don't wanna kill my china pig
No I don't
Uh man's gotta live
Uh man's gotta eat
Uh man's gotta have shoes t' walk out on the street
I don't wanna kill my china pig...

Mainly jealousy...

coleminer said...

Neddie, I didn't know you wrote so well. I will enjoy visiting your site as often as possible.
That painting of you Neddie hangs in my house. It does not age. I remember well when that moment came that I had to capture. You were relaxed, serene. I wondered what you were contemplating and indeed that was what I sought in the painting. The answer could have been a million things. So even though this was but just a second in his life Neddie spoke volumes in his eyes which continues to this day.

Will Divide said...

Plans are to do something about that Steal Your Face Glyph at P2K8. Mad fun meeting you too, amigo.

'Till next time. . .

pufsexuu I think sez it all.

Kevin Wolf said...

I loved hearing about this, Neddie, though I know not why beyond the wish that a good guy have a good time.

I can't even begin to imagine a comparable event at my old school. We are not, um, in touch.

My high school 25th is on the horizon, though, and the very thought fills me with nameless, Lovecraftian dread. Again, I'm not sure why.

Neddie said...

Coleminer! Dude!

Take a picture of that panting and send it to me, willya? That's not something I want to forget.

Kevin: There's a HUGE difference between a high-school reunion and a college one. I was flippin' miserable in high-school -- the teachers who taught me weren't cool (to coin a phrase), and the students were a clique-y, dull bunch of toads. High-school isn't self-selecting, is I guess how you'd put it -- it's mandatory for everybody, and most of the people are there because they can't be somewhere else. In Kollitch, they're there because they want to be there, and they've got demonstrated talents, interests and abilities. They're the ones who go on to be interesting people -- many of them, anyway.

I wouldn't attend a high-school reunion at gunpoint.

Kevin Hayden said...

I dropped out of every school I attended precisely to avoid alumni appeals and comparative decayfests. So NOW I learn that some are actually enjoyable?

Damn. Where's my Pell grant app?

sakthi said...

Hi Neddie,Its wonderful that you and your friends are gathered in a 25th college reunion.But my friends are not even turned their heads for 2nd year of college union,We were only 6 members attended the function..
Breakdown Insurance