I am prone to romance and whimsy. A good example might be the recent Friday evening when Beth, me, and my roommate Ardalan were sitting on my green couch and the subject of yearbooks came up. Ardalan is from Iran, he said they don’t have yearbooks there, in fact he had no idea what we were talking about. Beth and I gasped! Yearbooks are the quintessential artifact of the American high school experience!
Since we’re both hams, we jumped up and began acting out the scenario of having your yearbook signed. “Hiiii Bethy, would you like, sign my yearbook?” “Sure, Eriny, we had a killer time in Honors English!” Ardalan laughed, but I wasn’t satisfied, so I went to the bookshelf where I keep every yearbook since the 7th grade and grabbed one for each of us.
We enjoyed the silly (“I signed your crack” ((you know where you write in the book binding?)), the obscure (“I hope you have found nature in your concrete home”), the sincere (“Erin–You’re the only person in Amnesty International who’s doing it for spiritual fulfillment, not for a college application, you have a good soul”).
A page of my junior yearbook stopped me in my tracks. Someone had sketched me a mermaid, a lovely piece done in pencil, with the caption “Remember: Pinball’s not that bad compared to a raw ass-kicking.” (???) They signed a name and left a phone number, but I can’t read the name. Who had sketched me my favorite mythical creature? Years before I claimed the brazen sea goddess as my talisman, before I got a tattoo of a mermaid while being reckless in NYC? As I said, I’m prone to romance and whimsy…soooo…I called the number.
The phone rang 5, 6, 7 times. I was very nervous. Beth and Ardalan were holding their breath. In my heart of hearts, my soulmate was on the other line. A boy I’d briefly known in high school, but who’d seen the real me. He’d answer the phone (in my fantasy he’d bought the house from his parents, and kept the number in case I found his yearbook sketch and called him). It was the most epic meet-cute of all time! I was naming our third cat when the phone clicked. “Hello?” A man’s voice.
“Hi…Did you graduate from Douglas High School?”
Disappointment. “Do you have a son? Anyone at this phone number who might’ve drawn me a mermaid in my yearbook?”
“You’re a maid service?”
I explained the whole situation to the man, that I’d found the sketch and was looking for my possible long lost love. We talked for twenty minutes. He suggested I put an ad in the newspaper or post fliers around town. His name was Frank. He wished me good luck and we said good-bye.
Beth and Ardalan pounced the second I hung up. What did he say?? I relayed the dead end, then sat lost in melodramatic thought. Mermaid sketch artist, are you out there? Tell me something good…