I had to go in for a sleep study last night -- I've been suffering from some pretty overwhelming fatigue, and Mr. Bean says I keep kicking him at night, so it made sense to check for things like apnea or restless leg syndrome.
As I was answering questions for the technologist, she stopped and looked at me. "I know you! We went to school together!"
I get this question all the time from people; I have one of those faces that reminds everyone of someone that they know. I am almost never someone from school. At least not their school. This time, however, it turns out we did go to school together; she graduated with my younger sister.
This made me cringe a little inside.
I try hard not to think about high school. I was as awkward, and frankly as obnoxious, as any character from Glee. I had a small circle of friends, and a significantly larger circle of detractors and tormentors. It wasn't as bad as middle school -- nothing is -- but it's still not a time I'm keen to return to.
Then she kept talking. "I'm sure you don't remember me. I hung around with Jim's younger sister, Heather. You were always with Jim and Dave and the rest of the cool theater kids and the swing choir and you were always on stage. I wanted to be just like you. I used to sit in the prop room and listen to you sing."
"Me? ME???? You're kidding, right?"
"No. You just always seemed so confident and you had so many friends."
The truth of the matter was that I was always in fear of the next taunt, of losing my lines, of Jenny, and Jean, and heaven-knows-who-else, who were always waiting for me to fail so they could move in and take my part. I was afraid that, at any time, Jim and Dave and the rest of the cool theater kids would decide that I wasn't cool enough for them anymore. This would happen periodically. I was always on the fringe of the really cool, talented kids group, for all that I used to pull down the lead roles in the musicals. So I compensated by never really engaging with anyone. I didn't remember this girl, apart from her being part of the cloud of friends who hung around with Heather. For all I knew, I might have treated her like dirt, in an attempt to assuage my own insecurity.
I swallowed hard. "Was I ever mean to you?. I was a total brat sometimes in high school."
"No; you were really nice to me. You always said thank you and you encouraged me to keep singing. Gawd, I mean it; you haven't aged at all since then. It's kinda scary."
"Well I'm not so sure about the aging thing, but I'm glad I wasn't mean to you. Because you seem like a really good person." I went on to tell her about what was going on with several of the kids she had graduated with; that Heather had opened a couple of very successful cafes here in town, that Tracy was living in Phoenix with my very cool brother-in-law, that Angie had lost more than 100 lbs and was an athletic trainer.
During this whole time, she was putting electrodes on my skin, in my hair, behind my ears. I felt like I was on The Machine from Princess Bride.
It was a fairly miserable night. I couldn't get used to the electrodes or the belts or the other devices she put on me. I also had an infrared camera and a microphone on me all night long, with her in the next room. So there I was, facing a night of subjecting someone who apparently didn't recognize what a total dweeb I was in high school to my snoring, my sleep talking and the nighttime functioning of my digestive system.
I had a sleep disorder alright: I didn't sleep. Not sure what they'll learn from this.
But I'm once again reminded that every experience can be different, depending on your perspective. I'm also reminded, yet again, that it is more important to be gracious than it is to be popular. And probably some hackneyed rot about making one's words sweet or something like that.
"I need applause to Live!"