To the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Graduating Class of 2002:

I regret to inform you that despite your earnest encouragement to do so, I did not “stay kewl.”

Looking back on your well wishes in our 8th-grade yearbook, I realize now how deeply I have let you down. While I may have followed through on other aspirations like having a “GR8 Summer” and “hittin’ up the pool or sumthin',” I did not take your edifying advice to stay my authentic, off-the-hook self.

It’s true, I’ve changed. Instead of screaming out emphatic ‘Lil Jon-esque Ey-Yeah’s and OH-Kay’s, now when I agree with someone I merely nod my head and say new catchphrases like “yes” and “sounds good” and “sure, we can circle back to that another time, just loop me in on that email chain so I can best assess the landscape.”

I don’t even quote Old School anymore, which we all agreed was totally da bomb and the greatest film of all-time. That’s right, I call movies “films” now. And to be completely honest, I can barely even remember the storyline of Old School. At some point I think Will Ferrell’s character (Steve?) does a keg stand and then yells something, what, again I have no idea. This brain space has since been taken up with thoughts like, “Should I really invest in this mutual fund if I don’t agree with the ethics of the companies who make up its portfolio?” In other words, I’m a total dweeb who deserves a double-wet-Willie, STAT.

My social life is nowhere near what it used to be when I was kewl. I have friends, sure, but almost none that I refer to solely by their last name, and I certainly don’t dole out nicknames like “Hambone” or “Squid” anymore. Even my most raucous nights end before midnight. Chugging Mountain Dew and playing Mario Kart 64 until 3am sounds like a bad morning after, and a trip to the dentist—which I now actually kind of enjoy. Rolling a friend’s house with toilet paper? Completely out of the question. That seems less like an innocent prank and more like an affront to the respect they deserve for being able to afford a mortgage on a two-bedroom in a reputable neighborhood.

I’m not even kewl online, anymore. I used to floss on AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace, but now I just look at pictures of my nieces on Instagram and have a blog that I made myself using SquareSpace, which actually is pretty kewl. Even if you dove deep into my online presence, you wouldn’t find a single picture of me using a golf club from Putt Putt Mini Golf & Games to appear as if it is my penis, and (almost) no mention of Blink-182 lyrics.

I’m not sure when this turn to being seriously whack happened. I didn’t just wake up one day a bonafide noob who couldn’t snipe in a game of CTF on the Blood Gulch map of Halo if his life depended on it. I’m sure it was slowly, and then suddenly all at once—like the time Kevin and I put a turd under Laurance’s bed and he couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from for three months.

But at the end of the day, facts are facts: I haven’t drawn three vertical lines, then three more below those, connected them with right-slanting lines and capped them with points to construct a “Super S” in over 20 years; not even when I really want to accentuate how much something “sucks.” Like Brendan—remember how much Brendan totally sucked? Well now I suck. I am not the baller I once was in middle school: I’m a fraud, a poser, a total jabroni. I no longer smell what The Rock is cooking, though sometimes I do check to see what Dwayne Johnson is tweeting.

I did not stay kewl, and for that, I hope you will forgive me.

Ok, g2g. Let me know if you wanna hittin’ up the pool or sumthin'. L8R.

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