Tuesday, January 15, 2008
A Surprisingly Misty Trip Down Memory Lane
So tonight I accompanied my son to his high-school orientation night. He is in Grade 8 and deciding what high school he wants to attend. One of them is my old high school. Not just mine, but the high school that my parents and grandparents attended. He is interested because he's a jock and it's a big sports school, even though it's out of our neighbourhood.
So we went and it was so weird being back in that building. For one thing, I dream about the school so often that I instinctively knew my way around like I'd never left. There were still three -- THREE!!! -- teachers teaching there who had been on staff when I was a student. My name was up there painted on the wall, one of 21 Ontario Honour students of my graduating year (not bad considering about 1,200 kids were in attendance, but I did take easy courses -- two histories, two Englishes and two languages, as my older brother, who took all maths and sciences, never fails to remind me.)
But the oddest thing of all was how I suddenly got weepy sitting in the auditorium remembering my dead friend Dave.
My dead friend Dave was Ferris Bueller quite a few years before Ferris Bueller arrived in theatres. In fact, when my friend Fritzi and I went to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off, shortly before Dave's death in a plane crash in 1986, we looked at one another in astonishment as the credits rolled and said: "OK, so that's Dave."
He was charming, he was cocky, he was adorable, he was insanely silly (once stripping down and putting on our one-piece Danskin bathing suits and modelling them all despite his bits hanging out) and all the chicks loved him -- which meant many of the guys didn't. Female teachers adored him and so did all our mothers. He even had a sister who resented his popularity. We knew of the devil that lurked within, however, since we'd been friends with him since Grade 4. I got weepy, in fact, remembering how he ran successfully for student body president and then was impeached not long after for some sort of T-shirt scandal in which he and his friends were pocketing some of the profits.
It was his constant flirtation with trouble that ended up leading to his demise, in fact. At 21, he got in a small floatplane in the Muskokas with a friend who was under the influence -- Dave probably was too -- and after the friend started attempting to do tricks with the plane, it hit a boathouse. Dave died, the wealthy friend survived, and my friends and I were confronted with the first real and terrible grief we'd ever known. It was brutal. And all of us still think of him and dream about him a lot, because he was the type of friend who would have still been in our lives today if he hadn't stepped into that plane with a hotshot 22 years ago this summer.
Anyway, my son looked at me like I was completely insane but I didn't tell him why I got emotional. He thinks it was from seeing my name painted on the wall, not from having hilarious, and ultimately wrenching, memories come back to me sitting in that auditorium and remembering the glory days of my own Ferris Bueller.
"Bueller ........ Bueller .......... Bueller ......... Bueller ........"