Real Heroes Get Drunk and Self-Pitying

For a couple months now, I’ve been seeing my high school English teacher at the gym all the time. This sucks. If you ever see your high school English teacher at the gym all the time it means you need to reassess your life goals. And get a tougher gym. Anyway, after studiously avoiding her for weeks, I decided that if I was a high school English teacher and I saw a former student, I would understand why they were avoiding me but I would also feel bad. I wasn’t even sure if she recognized me (I’ve gotten a lot fatter and hairier since those days) but I figured that in the event that she did I was being a dick. So finally I went up to her one day. She played it pretty cool, recognizing me for sure but making it seem like she only started recognizing me when I talked to her (well played, Mrs. Derbenstein!). Anyway, in spite of the obvious soul-crushing questions including “Are you married? Are you in love?” asked in rapid fire succession, she also told me that she had just brought me up in one of her classes the previous week because I continue to be the only student from my high school who was ever allowed to publish a story about suicide in the high school literary journal (take that My Chemical Romance). Apparently it was the only story about suicide that ever will be published in the high school literary journal. I have closed down that subject. I am a goth legend.

Anyway, so this weekend I am talking to this kid at the bar who is a senior in college in the same film program I took in college. I am telling him all about how I hated the film program because all the kids in it were entitled, self-aggrandizing mediocrities. I tell him about how I went abroad my junior year and then when I came back I was in this film production class where I didn’t know anyone, but they all knew each other and the professor and had these high-powered Hollywood internships and stuff. I told him about how at the end of the semester I won the “Best Picture” award at the end-of-term screening, which was a nice FUCK YOU to those fucking competitive shits who were such big fans of the work of Paul Thomas Anderson. I tell him that the movie was about Superman. “I’ve seen a student film about Superman,” he says. “Was it split-screen?” I ask him. “Yeah,” he says. “That was me,” I say. “Well,” he says, “they’re using it as an example in film classes now.”

I know what you are thinking about this post. You are thinking that it is a self-congratulatory piece of nostalgic navel gazing. And it is. A little. But actually, it’s a document of depression. Because after that kid told me they were using my film as an example I spread my arms wide and yelled “Yup, here I am, on top of the fucking world!” I have become the creative equivalent of the high school football star who becomes a cop and still hangs around town, trying to capture that golden glory. Except that I’m not a cop, and I didn’t even get to fuck any cheerleaders back when I was in my prime.

So if you see me in the street, please, remind me of something worthwhile that I did ten years ago, that was apparently way better and more valuable than anything I’ve done since. Oh, and then fucking bludgeon me to death.

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