The day before I was supposed to go over to the apartment one of the show’s producers and a camerman came out to my place to interview me. I assumed that it was to find out some background information, which it was. She wanted to know whether or not I had enjoyed high school and in general whether or not my experience was positive or negative, etc. There were a few bumps in the road but hell, everyone had experienced them – mine were nothing special or unique. I had 10 years of post graduation to mature and get over them.
“Are there any people that you’re hoping to avoid at the reunion?” she asked.
“Yeah, the seven people I’m about to room with” I said, laughing.
“Oh really. Why?”
“Actualy I’m just kidding. I don’t really know, and I never really did know, any of the other people that I’ll be living with for 5 weeks. So personally I don’t really have any problems or issues. I haven’t kept in contact with a whole lot of people from school and I’m really looking forward to seeing my classmates again. I know I’ve changed a lot so I know that some of the assholes could be really cool now, and some of the people I had good times with could be assholes. In general I’m looking forward to this whole experience because I haven’t done anything like it before.”
“But you like having an audience, don’t you” she stated, smiling, more than asked.
I let out one of my belly laughs. “Now who told you that?”
“Oh, a little birdie. No, seriously, I read that you were in a couple of musicals and from what I heard from your fellow cast you had a great time.”
“Oh, to say the least.”
“Do you still participate in anything musical or dramatic?”
“Yeah, my life!” laughing. “Baby, I haven’t done anything like that since school. Once I went to college I was pretty serious about my studies and never took the time to do any plays or musicals. Maybe someday I will again,” I said smiling.
By the way, I call everyone “baby.”
“What about karoke?”
“What about it?”
“Have you ever sang karoke?”
“Who hasn’t? Ok, I wasn’t that serious in school. Sometimes my friends and I’d get tanked at a bar that had karoke and I’ve been known to break out into song. Just to be goofy, whatever.”
“So you still like to entertain.”
“Oh hell yeah.”
“Will you be doing much entertaining in the studio?”
“Well, I guess it depends on how much liquor y’all have supplied us with” I said laughing.
She laughed a bit. “I guess we’ll supply as much as we need to make things interesting.”
“Oh, I’m interesting enough.” Mike the Ham to the rescue.
“Ok, now more high school questions….”
“Don’t you think most of them will be answered during the show?” I asked.
“Well we need to have some material for little spots here and there that we’ll edit into the show.”
“Did you date a lot in high school?”
“Please. Have you ever seen pictures of me at that time?”
“Actually I have; you weren’t that bad looking.”
“Yeah, for a corpse. Honey, I had a mirror – I know what I looked like. And no, I didn’t do a lot of dating. I went to dances with girl friends, but that’s about it. I mean who was going to date me – let’s not try and fool anyone here.” Plus I’m gay…..
“So you had girlfriends.”
“Um….no. I had friends who were girls.”
“Got it. Who were some of the people that you really hated in school?”
“Geeze, you’re scraping for dirt aren’t ya” I said, half-joking. “What does that matter now? I mean you’re not the same person you were in high school, and neither are the people that I didn’t like. Like I said before ten years is a lot of time for people to do a lot of changing. I’m not going to rehash a lot of bad memories or hurtful times for the sake of ratings. Sorry!” I said, smiling at the camera.
“So you have a lot of bad memories.”
“Well, not a lot. But hello! I’m human so yeah I have some bad ones. Mostly good ones though.”
“If you could go back and change anything about school what would it be?”
I had to sit and think about that one. “There are times in everyone’s life when some people aren’t so nice to other people, and I’d change the strength that I had, physically and mentally, to stand up to bullies, assholes, etc. But then again, didn’t going through some rough times have an impact on and influence my life? I’m sure that it did, somehow. I don’t know” I continued, looking down, “maybe I wouldn’t change anything. I just look at all of the great times that I had and hope that somewhere in time there were people that I was involved with who took something positive from their experiences with me.”
“Sounds pretty mature.”
“Well, I’m not 15 anymore.”
The producer had some more questions and then they finally wrapped things up. Thank God! I was getting sick of her questions. Why couldn’t people figure out the answers when they watched the show.
“Oh by the way,” she said, “we’ve decided to extend the show by three weeks.”
“Do what?” (That's Southern for "what?")
“Yeah, we thought it might be interesting to see how things went after the actual reunion party.”
“Well, goody gumdrops! Eight weeks in an apartment with seven other people. What if they smell?”
She just laughed.
“And how about their work. I’m a teacher so I have the whole summer off but most people don’t have that schedule.”
“Well, that’s where the twist comes in.”
“If I told you then there wouldn’t be a twist, now would there,” she said with a smirk on her face.
“Welp. I guess not.”
So that was finally over. Thank God! It’s not like it went bad or anything, I just wanted to get back to packing up the last few things before I left in the morning. I had really psyched myself up for this adventure. Yes, I was sure that it was going to be an adventure.
* * * * * * * * *
“Awwww shit!” I hollered as I looked at the blinking "12:00” on my alarm clock. I knew I should have put a backup battery in the damn thing. Dumb ass. It started raining the night before, right after the folks from the reunion show had left and I guess the power went out sometime during the night. It was still raining outside so there was no real sunlight to try and figure out exactly how late in the morning it was. I grabbed my watch: 9:45. Oh hey-ell naww. I really wanted to get my homely ass there early so I could meet people as they came into the “studio.” I hurried into the kitchen and grabbed a quick bite to eat before I started my shower. It felt great and I wanted to stay a while but figured I better get going. It was still going to take 45 minutes or so to get down to midtown. In Atlanta, it takes 40-50 minutes to get everywhere, even to the nearest Kroger. I was in too big of a hurry to shave so I got dressed – jean shorts and a polo shirt. Leather sandals. Probably not smart for rainy weather – oh well! I did a quick run through the apartment and made sure what needed to be off was off, and what needed to be on was on. I had a couple of lamps set on timers; never been gone anywhere for 8 weeks before. After making sure I had my bags fully loaded (bathroom crap, lube; you know – I’m a guy) I opened the door, stepped out onto the porch and stopped.
Standing out in the rain in a poncho or slicker or whatever you call them was a camerman. “What in the hell,” I said.
“The only thing that I can tell you is that I’m to film you on the way down to the studio.”
“Why? You gonna get lost or something?”
He just stood there with his camera aimed at me. I made a face at the camera and said “Shit-ass; you could have at least gotten me up this morning” laughing a bit. I usually laugh whenever I say something, especially when I’m talking to people that I don’t know, ‘cause I never know when they’ll get my sense of humor. My friends know that I’m a real sarcastic bastard, but they say it’s a part of my charm.
I didn’t think I’d ever get to I-75, and heading downtown was easy – for about a minute or two. It seems that whenever people drive in the rain they have a bizarre tendency to remove their own heads before going out on the road. There were like three wrecks between Smyrna and Atlanta, which when added with rain added about twenty more minutes to my drive. Finally, I hit the connector (that’s where I-85 and I-75 come together in the city) and exited at North Aveune, near Georgia Tech. I crossed over the connector, zigged and zagged to Ponce De Leon and headed east toward the factory/apartment. By the way, nobody in Atlanta pronounces that name correctly, which is “Pon-say day lee-own;” we pronounce it “Ponce de Lee-on.” Most of us just call it “Ponce”.
Back to the story. Wait. Should I describe myself here? Oh, alright, you’ve convinced me. I’m 5’11”, weigh about 180 and have hazel eyes, brown hair and I sport a goatee. I keep in shape by not eating a lot of shit and jogging.
Ok, now back to the story. I know exactly where the factory apartments are where we’ll be living for 5 – make that 8 – weeks, and head over there. I spot the old Sears building and know that I’m almost there. Parking for the factory is in the rear, or south side of the building. Dude, there’s nothing like an Atlanta summer rain. Your car fogs up quite nicely when it’s really muggy outside, which it was. The rain had started to pick up and now it was also thundering and lightning. Lovely.
“Grab a bag?” I ask the camera man. The camera stays on me. “Great.” I take a deep breath, blow it out and head out into the malestrom known as an Atlanta storm. I ran around to the back of the Jimmy, opened the back and grabbed my bags. At this point I’m completely soaked and cussing like a sailor, out loud but to myself. I close the back and almost trip running into the camera man. I really had to start remembering that he was there wherever I went. As I headed toward the building I remembered to set the alarm on the Jimmy and turned around to aim my remote at it. I ended up backing into a cameraman, but not mine.
“Dammit y’all!” I said. I started looking around to find my camerman, spotted him a few feet away and then walked right into a wall. Or at least I thought it was a wall. Quickly I saw that it was a person and for a second I thought it was the second cameraman and was saying “What in the Goddamned hell….” when I noticed that it wasn’t him at all. It was the person he was following.
It was Scott Dell.