Years ago, sportswriter (and #34 on the Most Loathsome List) Mitch Albom wrote some book called The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which supposedly was about a dude dying, going to heaven, and meeting the five people who had the biggest impact on his life and the person he became, even if he didn't know it at the time. I'd like to think that if that stuff actually happens, Jim Fletcher, the teacher whose funeral I went to yesterday, would be one of my five. But that's only if the afterlife is as Albom describes it, and since nothing else I've read of Albom's describes a world that exists in any kind of reality as I know it, I have to conclude (until shown otherwise) that he's full of crap about the Five People thing, too.
No, more likely we get sent to hell and have to confront the five people who played the biggest roles in turning us into the bitter, resentful, pissy people we became as adults. Then we have to hang out with them for the rest of eternity -- in a crowded chain restaurant in some tourist-trap of a town, with a waiter who can't get our orders right, seated next to a family who won't keep their obnoxious kids from running around and making noise. It's not a pretty picture, but it's more relatable, at least. And that's the inspiration for this week's +5: When I finally get around to writing my counterpoint to Albom, these are going to be the Five People I Meet In Hell.
Ever since I was little, I've loved airplanes, and when I was young I desperately wanted to be a pilot. These aspirations came to a head in the summer of 1986, when my dad took me to see "Top Gun," the first movie I'd ever been allowed to see with a whole lot of cussing in it. Not more than a few months later, I took the Ishihara Color Plate Test and failed miserably, determining that I was red-green colorblind and thus would never fly for the military, NASA, or any reputable airline. A part of me will always associate Maverick with that disappointment; the other part of me will associate him with turning into a fucking loon around 2005. What happened to you, Tom?
Jennifer from the seventh grade
The first time I ever told a girl I liked her, also not coincidentally the first time I got rejected. And by "told her I liked her" I mean "got her best friend to tell her," and by "rejected" I mean "according to her friend, she wrinkled her nose up in disgust." I've had an intense fear of rejection ever since, and am frequently a nervous wreck around women I'm attracted to -- except for Hooters waitresses and exotic dancers, oddly enough. Totally comfortable in those environments. I don't know why that is.
They say that most people get more conservative as they get older; if you're curious as to why I haven't, you need only look to this guy, who set out to prove everything George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm was spot-on almost from the minute he took over as Speaker of the House in 1995. I mean, my politics have always leaned to the left, but it was this dicklick who really hardened me from a liberal-leaning bleeding heart into an angry, bitter commie pinko. Seriously, nailing a Capitol Hill staffer even while you're impeaching a sitting president for getting blown by an intern? I hate to think my political motivations have devolved completely from "make the country and the world a better place" to "wipe the smug grin off [insert political opponent here]'s fat-fuck face," but if they have, Newt's historical footnote of a Speaker tenure was probably the point where it started.
If the stuff I write about Georgia football frequently comes across as morose and fatalistic -- even when good things have happened, as if I'm sitting there biting my nails, just waiting for the other shoe to drop, like a Michigan fan -- His Quincyness is the reason. One of the top recruits in the country in 1998, scored a major coup for Georgia by backing out on his commitment to Tech and coming to Athens, was touted as a sure-fire superstar -- and then proceeded to pile-drive his career into a pit of interceptions and head-slapping mental errors. Instead of starting slow and then maturing into a fearless field general, Quincy led us to nine wins as a true freshman and regressed steadily from there, to the point where he didn't even take the field in the last four games of what would turn out to be his final year. They say that was because of "injury," but I suspect it had more to do with the "Pineapple Express"-caliber weed stash he supposedly had in his possession. Either way, it doesn't matter -- from that point on, every win, no matter how amazing, and every blue-chip recruit, no matter how highly touted, has been a source of joy and anxiety in equal measure. And don't even get me started on the Redskins.
My boss when I worked in Atlanta
After a mostly ineffectual year in Lynchburg, Virginia, at my first job out of college, I was offered a job in Atlanta and jumped at it the way the Uruguayan rugby team probably jumped at their first taste of non-human meat after being rescued in 1972. Everything went fine for a year or so, and then somebody lobbed through the window a grenade marked "office politics": the investment company that had been brought in to keep the place afloat started making major changes, a brief power struggle ensued between that company and my company's founder, and my boss, who'd been dating said founder nearly the whole time, went a little nuts. That experience taught me that any job, no matter how much you might love it at first, can devolve into "I'm just doing this to be able to pay my rent" at any moment and without any prior notice. Tell 'em, Biggie.
And now the Ten:
1. Pet Shop Boys, "Vulnerable" (Public Eye dub)
2. A Tribe Called Quest, "Description of a Fool"
3. The Chemical Brothers, "Where Do I Begin"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "Being Boring"
5. Röyksopp, "Remind Me"
6. Neon Heights, "Again"
7. Deee-Lite, "Build the Bridge"
8. Toto, "Africa"
9. Michael Jackson, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
10. Patton Oswalt, "Death Bed"
Your turn! Throw your Random Tens, and/or the five people you're likely to meet in hell, in the comments thread.