I saw It: Chapter 2 tonight. This isn’t a post about that. It’s not a review of It. I might do that Sunday, or I might talk more about the book release. I’m having a party for that tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to that. Getting together with some of my closest friends.
I don’t have a lot of those these days. Not in a bad way. I keep my circle small. I like it that way. I’m an introvert, large crowds can be overwhelming. Give me a small group I can love like family, and I’m happy as a clam – and I am, in fact, as happy as the proverbial mollusk.
But that small group means groups change over time. People come in and out of my life and leave their marks. And, given how central the concept of childhood friends is to It, it got me thinking.
Because once upon a time, I had my own Loser’s Club.
I wish I could say we had some kind of catchy name for our group, but we didn’t. We tried a few times, but nothing really stuck. We kept trying for edgy, cool names, and we were the exact opposite of cool, so it never felt right.
This was in Kansas City. I was there up until 3rd grade, and then my family moved to Saint Louis. My little Loser’s Club really formed when we moved back to Kansas city in time for 5th grade. I’d had friends before that, and the group was made of some people I’d known before and some who were new to me.
First was Chris. Chris was, for years, my closest friend, and if our little group could have been said to have a leader, it would have been Chris. He was the kind of guy it was impossible not to like: friendly, outgoing, athletic, nerdy, he could run with any crowd and get along just fine. He was also just one of the best people I’ve ever known. Chris didn’t have a judgemental bone in his body, and he’d always make sure you felt like you were home when he was around.
He also had the best house with the coolest stuff, including the latest game consoles and a playhouse in his backyard, so when we all got together it was usually at his place. I sometimes have dreams when I’m back in that house. Sometimes he’s there, sometimes the group is there, and sometimes I’m just walking through it, a ghost even in my own dream.
It’s funny, I never have dreams in any of my old houses. My family moved a lot, so nothing from my youth stuck as strongly as Chris’s house. That’s probably why. But… it might also be because a lot of my happiest memories were from that house.
Then there was Schuleyer. His name was pronounced Skyler, but that was the German spelling. Schuleyer was the point guy in our group – he was always the first to jump into the lake, the first to race ahead, and the first to laugh. Schuleyer was energy personified – he always seemed ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice, and you best be ready to keep up. Not because he would have left you behind – he never would have – but because you had to see what he was seeing at the same time he saw it. He had that joy for life that was infectious, and everything was better just because he was around.
Next was Timmy. He was a bit of a moderating influence on us – not because he was hesitant to rush headlong into whatever we were doing, that was me and John, but he was still more thoughtful about it. He was also the most creative member of our group – and that’s saying something with how creative he was. He’s the one that got me into theater, and some of my fondest memories involving him were from the shows we did together. And, like a lot of creative people, he had insights you couldn’t ignore. The phrase ‘wise beyond his years’ has become a cliche, but Timmy was. In our group, if you needed help with schoolwork, you could go to anyone. If you needed help with life, you went to Timmy. He was also the one that got me into comic books.
John was newer to our group. Time has fuzzed things so I can’t remember if he joined at the same time I came back or not long after. He was also the brains of the operation. That’s not to say the rest of us were dumb, but John could run circles around the rest of us, especially in Science and Math. He was the one who looked at the crazy things we were planning, would point out why they were terrible ideas and exactly how they would end up with us in trouble or in peril… and then he’d show us how to put the contraption together properly. He also never said “I told you so,” when he was right.
Jace was the last person to join our group, and the first to leave. His family moved to Kansas City from Hawaii and then moved back before we finished 8th grade. Jace was the prankster of our group, full of mischief, but had a knack for making sure you’d never feel like he was laughing at you, always with you. The strongest memory I have of Jace was the first time it snowed. He’d never seen it before, and his whole facr lit up when it started falling.
As for me? I was the idea guy, the schemer and the dreamer. I’d come up with the most crazy, impossible ideas. Again, that’s not to say the others didn’t have those plans, but since I’m slotting everyone into an archetype it’s only fair I do the same for myself.
There were others who rotated in and out, like Jace, because the real world isn’t as nicely defined as a story. We got into some shit back in the day. There were the wacky races, where we’d outfit pretty much anything with wheels with plywood and cardboard and crash it down the street. We were in Boy Scouts together, and the shit we got up to in the forests on camping trips… Well, let’s just say it’s a miracle none of us died on one of those, and that we never set anything on fire we weren’t supposed to. I’ll never forget the time we mixed Gatorade and Tang to make Gatortang, and everyone else had to go lay down with incredible stomach pains. I think they wanted to murder me when I made more for breakfast the next day.
Then there was Makala. I don’t remember who came up with the word, but it became our all purpose phase. It was a battle cry when we did something crazy, it was a way to say things were going well, it was a victory cheer, it was something we’d say in grim determination right before trying something we knew would go bad… It meant whatever it needed to at any given time.
As for what happened… Well, I wish I could tell you some crazy story, but life isn’t as clean as a novel. Jace moved back to Hawaii after 7th grade. I was the second to leave, moving back to Saint Louis for High School. The rest of the group went to high school together, and Chris, Timmy, and Schuleyer stayed close. I think John and them drifted apart back then, as people are wont to do. John actually ended up going to Saint Louis University for College, same as me. We met up a couple times, but this was after four years of life – and when those four years are high school, people don’t click the same.
I went back to visit Kansas City a couple times. Each time was like walking back into my childhood. Then, the group gelled just like the old days, but with more interesting drinks than Gatortang, and these left everyone feeling like ass the next day.
It’s been years since I’ve seen any of them last. I still see Timmy and Schuleyer on Facebook. Timmy’s doing music these days and has gone from good to phenomenal. Schuleyer is married. Chris and John aren’t on social media much, so I know less about what’s going on in their lives.
Last time I talked to one of them was about a year ago. Chris reached out to congratulate me on publishing Weird Theology. It was nice to catch up with him for a bit.
I don’t know if I have a point here, which is why this is an off schedule post. Just got hit by a wave of nostalgia and decided to share it with you all.
And guys, if you somehow stumble upon this… I hope you’re doing as well as you seem to be. If you’re ever in Saint Louis, hit me up, and I’ll do the same if I’m ever in Kansas City. It’d be good to catch up.