I had a good friend in high school who really liked to drink Everclear. I’d never touch the stuff, thought it was like gasoline. He and I became friends during the eighth grade when we were both selected to represent Smiley Middle School in the Olympics of the Mind. We were the only boys on the crew, along with about 4-5 girls. Our crew was given two tasks. First we had to read Moby Dick, and after completing it, we had to write an epilogue, and then turn that epilogue into a play that only lasted 8ish minutes. The second challenge was a brainstorming excercise, in which a selection of our crew sat in a semi-circle with a teacher/referee sitting at the open end. The teacher/referee would pose some kind of question or guideline, and then we were expected to come up with as many answers as possible in just a few minutes, the answers scored for creativity – the least obvious answers getting the highest scores. We’d go around the circle, each of us taking a turn before starting back at the beginning. The brain-storming was me and the girls. My friend Hal was in the play, it was a solo. He was Ishmael.
Late in high school, after discovering Everclear, Hal’s family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. He was angry before he left, but after he left he fill apart. He did a lot of drugs, a lot of acid. Hal would come and visit from time to time. He would always astonish us with the depth of his drug consumption. None of us could keep up.
In school, Hal had to be one of the smartest kids I knew. I wonder what he is doing today?