Why does Brent Zerkel want to be my friend? Facebook does funny things to people — makes you talk in first person and think someone actually cares that you’re running to the grocery store or digging out an ingrown toenail. What it also does is bring back people to your life who you were pretty much content leaving in the past. Some people may see this as a good thing — reconnecting with childhood friends, catching up with your college roommate who is on her second divorce, etc. But when old exes, crushes, enemies or just plain casual acquaintances come back into the picture, it can get kinda creepy. Enter Brent Zerkel*.
We went to high school together in a class of 200. We weren’t friends. I knew who he was; he lived by me. But we never hung out. I didn’t dislike him, I just never really thought about him much. So why has he tried to be my friend three times on Facebook? After I ignored his request the first two times, he still didn’t he get the point. Why? What is it he wants to know about me? His profile picture is all I needed to see — perfect wife, cheeky grin, camping garb. “My life is grand,” it says. “How about yours? Are you married, divorced, drunk, stoned, Republican, gay or a fan of ‘Lost’”? It’s not that I want to hide anything from my old classmates back in Ohio; I just don’t understand the urge to reconnect with someone you were never connected with in the first place.
Does he want to know that I now eat bacon? That I visited my younger brother in San Francisco last year and ate chili out of a sourdough bread bowl? That I’ve met Joan Jett or started my own pub crawl?
Truth is, I think I know what he’s after.
I had this minor Julia Roberts obsession in high school. It was the early ’90s — who didn’t? Other people had unicorns and Bobby Brown on their lockers — I had the “Mystic Pizza” poster. Other people could recite the Gettysburg Address or the lyrics to “Ice, Ice Baby” — I could quote “Pretty Woman” from start to finish. I wasn’t cool by any stretch of the imagination, but I also wasn’t a nerd. I fell somewhere in the middle — the class clown who made the dean’s list and played (read: sat the bench) softball.
Anyway, my point: At my 10-year reunion a few years ago, I ran into Brent Zerkel. He smiled his cheeky grin, looked deep into my eyes and said, “Are you still a fan of Julia Roberts?” Not “Hey, how’s it going? What have you been up to the last decade?” Not “I heard you were feeding starving children in Africa and that you found the cure for cirrhosis of the liver.” Not “I hear you’re working at a rag down in Louisville and once bummed a smoke from Kid Rock.” Nope. The one thing he remembered about me was my fondness for an actor.
I finally accepted his fourth friend request last week. He’s free to scour my photo albums, pillage my personal info and unearth my updates to find what he’s looking for. There is nary a mention of Mrs. Roberts on my site, he’ll be surprised to discover. (Except for maybe a quote or two from “Steel Magnolias.”) Is his life better than mine? Am I everything he thought I’d become? Does he have Joan Jett envy? Guess I’ll find out at my 15-year reunion.
Other Facebook frustrations
1) Why do people post pictures from their childhood? 2) Why do your friends tag you in the most unflattering photos ever taken? 3) Why has updating my status become as routine as brushing my teeth? 4) Why are secret rendezvous no longer secret? 5) Why do former classmates put their babies in their profile pics?
Louisville Brewfest, March 27
This column is supposed to be about drinking, right? Well shit, sometimes I stray. So here’s to refocusing — the first-ever Louisville Brewfest is Friday from 4-10 p.m. at the Clifton Center. Beer will be available for cheap from all five local breweries, and it’s free to get in. Details on Event Horizon.
*Names have not been changed to protect the guilty.
Follow me on Twitter (thebarbelle), but please don’t tag me on Facebook when I’ve fallen off my bar stool. Check out my liver’s daily reasons to drink at barbelle.leoweekly.com.