My wife ordered me to clean my room last night. "My room" is the spare bedroom where I keep my computer, books, old trophies, various sports memorabilia and "tacky" art such as the $2 print of dogs playing roulette.
I like my room just the way it is. I can find all my old papers amid the 10 gallons of trash covering my 1-gallon trash can. And there's a unique sense of order, mostly maintained by an array of spider webs.
I decided to shift the trash around a little to appease my wife and even made vacuum cleaner noises when she walked past the door.
Among the many items I discovered while climbing over the trash pile were really bad stories I wrote in college, photos of people I don't know but probably am related to and various woodland creatures.
Most of this junk found its way into a trash bag after all. Then I came across an item worth saving — my fifth-grade class photo.
I've seen only a handful of these boys and girls in the past decade. Most seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. Very few stayed home.
Of course, there's me, the class clown, sitting up front with my bowl haircut styled by Mom. I was also the kickball king, spelling bee champ and elementary school Valentino. I married every girl in the class at least twice in playground ceremonies. Gee, I hope those weren't official; I can't afford the alimony.
There's Paul on the left. The whole schoolyard circled us one day as we fought over a ponytailed cutie named Paula. Because we were friends, we never landed a punch. Dennis, the class tyrant, was so disappointed no blood was spilled that he told on us for fighting in the first place. Ten years later, Paul was a groomsman in my wedding. I don't know where Dennis is, but I bet the mafia or FBI does.
There are the teacher's pets — Darrell and Angela. I've seen Darrell once since high school. We played golf when he flew home on a break from his doctorate studies in Native American literature in New Mexico back in 1996. Angela is a well-paid geologist with a dog that goes to a pet psychiatrist. I hope I never get that rich and successful.
There's Stephen, the outcast no one played with, on the right. He went on to become a football star in high school. A couple of weeks before graduation, he and some buddies were goofing off in a hot rod when he lost control and crashed. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Last year, he decided he'd had enough of this world and rolled his wheelchair off a fishing dock at his college.
Even without the photo, I'll never forget Robin. With bright blue eyes, long blonde hair and a Texas accent, she's still the cutest 10-year-old girl I've ever seen. She was my first crush and my first heartbreak as she moved back to Texas before sixth grade began. I wonder where she's at. I wonder where they're all at.
I should clean my room more often.