Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Ten-Year Reunion: Part 1

When what was clearly a Mexican taxicab showed up outside my door in Chatsworth, Californina, I knew Michael Schulty was back in town.

It was actually my mom’s door and it was actually parked at the end of her long driveway, which had recently been repaved in a somewhat Mediterranean style that employed rocks shaped mostly like Batman’s logo. And Schulty wasn’t so much back in town. He lived about twenty miles away in Brentwood. Still he was back in the Valley. But not really back. More in the vicinity for a few hours to attend our ten-year high school reunion. He said he had to be home by eleven. His wife was pregnant. And that was their deal.

There was no horn in the cab, which would cause me a mild angina later, so Michael decided to open and shut a door until I came out. And when I did I was transfixed on the body of a car I knew well. Like a body of an old lover in a dream, real again with dents and all.

It was still our baby underneath all the blue paint that gave it look the tint an unfinished go-cart. It was Schulty’s Oldsmobile.

The same Olds that he bought with an overripe five hundred dollar Savings Bond that his grandma had sent him. No one had the heart to tell her that he’d cancelled his Bar Mitzvah, he didn’t realize they were serious about him “memorizing shit.” Inside that car, we were heroes. Protagonists. We had nicknames. I was Leapfrog McDermitt and he was Cal. Just Cal. How we dreamed of being even more cultureless then.

There it was. The Hoop-D. It was in that legendary car that we carried out what we called the “missions” of our youth. Assignments we gave to ourselves whenever life was boring, in the same way we'd look for advice with girls by randomly hitting presets on the radio. Missions like tracking down parties we hadn’t been invited to in gated communities that gansta rappers allegedly lived in, finding new shopping malls that were filled with blond girls who didn’t know that we didn't play football ever and racing anyone who took the constant revving of a 1983 Oldsmobile as a challenge.

When the Hoop-D was stolen outside of Dodger Stadium the August before we all left for college, it was an official end to our childhoods, the good part of it at least. That’s what Schulty kept saying. I’d never seen him so down. I’d never seen him down at all, actually. He bought a nice robe, made of some very nice towely material and wore it twenty-four hours a day. But it didn't work. He spiraled. Spent two weeks in a drug rehab center since his parents didn’t want him going to an institution before he went to Yale. And at Yale he became someone else. Joined Hillel, a Jewish frat and lengthened his family name “which had been neutered for generations” back to Schultenstein. He became a different kind of hero then. The kind that knew everything about getting rich and did it all very fast.


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