Childhood Ruins Yet Another Innocent Soul

Poor, poor Justin Hippert. I saw him on the street yesterday as I was coming out of PetSmart. You'd think I wouldn't recognize him, since it had been twenty-five years and we were just kids the last time we spoke, but his face was pretty much the same. I summoned up the courage to go up to him. He was sitting on a bench eating a Big Montana from Arby's. I asked him what he had been up to, knowing full well that since he'd been tagged It that day at Marsha Gifford's house and couldn't touch anyone before we counted to thirty, his life had never been the same. He said he'd become a software designer. It sounded impressive, sure, but the agony was there in his eyes, plain to see. It wasn't long before he broke down weeping. I embraced him.

"I got you, you jerk!" he suddenly cried out. "You got touched! I'm not It anymore! You are! I'm free! I'm free!"

"Justin...." I said pityingly, and brought my hand from around my back to show him my crossed fingers. The sight of them made him pour pitiful tears onto my new blue shirt from Target. His Big Montana plopped on the ground.

I told him about some groups I'd seen mention of on Craigslist, people who had also never been able to relinquish their Itness, and we parted. Look, is it my fault or Marsha's or Steve's or Amy's that Justin was the slowest It there ever was or ever could be? Is it my fault that happened to be the last game of TV Tag we ever played, and that when school resumed the next day, we were off to fifth grade where such games just didn't happen much anymore? I really hope I don't get another one of Justin's sad pool party invitations again this year, the ones that promise professional catering, a band, and even an appearance by Joe Mantegna, and then at the very bottom say PARTICIPATION IN SHARKS AND MINNOWS REQUIRED. Of course it's only me and Marsha and Steve and Amy that get them. Pathetic.

Sheesh, that Big Montana was as big as my head. Maybe I could become a software engineer too and afford nice things. ( The dream is to coach youth golf, and I shall not be swayed by material concerns. Focus! Focus!)