I love running into friends from years ago. About a year ago I saw two in one day at Twistars in DeWitt. I was chit-chatting with another parent while our daughters were in gymnastics class when she suddenly dropped the bomb on me that she is the former Kristen Koenig of David Scott Elementary in DeWitt. We were in 3rd grade together and she had a crush on my best friend Dan Konopnicki. On the way out, she pointed out Ron Slater, a buddy from Cub Scouts who lived down the street. His daughter was also in gymnastics and I caught up with him too, even though the whole time I couldn't help but remember how it was he who was responsible for the scar on my tongue when he punched me for a reason I can't remember. It was awesome though how it brought back a flood of memories-- especially since I can still see the resemblance in them of the child they were 25 years before. Although, Kristen now goes by the name of K.C. (she's cool like that) and now my wife and I have become good friends with her and her husband Terry.
Fast forward to last weekend at the Children's Miracle Network telethon at Sparrow. Who comes up to say hi afterward, but Angela VanWormer from Mrs. Russell's 5th grade class at Anna Maria Elementary. So you're not confused, my mom moved us to Anna Maria Island, Florida after 3rd grade (she was never a fan of the winters here.) Angela lived down the road from me and we had the same bus stop at one point. Later in middle school, Ang was witness to my continuous clashes with our crusty old bus driver lady. She and her family now live in Michigan. Talk about a small world! She dropped me an email this week and attached our class photo which I don't think I ever had. I love talking about my elementary school days. Angela even mentioned how she still remembers my "Betty Crocker" speech. In 4th and 5th grade we had to give a speech on something and that year mine was about my experience back in DeWitt in Cub Scouts. I forgot about the bake sale and tried to bake a cake one night by myself because my mom was at work. It ended disastrously, but made a very funny speech called "My Date with Betty Crocker," thanks to Mrs. Russell. I won the school competition and went on to win the Manatee County competition and it was really the start of my love for public speaking. The other story I love about Anna Maria Elementary is my first day there in 4th grade. We didn't have much money, so I didn't dress the best. At some point I used the word "pop" in reference to a soft drink which ended in plenty of laughter from the kids who had no idea what I was talking about. It's "soda" down there. So, there I am on my way out to recess, hanging my head embarrassed, dressed funny, wondering what the heck a soda is and getting picked last for the game of kickball. My first time up, I boom one into the trees for a home run. The next day I was picked first.
As for this picture... that's me second from the left in the back row. Angela is in the first row to the right of the class sign in white. Some names jump right out, like Reed Bailey (fourth from the right in the back row) and Beckett Kirk (3rd from the right in the first row). Two of my best friends and together we won a state soccer championship a few years later. Beckett is a male model now, I hear. Melissa Duncan is the redhead two down from me and came in second in the speech contest. I don't know the reason I'm laughing, but it probably has something to do with Brad Blackburn (next to me) and Doug Ewing (2nd row, 2nd from left). I have a lot of great slumber party memories with Doug, Reed, Beckett and Jesse Buri (sitting on grass, 1st from right) that usually involved us getting into trouble. Shannon Boyd (2nd row, far right) was one of two girls who played little league and was better than most of the boys. I think we were boyfriend-girlfriend for awhile, too. Shannon Zambito (2nd row, 3rd from left) and I were definitely boyfriend-girlfriend and I remember thinking she had the coolest name ever. My first french kiss ever came in 6th grade with Becky Butler (1st row, 2nd from left). "Careless Whisper" by George Michael was playing on VH1. Wow.
Now I think I'm just writing for myself. This is one of those times I wish my mom was still here because she'd get a real kick out of this story. Anyway, I know it's tough to see the photo, but the blog only allows pics of 15 KB or smaller, so if I can find a way to improve it I will. Right now, I'm more concerned with finding a way to get back to the Island and that view of the Tampa Bay I had everyday from Mrs. Russell's class.
Maybe next week I'll scan my Kiwanis team picture from little league and give you a real laugh.