More of my missed memos
I confess that I’ve never been a particularly bright guy but it seems that I’ve spent an awful lot of time wondering about things other people seem to accept. Over the years I’ve often started noticing things that everyone else seemed to already know. Many times I’ve wondered if other people feel this way or if my name was left off of the big distribution list in the sky … there must be some reason I always miss the memo.
When I was in elementary school, I think I was absent the day that they held an assembly and told everyone that boys had a say in how our hair was cut. My old man had always taken me to the barbershop and told them to give a flattop. I happily got my haircut and the barber gave me bubblegum. I never thought about it because it was a win-win situation until I found out I had missed a memo.
I just started noticing the other boys at school were wearing their hair longer and teasing me for still wearing a flattop. Heck, I never even got the memo telling us we were supposed to care about haircuts! It seems my dad never got the memo either because the first time I told him I was going to grow my hair out, he took me to the barbershop, had them shave my head and kept my bubblegum. I hate it when that happens.
I’m sure I was absent the day they put out the word that it was OK to like girls. My friends and I had avoided girls like the plague forever then, out of the clear blue, my buddy Charlie was holding hands with a girl at recess! This really threw me for a loop because Charlie was one of the cool kids and had obviously gotten an advance copy of the memo.
In junior high (for those of you under 40, junior high is what we used to call middle school) I missed the memo that explained that the word “party” could be used as a verb. I was labeled irreversibly uncool after this conversation took place in the hall at school:
My friend: “We’re going to party with James this weekend.”
Me: “Cool, James is having a party this weekend!”
My friend: “No, we’re just going to party, man.”
Me: “Will there be cake? Should I bring something? Where does James live?”
My friend: “Forget it dude, you’re hair’s too short anyway. Don’t tell anyone I told you.”
Me: “I wouldn’t have come anyway…those stupid party hats are lame.”
I ate lunch alone after that until we moved; eighth grade can be brutal.
Somehow I completely missed out on the lesson that women speak an entirely different language after puberty. When we were younger and if your girlfriend was mad at you, she’d call you a jerk and punch you. It was always very clear when you did something wrong. Then they took the girls out of the classroom and taught them secret powers while they showed us old football movies. After that nothing was ever the same again.
The first time I asked my high school girlfriend, “What’s wrong?” … she answered, “Nothing.” I actually believed her! No one had told me that from puberty on when a girls says nothing is wrong that means something is definitely wrong and when she says nothing at all that means your in deep poop but when she talks constantly about what’s wrong with you that means everything is alright!
I paid dearly for missing that memo for a long time; right up until I was…oh I don’t know … what day is it?
We live in an ever-changing world and I’m always a step or two behind. I thought things were keen when it turns out they were groovy, by the time I figured that out groovy things were boss then boss things were cool. For a while it was great to be hot, then it was even cool to be hot and, while it was no longer cool to smoke, it was both hot and cool to be smokin’. My head hurts.
These days I wear what I want to, get my hair cut when I remember to and I haven’t seen a memo in decades. I still don’t understand women, and I never did get to party with James … but that’s cool with me.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.