Saturday, May 31, 2008

Books and Covers

As I've mentioned, I've been spending way too much time on another blog having a virtual reunion with all of my buddies from the mid 1980s San Diego music scene. It's been an amazing experience reliving an amazing time and place.

One of the threads was on what we are doing now with our lives. Now, in order to appreciate this, I have to set the scene. Pretend it is 1984, around 2:30 in the morning in a back booth at a scuzzy little Denny's restaurant in downtown San Diego. In this booth are a motley bunch of teenagers - one guy is dressed in 19th century garb complete with cravat and top hat, another looks homeless with crazy hair and shoes that are more holes than leather. Two of the girls have short, dyed black hair, earrings that touch their shoulders, mini-skirts with black tights and wayyyyy too much eye makeup. There is a really tall red-headed character who dresses vaguely like Ronald McDonald on skid row and another red-headed guy with glasses and several days worth of stubble. The others at the table follow the same pattern - some of the boys with funky shoulder-length bob haircuts and others who look vaguely homeless. Tattoos and noserings are visible at a time when it wasn't so common.

You watch this group take over the back of the restaurant, noticing that everyone orders several cups of coffee, french fries and gravy or biscuits. As they sit there for the next several hours, talking about music and who knows what else, cigarettes are passed around the table and the blue haze of smoke gets so thick that their waitress, Rose E. Rose (seriously, that was her name) has to make her way to the table at her own risk. As you leave your tip, you shake your head thinking that most of these kids will overdose, become alcoholics or on welfare before they turn 25. From all appearances, you'd be right.

Except you're not. We were not angels, but as this is a blog related to kidlit, that's as much as I'll admit to. The most amazing thing that I've taken away from this reunion is that most of us are doing surprisingly well in our adult lives. Lots of us have gotten married and had kids that are not only normal, but in many ways, exceptional. Many alums of this scene have gone on to fruitful careers:
Matt R. has a high-falutin' career in publishing
Matt J. is a Federal Public Defender
Eric is in demand making custom guitars
Ray has been a successful high school teacher for 20 years
Dave F makes digital audio (if you've ever bought a Leapfrog product, you've probably heard his stuff)
Jerry (the boy in the top hat) works for Microsoft
Dave R works as a diplomat for International Development in Kenya
Pat owns a successful photography studio
several of us are writers and Paul does something with digital music that I don't really understand.

So many of those motley teenagers went on to have amazing lives that contribute in so many ways and touch so many people. Think about that the next time you're giving the stink-eye to that group of goth kids on the corner. You just never know.

On this date: In 1859, Big Ben goes into operation in London.

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