Thursday, February 14, 2008

A eulogy

An old classmate of mine recently died. We were in school together K through 12. It's just as well I wasn't at his funeral. They wouldn't have liked what I had to say.

He was a bully. Not one of the alpha bullies. Not one of the huge, mindless, violence machines that littered my class. No, this guy was one of the followers. He was a Crabbe or a Goyle to a couple of very large and dangerous Malfoys. But still, if he went to Columbine instead of Clearwater he would have made the "must shoot" list of the guys in trench coats.

Less than a week after graduation he was out partying with several other people at Lake Afton. He dove in, hit his head on a log, and was left paralyzed from the neck down from then on. Rumor has it that he regained some motion in his fingers, but he spent the rest of his life like that. This was the first of a series of incidents that left many of the brutes from my class dead.

I'm told that he managed to start his own stock trading company. How well he was doing I don't know. It's better than I'd have expected from him. I imagine that being a quadriplegic limits your options enough that he was forced to work in directions that he otherwise would never have gone.

It's been 15 years since I've seen him. I'd like to think that in that time he became a better person. Maybe the chair altered his attitude in the same way it altered his career path. Maybe he used the extra years so many of his friends didn't have to change his ways. It could happen. My cousin married a bully who smacked around her brother for years. Her husband seems to have reformed but he can still be heard bragging about some of the mistreatment he heaped upon others back in the day.

I know the man in that coffin is not the same person who sat a few rows behind me at graduation. Only his family can really speculate about how much he changed.

No comments: