Let me preface this anecdote by telling you that my mother, Rosie Beaucoup, adores 2.0. As in: worships at the altar of his awesomeness. So Rosie couldn’t be happier that 2.0 has come into
my her life, but for a time she worshipped at another altar: the Altar of David Humphreys.
Growing up, I had a close-knit circle of friends. We did everything together, and I spent a good many hours in their homes. And it was in one of those homes that Rosie Beaucoup found David Humphreys.
David Humphreys was the older brother of my friend Susan — he was two years ahead of us in school. I don’t know how it was when/where you grew up, but in my town? Two years was the San Andreas Fault of divides. I would never have even considered talking to someone who was cool enough to have been born two years before me.
David was one of the nicest boys in town, and treated all of Susan’s friends like they were real, live human beings despite the fact that he was older than us, cooler than us, AND played sports. (Boys who play sports in small, rural high schools are untouchable.)
Because Rosie appreciated his civility and athletic abilities, she decided that I should probably marry David Humphreys.
Every December I was invited to the Humphreys’ house to help decorate their Christmas tree. They took pity on me because I wasn’t allowed to touch the tree at my own house. My mother was Martha Stewart before Martha Stewart was Martha Stewart. Rosie’s magazine-worthy Christmas tree was trimmed to perfection. Hours were spent making sure every single light and each carefully selected ornament was hung perfectly, and there was no way she was going to let her kids destroy it.
Things were different at the Humphreys’ house. You could put ornaments wherever you wanted! Colour balance and theme weren’t even considered. Glittery garlands and popsicle stick artwork were featured prominently. Handfuls of tinsel were tossed haphazardly into every nook and cranny of the tree. Branches hung heavy under the weight of over-sized ornaments and lights.
Though Rosie Beaucoup understood the rules of pulling together the perfect Christmas tree, she did not understand the Rules of High School, and even if she did, she probably wouldn’t have played by them. So my tenth grade self shouldn’t have been surprised when I arrived at the Humphreys’ house for tree decorating and found my school photo in a heart-shaped frame sitting on their coffee table. Right between a punch bowl filled with eggnog and a plate stacked with garishly decorated Christmas cookies.
I grabbed Susan by the arm and pulled her into the dining room. “Where did that photo come from?” I moaned. “And why is it on your coffee table?”
Susan smiled. “Your mother gave it to my brother for Christmas.”
Kill me now.
My mother had gifted David Humphreys my school photo in a heart-shaped frame. She delivered it to his house without ever mentioning it to me. It was, according to Mrs. Humphreys, beautifully wrapped in hand-stamped Christmas paper and topped with one of the most beautiful bows she had ever seen.
As I hung a play-dough ornament on the tree, it occurred to me that all of David’s A-list, older-than-me high school friends would have seen my photo on that coffee table. That the entire senior boys basketball team was probably staring at my forest-themed school photo (in a heart-shaped frame) as they sat around watching television and discussing who to take to senior prom and the Annual Steer BBQ & Village Fair.
News alert: school photos don’t do a lot to up teen curb appeal.
Of course, David Humphreys insisted it was one of the nicest gifts he had ever received. Which is exactly the sort of bullshit that encouraged my mother in the first place, David.