An ethics-oriented weblog celebrating effective altruism, philosophy, and other beliefs Eric holds. Also: a place to post random thoughts.
22 July, 1996
[The following is a copy of an undated letter sent to Emily Mertz sometime soon after 22 June, 1996.]
Hi, Emily. What are you up to? I've been going to the recent Mardi Gras parades. They're a bunch of fun. I don't really know the history of the season, but it involves people riding on floats with masks on and throwing things at the people that watch them. Now I know that it sounds violent, but it's true. They throw things like Mardi Gras beads and moon pies and frisbies, and all sorts of wierd stuff. It really is a lot of fun.
I'm sure that by now, you've forgotten my real name, so I'll remind you: it's Eric. (This way you won't have to press contol-g in order to figure out my name. And speaking of member profiles, I do believe that I'm supposed to tell you why I quoted "Who's Scott?". Well, the following is the complete story with no details left out.
The pinnacle of my acheivements was when I started the WHOSCOTT? club. You see, it all started when my algebra teacher at Adams Middle School gave me a brochure. His name was Mr. Hines. He told me that the brochure was for the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science (ASMS) and he said that if I wannted to, my parents could enroll me into their summer program. (The school was for Juniors and Seniors only, but their summer program consisted of any and all children aged ten to fourteen that wanted to attend a boarding school for a week or two and learn more than the average student gets to in a public school, despite the oxymoron that ASMS is a state tax supported school - in other words, a public school.) I was ecstatic, and my parents sent me there for a week. I was thirteen.
I found the course stimulating and very enjoyable. Being a state school, students would come from as far north as Chirooka (that's right on the Alabama-Tennessee state line) just to attend. They had a swimming pool (it gets extra hot in the summer this far south) , a bowling alley, a soccer field, a recreation room with a big screen TV and all sorts of neat things. That was the most fun I had had in a while.
(Don't worry, the point will come out and rear it's ugly head pretty soon. Sometimes it takes a while for people to figure out what I'm talking about because it takes so long to get to the point.)
After that summer program, I went to Satsuma High School as a freshman. Boy, did I dislike my freshman year. But that's no matter because at the end of that year I recieved a letter from ASMS. They were inviting me to stay the upcoming summer. (Of course, they didn't pay my way, I had to include costs myself.) I happily accepted the offer and what happened next is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. But that's a different story; I'm busy right now with WHOSCOTT?. You see, after my mother dropped me off at ASMS, I met my roommate, James. That night we then met our Resident Advisor (RA) , or, in laymen's terms, our "guy-in-charge-of-us-so-that-we-don't-get-in-any-trouble-with-the-school." His name was Jeff McGeHee (pronounced MickGee) . He had a single middle name and that name did not begin with an S. I know that sounds like a stupid thing to tell you, but it's important, so remember it. You also need to remember that he did not have a nickname other than "Hey, you, the RA of mine whose name I can't remember!". That's also important.
Anyways, Jeff had a single distinguishing characteristic: he always wore a baseball cap, and he always wore it backwards. (Okay, so that's two distinguishing characteristics.) So when I saw him in the office, I knew it could be no other person. Here's what happened before I saw him.
James and I were going to order some pizza, but when we reached the pay phone, some 10 year old was already on it. We decided to wait behind him. I turned my back to the kid. I started to get tired of his constant talking. He just wouldn't hang up. He just kept going, "Yeah, Grandma, I really like it here... yeah, it's fun...they have all sorts of cool stuff, yep,... uh-huh..." I got so tired that I started to amuse myself by mimicking him to James' face. But then I noticed something strange. Across the hall was the main office. It was a corner office, and the two sides facing the hallways were made up of glass from about waist level up. There was a receptionist's desk in front of the window on one side. In front of this desk was a slot where I suppose she could slide papers through; the important thing about this was that it was an opening into the otherwise soundproof room. Anyways, I noticed Jeff McGehee, my RA, inside the office by himself. He had a phone up to his ear, like he was listening lightly.
I had been looking for quite a few seconds before I realized that all that he had been doing was listen. He was not talking! Now, I know I probably haven't told you this before, but every once in a while, my brain stops working. It is during those periods that I become very extremely stupid. My ignorance durings these short intervals upshots dramatically. It was when I noticed my RA, Jeff, that this intelligence-defeater stepped in. And, all of a sudden, I got this stupid idea. I turned to James, my roomate, and remarked: "Hey, I think someone else is listening to this kid talk, too." (Of course, this was physically improbable, since the kid was talking on a pay phone, while Jeff was on the phone in the office.) Anyway, males being the way they are, my stupidity rubbed off on James, and he replied to me in a positive way. "Yeah, Eric, I think that's Jeff, our hat boy." (Recall the backwards baseball cap.)
This stupidity was pretty funny in itself. But it gets even better than that. You see, we both started looking at Jeff at that moment, and therefore lost our place in line. (The kid had left, and now someone else was ordering pizza. I don't like line skippers.) But right now, I really did not care. You see, Jeff had started to talk. His head had recently jerked up, as if he had just been taken off hold. I suppose that he thought that no one could hear him, but we were near the slot I told you about earlier. We could hear him say just about anything. But neither of us were ready to hear what he had to say next. "Hey, man. This is Scott." My mouth dropped. James was flabbergasted. "Did you hear what I think I heard?" I slowly nodded. My mouth formed the word Scott, but I couldn't say a word. And not only could I not talk, but I also could not hear another word that Jeff said.
Neither could James. We were too astonished. (Weren't we stupid?) Before I know it, Jeff "Scott" McGehee huyng up the phone. And then he started walking towards the office door. He was coming our way! I grinned and told James what I was going to do. I was going to ask him the immortal question... "Who's Scott?"
James and I rushed to catch up with Scott. And then I looked him straight in the eye with a straight face and popped him the question. He looked at me, raised his shoulders, lowered his head, wrinkled his face, squinted his eyes, gave a confused smile, vehemently shook his head, and spurted out a deformed sounding - "What?" James quickly spun around to where his back was to Scott. He looked perfectly normal, except for that from my view, I could see about a 30 degree angle from my side of his front. He was laughing hysterically under his breath. I kept my composure, however, and I asked Jeff the question one more time: "I asked who Scott was, Jeff." James started to turn around, but it was all in vain, because Scott once again went into his look-innocent act and moronically said "What?" . I noticed James immediately turning around, and this time you could tell he was shaking a little bit from the back side. But I just barely gave a grin, and was about to ask him when James turned around with his face all red and said:
"Eric, uh, let's go to the bowling alley." Then he put his hand over his face to keep from laughing and pulled my arm towards the opposite direction of Scott. Scott stared at us as we walked away, but as soon as he turned a corner, we both busted out laughing, me more than him, being that I had held it in me so much longer than he had.
After it was all over, and I we were feeling better, we called for pizza. At this point, however, we had to wait for our meal. So we sat down in the rec room and started talking. And then an idea formed in my head. "Hey, James. Couldn't we make Scott (hint of laughter) really mad if we put a sign on the door to his room that said 'Who's Scott?'" James looked at me like I was crazy, but he started to get my idea. But then I started to get bigger ideas. I saw the whole scheme of things... a vision in my head. I saw my RA going insane from the shock of seeing "Who's Scott?" written everywhere he turned. (Remember, I still got those stupidic moments.) My head was getting swarmed with ideas, and all of them were about Scott. By the time I got to my dormitory that night, I had ideas coming out of my ears. (Boy, was that idiotic moment of mine was long.) That night, James kept me up all night saying "What? What? What? What?" over and over again. I finally laughed myself to sleep.
Posted by Eric Herboso at Monday, July 22, 1996
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