I need to get serious about finishing my book on pyramid legends, so I am going to be taking some time off this week to try to get some writing done. It seems like a good time to do it. Code of the Wild will devote its remaining episodes to hunting modern treasures, so it is of no concern to me. Andrew Collins has a new book out, but the publisher didn’t share it with me or other reviewers, so it might as well not exist. (The publisher offered some crap called The Wonder of Unicorns for review instead.) I’m sure I’ll eventually acquire a copy, but I’m not going to waste money on it. Tom DeLonge tried teasing more claims about testing “metamaterials,” but the photos showed what looks like the same types of material previously tested and determined to be industrial waste. So, until Ancient Aliens airs on Friday, it seems that I am safe to take a couple of days off.
But before I do, I feel like I need to issue a clarification and correction—but don’t get too excited; it’s not about any factual errors. Back when I analyzed the latest season of 13 Reasons Why, I complained that the Gothic accumulation of tragedies struck me as unrealistic. I should not, apparently, have said that.
This year, 2019, was my twenty-year high school reunion, and it marked, too, two decades since I graduated high school and went off to college. I described a bit of my experience in my review of 13 Reasons Why, and I was dismayed to discover that my memory cast entirely too rosy a glow over it. I wasn’t able to attend my reunion because it happened the weekend I moved to my new house, but in unpacking my things, I discovered my old high school and college journals, which I kept religiously during those years. They had mostly been packed away in a box of old papers and manuscripts for the past fifteen years or so, and I can’t remember the last time I looked at them. When I saw pictures of the sparsely attended reunion posted on Facebook, I thought I might want to go back and read about old times. I shouldn’t have.
It was horrifying, and not just because reading my own melodramatic teenage sturm und drang is cringeworthy. Instead, I could not quite believe how much I had forgotten from those years, or how many horrible things happened. I have always been an exceptionally careful chronicler, and even back then I collated my journal entries with newspaper clippings and other documentary evidence, so I know these things actually happened, even though I would not believe it if I had seen it on TV. My journal is an endless blotter of crimes committed by and on my friends and classmates (not by, or on, me I should stress), from the usual drinking and drugs to racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, steroids, corruption, child abuse, domestic abuse, pedophilia, statutory rape, date rape, sexual assault, assault, arson, domestic terrorism (bombings), and more. And yes, there were apparently a couple of deaths, though no murders. Even today, I wouldn’t describe everything publicly because, well, I’m sure some of it is still prosecutable felonies. And all of this is just from one and a half years’ worth of journal entries. I haven’t even read the rest yet. I know there is a section on the death threats I received senior year that is coming up eventually. That part I remember.
The fact that this horror story seemed normal back then—and probably is normal across America—shocks me today. I alluded in a past post to what I remembered of a rumored sexual assault committed by a friend of a friend on another friend of friend, but according to my journal, my memory has whitewashed the story more than even I would have suspected. I wrote in my journal that the day after the alleged rape, the principal took the distraught boy aside and told him that nothing would happen to him and that everything would be fine. The guidance counselor, a woman, took the girl aside and told her that what he did wasn’t so bad, that it wasn’t really a rape because it happened only the one time, and that she should let it go so as not to harm the boy’s future. To my credit, I didn’t think that was right back then, but I also didn’t really have any idea why their actions were so horrifically wrong. (As to why I was privy to these conversations—well, one happened in public, and the other was related to me by the participant.)
What is more astonishing still is that so many things that we would today consider outrageous violations occurred as a matter of course among the upper strata of the middle and upper-middle class students of a relatively safe and secure little town in the middle of a quiet area of upstate New York. I don’t want to give the impression that I lived through a Gothic horror story, but it was apparently a few shades darker than the sanitized excerpts that remain in my active memory.
So, long story short: Apparently, I lived through every goddamn thing that happened on 13 Reasons Why, and far from being an exaggerated and hyperbolic TV melodrama, it was scarily accurate. My apologies. Excuse me while I burn those journals and never think about any of this again.
Update: I read another block of entries and got to the suicide and the murder. I have no idea how I lived through this. It is completely horrifying, more so that I blocked out so much of it. I truly do not remember a classmate getting shot in the head by her boyfriend who had accused her of cheating on him. I am afraid to read the rest.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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