The Story: I met J. David Fish, Esq. (as I still like to think of him) in high school, as staff members for the Little Green, our school newspaper. We were paste-up buddies and BFFs, long before BFFs were a thing.
Kids today will never know the joy of newspaper paste up – the night (or two) each month when you stayed late at school to put the newspaper together – literally by hand, with rubber cement and x-acto knives – and make pages that we had to physically transport – by car – and deliver to the printer. There was no InDesign, no Quark XPress, no PageMaker, no MS Publisher back then. No emailing of PDFs for these kids. No siree. This group of us committed children would stay at school (gladly and willingly) until 11 o’clock or later to make sure that the Central High student body got all the news that was fit to print each month.
John and I didn’t have many classes together (that I can remember) but I distinctly remember him being a confidante and someone I was always acting very silly with. In fact, that was sort of our calling card. When other people were trying to be serious and solemn and focused, John and I were silly. We were just as good (if not better, dare I say) than our peers at what we were doing, we just didn’t take it all so seriously. It was fun for us and we acted appropriately. I think that’s what drew us to each other.
While we were reminiscing about all of this, we were compelled to raise our glasses and toast Connie Scully, who was the newspaper adviser during our years at Central and who supported and encouraged our silliness and our creativity. She didn’t try to stifle us or make us act serious like the other kids. That support and encouragement inspired us both and we talked about how grateful we are to her, even to this day.
I very specifically remember John’s and my paste-up surveys, where we would come up with a subject and survey the assembled staff, typically to many rolled eyes and exasperated sighs. It didn’t matter that our pages were already done (and done well), we still got sighed at like we were disruptive children. Well, we were disruptive children. It was very important that we know how many of the staff had innies and how many had outies. Or how many had earlobes attached to their head or ones that dangled freely. That was the serious stuff to JP and I. (Bovines and bon bons forever!)
It was through our silliness that we channeled and expressed our creativity. While other Little Greenies were laying out news and sports pages in boring columns, I wanted to be creating pages for feature stories so I could have some fun.
There was one issue where John and I really pushed some boundaries – and we won a national award for it, to boot. It was the paper’s 25th anniversary edition and John and I took charge of the front page of the paper. We had the idea to explode the front page of the paper to show the original front page below it. To accomplish that, we had to go out to the printer and do the trick by hand and have it photographed and turned into a plate for printing. I recall the printer being so impressed that anyone from the school had come out to ask them to help that they worked with us for quite a while to make the idea work. And work it did, to the tune of a national scholastic press award! Let’s hear it for, silliness!
Even when we were being badass, we were still silly and, essentially, pretty good kids. Somehow, John ended up with a master key to the school. I think it had to do with play rehearsals for Maskers, the school’s drama club to which he also belonged.
Regardless of how he got the key, another one of our crackerjack ideas was to break into the school on a Sunday and vandalize the Little Green office. When I say “vandalize,” what I mean is give the entire office a fresh coat of white paint because it was getting dingy and then lovingly and painstakingly recreate the paper’s logo on the wall in the exact right color green. Yeah, we were pretty badass. On Monday morning, everyone was abuzz at the makeover and, when it finally came out who was responsible, we got lots of compliments and pats on the back. (Take that, Banksy!)
I think that was probably why our parents let us talk them into letting us go to Montreal with some friends for a weekend our senior year. Over our drink, John and I were marveling at the fact that we pulled that one off. We were both on pretty short leashes back then. Typically, I wasn’t let much out of sight when I wasn’t at school, Little Green or ballet. My high school sweetheart was under great scrutiny all the time. But with this group, I was allowed to go to a foreign country, where the drinking age was 18 and share a hotel room with a couple of boys (maybe we didn’t tell our parents that part).
John and I recalled this trip with astonishment. He told his mom we were going to the Opera and museums. I have no idea what I told my parents but I’m sure it was the same story, at least for consistency’s sake. Instead, I remember we went to a baseball game and a bar. We were all so scared to walk into the bar because most of us were 17 and John was only 16 but we were determined. I can remember walking in, sauntering right up to the bar (foreshadowing of future talents, perhaps?) and asking for a Mai Tai. I think my mom occasionally drank them when we went out for Chinese. Or maybe I had just seen them on a menu somewhere. I had no idea what was in it or whether I’d like it, I was just trying to act naturally – and it worked.
Later, I reminded my parents of the Montreal trip and asked them how they could have let us go to Montreal for a weekend. My dad’s reply really said it all. “Well, look at who you were going with. We knew you couldn’t get into too much trouble.”
It’s probably a good thing that John lives on the other side of the country now. I’m sure as adults we could find quite a bit of trouble to get into were we in hanging-out range of each other.
The Drink: We were supposed to meet at Hooked, the local fish restaurant (Poisson….get it?), for lunch the day after Christmas, but the restaurant was closed so we went two doors down to an unspectacular local bar, primarily because it was nearby and open.
True to our past, and our presents as well, no average drink would do for JP and I to toast our friendship. We thought long and hard, consulted cocktail apps and websites and browsed the liquor selection on the bar. We knew we wanted something green, to symbolize The Little Green, the nickname both of our high school and the newspaper we worked at together for all those years.
Once he heard what we were trying to do, the bar manager, who turned out also to be a Central alum, was eager to help and concocted something especially for us that met our two main criteria: it was little and green. And, though I won’t be ordering them regularly, it wasn’t half bad, either.