A Ballad For Alex Stark

A couple years ago, at my ten year high school anniversary, I was hoping to meet up with a particular classmate that I hadn’t spoken to for a long time. For the sake of argument lets call him “Alex Stark”.

Alex Stark is someone that I have probably spoken to on a handful of occasions which probably equates to a sum total of about thirty words. Not exactly a friend, that is, but not exactly an enemy either. He was one of those people that you go to school with and know of but don’t know anything about and I was particularly hoping to meet up with him a few years ago at my ten year anniversary because I think I might owe him an apology.

You see, not only did Alex Stark and I attend the same high school, but we also attended the same middle school. Middle School constituted a period in my life that I generally prefer to keep locked in a steel drum in a lead-lined pit buried beneath a mountain in Nevada, but there are some things that can be safely forgotten and there are some things that will send you periodic reminders in the form of three eyed frogs. Alex Stark, as it turns out, is one of those things in the latter category.

At the splendid age of thirteen I was undergoing what, in my family, we call “The Mutant Years”. This was not a pretty time in my life. Though I longed to be popular and stylish and well liked and clever and smart, most days it was all that I could do to manage ‘upright’, ‘dressed’ and ‘not-a-sociopath'(and the jury is still out on how successful I was at this last one).

Ermegherd eren’t eh ferburlers?

So this one time I was at home, probably alone upstairs in my room listening to Ace of Base (again and again and again) and drawing a picture of either a. a dragon, b. Pocahontas, or c. one or more of the characters from “The Outsiders” and I get a phone call. This is not a normal thing for me. Phone calls were not something I was good at and I knew it. In fact I was so aware of this that I kept a friend on the phone for an hour and a half because she was too polite to hang up on me just to prove I was normal.

At any rate, I got a phone call and when I answered it the conversation went something like this:

Me: Um hullo?

Unidentified voice: Hi, um, sooo, um Alex Stark wants to know if you’ll go out with him.

Me: Um, ha! No.

And that was it. Clearly Oscar Wilde blushed before my conversational wit back in those days. I hung up the phone and never heard another word about it and at the time I was relieved.

Alex Stark wasn’t exactly someone that I would’ve called ‘popular’ at the time, but he always seemed to be friends with people who were putting him lightyears closer to actual popularity than I was. At the time there was no doubt in my mind that the whole thing had been some kind of phone prank- that someone dared someone else to call me and ask if I would go out with him (I’m not even sure if it was Alex on the line or someone else) and that if I said yes it would be some kind of joke with me as the punchline.

So it was easy to say no. And it was easy to dismiss the whole thing with a scornful little “ha” like it was no big deal and like I was getting asked out on dates all the friggen time  because it seemed so unlikely as to be absurd. Now, though, with retrospect being what it is, I wonder if it wasn’t a moment of epic douchebaggery on my part that may or may not made some poor souls Mutant Years that much more wretched. For all I knew Alex Stark might’ve been a rare specimen who could see through the frizzy hair and the braces and the glasses and the scorching social ineptitude. For all I know I was the one who crushed some poor boy’s hopes and dreams and didn’t even realize that I’d done it.

So when the ten year reunion came around I hoped I would have the opportunity to talk to Alex Stark and gradually bring the conversation around to “Hey-do-you-remember-that-time-in-middle-school-when-you-asked-me-out-and-I-said-no? Cuz-I-kinda-feel-rotten-about-it.” And maybe he would remember it and maybe he wouldn’t but at least then I’d be able to acknowledge that it had happened and that if I’d done something wrong that it wasn’t on purpose and apologize if necessary.

Thanks to things like Facebook I like to periodically check in on this Alex Stark and he seems to be doing pretty OK.  I kind of wonder if being a grown up means looking back at your past and constantly realizing how many times you changed another person’s destiny without realizing it. But then I guess in the end the whole point of growing up means overcoming these destiny-defying obstacles anyway.

So to Alex Stark, for what it’s worth:

I’m Sorry.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on August 8, 2012.

5 Responses to “A Ballad For Alex Stark”

  1. DUDE! I literally had almost this exact experience in 7th grade. Was totally sure it was a prank when *person whose name rhymes with Cleric Fist* came up to me at recess with *person whose name rhymes with Pissedoffer Huns* and asked if I’d go out with Mr Huns. I was certain it was a prank (mostly due to all the shit both of them had given me in Home Ec that year) and laughed and said no. It was only like two years ago did I remembered that Mr Huns had seen me walking out of gym class one day and say “wow what a babe!!!” (which at the time I also thought was a joke) and I realized, maybe he had actually been serious. I was sooo abysmally dweeby in 7th grade I never thought maybe there was truth to the ask-outage.

    • I know, right? That’s the problem with the seventh grade sense of humor- its SO hard to tell if it is teasing to be mean or teasing to get attention because someone likes you. I just wish I could clear the air now.

  2. Also. Mutant Years is a pretty effing apt term for those terrible 11-14 ages.

  3. That’s my hair in this picture. And now I’m curious. From the vague description I’m not sure who you’re talking about.


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