One of the cool things about being old is one is less likely to be unduly impressed by famous people, because we remember them when their daddies were taking the switch to them in the back yard, just at the bed-wetting and squirrel-torturing stage, before they made a bunch of money to fill up their depleted souls and were able to bomb entire countries into gravel as though they were their own ex-wives or the kids that laughed at them in gym class.

Still, it’s startling to stumble across a familiar name from one’s own youth, and seek out a current photograph of someone you clearly visualize suspended at an eternal age twelve, suddenly catapulted into a doughy dotage like the rest of us.
I saw just such a familiar name the other day. It appeared in a George Will column. As a twelve-year-old the boy was smart, erudite, and damned impressed with himself. Sure enough this fellow is still an intellectual. He’s written this whole thing about Deep Literacy, defined as engagement with “an extended piece of writing” in a way that draws the reader into “a dialectical process with the text.” And how much we’ve lost in the way of critical thinking through our addiction to digital content. Or something like that. Too long, didn’t read.
Well, I could certainly look into it to see if it’s the same fellow. That’s the cool thing about digital content: sometimes you can find out what happened to all those people you’ve lost touch with. At least if they had unusual names.
It’s weird. We were all stoned, ambition-free hippies in college, I thought, and then after a few years when I signed on as a mail carrier, I discovered everyone else had gone to law school and was now pulling down a half-mil a year and speaking in complete sentences. Some of them owned slaves.
So while I was thinking of that, I typed in another unusual name from my sixth-grade class. And by gum there was a whole thing about her. It turns out she is a senior marketing research professional available for comprehensive management of primary and secondary research projects and integraton of information across multiple data sources. Dude!
I pressed on. Methodologies include: qualitative, quantitative, trend tracking/secondary search, private online community panel management, competitive intelligence.
Um. Positioning, segmentation, brand equity, consumer relationship marketing, new product development (concept, product, volumetric forecasting), marketing mix, multi-country studies…
All right. If all that means “adept at being your very best friend for an entire year and then suddenly one day turning her back and siding with your other friend against you and never telling you what you did wrong and sending you into your adolescence in an emotional tailspin that lasted several years,” by gum, I think I found my girl.
Then I clicked on a photo of George Will’s boy. Yup. Totally the guy who smacked me in the side of the face with a slushball.