TBS: Throwback Summer

Summer time is upon us. It is time for BBQs, sundresses, sunburns, baseball, The World Cup to save us from having to watch baseball, and television summer event series used as a ploy to keep you inside to keep the commercialization machine moving. I thought it would be nice to join in on the fun with a summer article series of our own. TBS – Throwback Summer. I’m going to hop on Don Draper’s Carousel, anyone whom doesn’t get this reference saddens me, and revisit my life, not in polaroids, but in Facebook pictures. At first I thought about doing the classic list and rank my top 50 favorite Facebook pictures, but then after going through them all I decided it would be an impossible task to choose a favorite. Instead I’m going to go in chronological order and tell the story behind each of my favorite photos. Even if you do not know me or any of the people involved in the photos I hope you find the stories entertaining and the process educational. There are a lot of pratfalls to having Facebook, but the one constant positive is having a digital vault of photos to access our past any time we want. Let’s get started with my oldest Facebook photo.

Halloween 2006.

Halloween 2006.

Okay, so it was a bit of a white lie, this is not the first photo ever taken of me, but the oldest one to survive all the constant Facebook updates and format changes. It comes to us from Halloween 2006, my senior year of high school. As I mentioned in my article, I’m Done Giving A Shit, last week I was a scared little sheep in high school. All I cared about was being cool and having people like me. It affected my life both socially and academically. I wasn’t happy cause I wasn’t being me and my grades suffered tremendously my Freshman year. I received the only C of my entire life Freshman year of high school, Integrated Science. A major reason why I was able to avoid falling deeper down the rabbit hole and seriously messing up my life was the group of friends that I made starting in my sophomore year.

We were a group of misfits without a home until we decided to make our own. These guys made high school an enjoyable experience. I felt comfortable to be me, the goofy, sometimes slightly weird, and nerdy me because I knew that they would still like me. Not all of them are in this picture, but it still captures the essence of happiness they gave me. First of all take a look at me, far left. Is that a face? Or a billboard for a game of connect the dots. I was going through a terrible acne phase in 2006, from Summer through the Winter. I tried all the over the counter medicines, didn’t work. I let an acupuncturist convince me she was the answer, all she did was stab my face with toothpicks for an hour and leaving it bloated, bleeding, and still loaded with acne. While acutain gets the ultimate praise for defeating those damn pesky red dotted bastards, it was my friends that gave me the confidence to still go out and enjoy a night like Halloween, while my face dressed up as a Pepperoni pizza.

The other great thing about my friends is that we shared similar traits, in this case procrastination. Despite my best efforts to convince myself that this is the year I get ahead of the game and come up with the perfect Halloween costume, I always end up scrounging in my closet the day before or even the day of Halloween and coming up with some half assed costume. That year I had company as we all showed up as “Tom Cruises” from various movies. I was Top Gun Cruise because I put on my Dad’s old leather jacket and wore aviators.

Standing next to me is my fellow real life Tom, McCaskey, as Jerry Maguire Cruise. Tom and I have have the most similar senses of humor out of all of my friends. The biggest jump between numbers is two and three, at least when it comes to friends. There are very few people with whom we can carry one-on-one conversations with for an extended time. In a group of friends there are always people that you’re close to within the group setting, but when you’re stuck alone you strain to come up with a topic of conversation and pray for another friend to show up soon to relieve the awkwardness. This never happens with Tom and I, there are a few others that can tie him, but nobody that beats him. We can talk about anything and always keep each other entertained. I miss having him around to lighten each other’s mood and hope some day to live near each other again.

Next to him, center front, is Mike Juettner, aka Mikey The Jet, Last Samurai Cruise. I had a lot of enjoyable experiences with The Jet, top of the list would have to be Mark Buehrle’s no-hitter against the Texas Rangers, April 19, 2007. But the first thing I think about when I hear from or see him is our constant competition. We competed and most often argued over everything. I’m a highly argumentative guy, I’ve covered my reasons for this before, but Juettner is the only person I’ve ever known who matches my love for competitive banter. We spent entire lunch periods yelling back n’ forth over varying topics. Our most popular one was who should be the Bears’ starting QB, Rex Grossman or anyone else. I was on team Rex and he was on team anyone else. Our arguments carried over to every pickup game we ever played against each other, which was a lot.  The most famous was when he called a charge against me in Attic Basketball, which was played with a Nerf Ball and a Little Tike hoop. We tore into each other for the next hour, ruining the evening for the rest of our friends and then did not speak to each other for the next week out of anger. I miss having my fellow combatant around. It is special to have a friend where you can rip into each other endlessly and still be cool with each other, even if it takes a week apart some times. 

Behind Juetner is my shortest in height, but longest in length friend Brian Borah. He is the only one not dressed as a Cruise, but rather just simply a fisherman. Ive known Brian since kindergarten, scarily that means for 20 years. Although we have not always been friends for that long, as my first attempt to befriend him ended in disaster as I dunked him in a pool for so long that he thought he might drown. What was supposed to be a friendly action led to him being scared of me for many years to follow. It was not until about the 6th grade that we started hanging out a lot, but really it was the fact that we went to the same high school together that made us become so close. Before that I was best friends with my two next door neighbors, but since both of them went to the public school, while Brian and I went to the Catholic one, I stopped seeing them.

I would’ve thought that going to different schools wouldn’t stop next door neighbors from hanging out, but it did. The silver lining was that it allowed Brian and I to become best friends in high school. He is the most interesting person I’ve been friends with a true savant at everything he touches. It was intimidating at times to be friends with him. But since he lived the closest to me of all my friends I spent an absurd amount of time at his house. His family became my family, which was nice because he had six siblings to my one and as a kid that dreamed of having 21 siblings it was nice to get a few more. It was always an enjoyable challenge to be friends with Brian, he operated on a different plane than everyone else and what was difficult for me came easy to him. Out of all my friends that helped me grow out of my sheepish ways, I have to give him the most credit. It was nothing that he said, but rather his actions that inspired me. Brian was always comfortable being himself and it was difficult to not be motivated around him.

To the left of Juetner and Borah is Joe Daly, Juwanna Man Cruise. Yes, we know that Cruise wasn’t in Juwanna Man, but it is funny to imagine if he were. Really Joe just wanted to wear the jersey of his true love, Tracy McGrady. Joe had the worst luck of anyone in our group. He always seemed to be getting in trouble for this or that and spent a lot of time grounded. But I have to hand it to Joe he was in trouble a lot cause he loved to have a good time. He was a fun-loving guy who brought a lot of joy to our group. The energy always picked up when he was around. I probably spent the least one-on-one time with Joe out of all my friends. It was a combination of meeting him later than most the others, him living the farthest from me, and all those groundings. As such I’ve lost touch with him the most of any of my friends. From what I hear, he’s doing well, has been in a relationship for a few years, and enjoying Chicago. I miss having a guy like Joe around. It is always good to have people who want to have a good time around, to lighten the mood and lift your spirits.

And finally on the far right, we follow the person I’ve been in the least contact with to the person I’ve been in the most. Billy Kirland, my roommate and fellow Millennial Man founder/editor in chief. You’ve all gotten to know Bill through his own articles, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Billy was our leader in high school, a role which in he both relished and thrived. We would have wandered aimlessly and never organized ourselves if not for him. He was like our Mance Rayder, but instead of bringing together warring tribes, he brought together apathetic, procrastinating, sarcastic teenagers and turned them into something more. The traits that made him a great leader in high school have not disappeared over time. I count myself lucky to not only still be friends with him, but also live with him and start a Production Company with him. There is not enough thanks in the world to Billy and the rest of my friends from high school. They helped me become the person I am today.

My other close friends not pictured will pop up as this series continues and I look forward to telling you how special they are as well. One final thanks before I bring this article to a close, thank you to Hope Holmberg for hosting the Halloween party at which this photo was taken. I went to school with Hope, or Hopie as she was affectionately called, for 12 years and there is not a person with a brighter personality that I’ve met in my time on this Earth. She had an infectious smile that light up any room she entered. The last time I saw her was on a train from Indian Hill station to downtown Chicago. It had probably been two years since I had least seen her then, yet she still greeted me with the warmest of hellos. The morning train ride into the city could be a depressing bore, but the times I was lucky enough to share it with Hope made it much more enjoyable.

I know that a no person is Disney Princess happy all the time, as Hope made herself appear. I regret not getting to know her more, to know when she was sad or mad, and to know how to cheer her up as she did for so many. Life moves in one direction, but it is nice to look back and think about the people that you’ve met. The one’s you respect, the one’s that make you laugh, the one’s that can draw out a passionate argument from you, and the one’s that brighten your day. By looking back and having regrets of not appreciating them more, we can be better prepared for when we meet new people with the same traits. There are a lot of reasons why I hate Facebook, but having this amazing Time Machine to hop into and enjoy the past makes it worth keeping around. Thanks, Mr. Zuckerberg.

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