dear noel.

dear noel,

the other night, my mom said you lost your job. you have a degree in civil or chemical engineering, but you were working in real estate. what was that about? i have to admit, i was pretty happy to hear about you getting laid off. i know, i know. that makes me an awful person and it'll probably bring me bad karma and all that crap, but whatever. ever since we both graduated college in 2005, my mom has been giving me frequent updates about you, like how your parents helped you buy a million dollar home in los angeles county, and how you drive some flashy red bmw convertible or something.

you had everything when we were kids. you always had the latest air jordans, the ability to play basketball and talk to girls, and most importantly, you got the rich white boys' respect. i don't know how the hell you did that. i remember your sixth grade birthday party. you and me, and five or six white boys. i didn't want to be there. i didn't feel like i belonged there. you managed to fit in with them somehow. at recess, you played basketball with them, not with us. most people called you a "traitor," a "twinkie," "white-washed," and all that crap. i didn't join in the labeling. i've never really been a fan. i just thought, that's how it is.

our parents would make us hang out sometimes. i didn't get it, but don't take it personally. i found it just as absurd as when they'd make me hang out with joseph. you know what i mean? it's like those hawaiians that came to seattle university, and they all just hung out with each other. why go to a new state, or a new country and recommend your child to hang out with his "kind?" you came to my house once and we played street fighter II. i think i showed you a g.i. joe jeep that i got for christmas, even though i wasn't really into g.i. joe. i think you told me that i was too old to be playing with g.i. joe.

i'd go to your house all the way out in roseville sometimes, and you'd put on some stupid movie with gratuitous nudity. i think one of them was called body of evidence or hard evidence or something like that. you fast-forwarded through all the boring parts and got to the sex scene. you even recited some of the dialogue, it went something like, "pleased to see you again, mr. d.a." it kind of freaked me out that you had memorized this particular scene, but then again, your brother had an entire closet filled with pornographic vhs tapes, so i guess i shouldn't have been that surprised.

we'd play basketball in your backyard. already, at eleven or twelve years old, i would make comments undermining my ability: "if i don't make this shot, i suck." i missed. "you don't suck," you told me, "you just need to practice. i practice like two or three hours after school everyday." i was amazed that someone could spend so much of his time dedicated to something so pointless as basketball. i mean, i enjoyed the sport. but practice? work...hard?

there was that one spelling bee where you told everyone that you didn't want to play, so you were going to purposely misspell the first word you got. i didn't really get it. you didn't seem to have trouble competing when it came to anything else. anyway, your word came. no one else had been eliminated yet. i think you were so confident that you would be the trendsetter that everyone would just follow suit. misspell a word, sit down. fuck the game, fuck the teacher, right? barracks. "b-a-r-a-c-k-s." you were eliminated. you sat down. i still remember mike m. smiling to himself, and then how everyone around him started giggling. and then it all just erupted into uncontrollable laughter. your plan had backfired. you cried, and then you left the room.

there was that time we had all received our report cards. i had all a's except for an a minus in science. that brought me just below a 4.0 g.p.a., and so i was no longer eligible for high honors. i would only get first honors. you and edgar trailed behind me, exalting your high honors certificates. "what happened?" you asked, in a blatant, condescending tone. "yeah, what happened? how come no high honors?" edgar asked.

that was the thing i didn't get. you were a baller and a crier. a friend and a bully. you worked hard, but i don't think any of it was ever fun for you.
i heard your mom was a little nuts when it came to pressuring you to achieve. she was on anti-depressants or something and jumped from the top of the stairs. i don't know if it was true. i just heard. and what became of it? where did all the pressure, competition, tests, spelling bees, homework and high honors get us? you: laid off. me: blogging in an office.

during our four years of high school, you spoke one sentence to me: "hey, how's it going?" "alright," i said. and then we just kept walking. after that, i saw you at my cousin's wedding. you probably said, "how's it going?" again. i probably gave you the same answer. as though we were robots, complete strangers. you danced with my cousin, pinned a twenty on her wedding gown. i didn't even dance with her. i think you knew her better than i did.

it's amazing, isn't it? you were once a real human being to me, a complex individual of flesh and blood, and now you're nothing more than a minor figure in a few scenes i don't really remember, or even want to remember. put that way, i'm sorry you lost your job. nobody's laughing now, though. i guess there's some comfort in that.

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