Project #1

in The Original 52 Projects

Find your old letters. Gather up all of the letters that one of your oldest friends has sent to you over the years. Photocopy the letters. Put the photocopies in an envelope, and then mail off the envelope to your friend.

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In high school one of my best friends and I had Latin class together. Why we were taking Latin when everyone else was smart enough to be taking Spanish, or French, I have no idea. I think I was taking Latin because it was going to help me do better on the SAT. Somebody obviously gave me horrible advice. Probably a career counselor. Anyway, Latin was just about the most boring class there ever was. The hour long period seemed to go on for about 200 years. The only way my friend and I could stay awake was by writing each other letters. Of course, my friend would still often fall asleep, and a memory of him being jarred awake by the teacher can still get me rolling on the floor:

“T., could you please answer number 15,” the teacher asked my friend. Since T. was sound asleep, he didn’t respond. For a very long time. But the mounting stares must have finally gotten to him, because he eventually snapped out of his nap as if being jolted by a live wire. Then he frantically began to flip the pages of his notebook, chanting a steady “Ummmm, uhhhh. Okay, uhhhh… Ummmm…” to stall and give the pretense that he was on the verge of answering the question. But T. finally had to admit what we all already knew. He had no idea what the teacher had been going over, no idea whatsoever, and finally had to ask “Ummmm… What page are we on?”

Anyway, about 8 years after we graduated from high school, I found these letters. So I gathered them up, made copies, and sent them off to my friend. T. wrote me back right away. It was like being thrown back in time and being put face to face with his ol’ high school self, he wrote in the letter he sent me after he had received his old letters. And he also apologized for something. I remembered exactly what he was referring to. One day I had shown up at school wearing this gold chain with a gold cougar medallion attached to it. Obviously I was just trying too hard to be different and get some attention, but I did kind of dig this chain. In one of the letters, T.’s reaction to the chain is recorded. He wrote, “And Jeff, what is up with that chain. Why are you wearing it? What message does it convey? I’ll tell you what it conveys: ‘Jeff is an idiot.'” He read that and felt so horrible about what he had written all those years ago that he wrote me a very serious, heartfelt apology, and he told me he would never, ever do something like that again.

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