|Posted on August 27, 2010 at 4:25 PM|
This story is about how I got into writing.
But first, it’s about Becky Frodsham. Because, well, for a girl that I never even said a single word to, she changed my life and has a role in this story.
Travel back in time with me, will you, to the late ‘80s. I’m going to high school in Northern California. I think of myself as a pretty typical high schooler, possibly with mid-to-strong nerdlinger tendencies. I’m not A/V club material but I’m not on the football team or class council either. I’m a blender, just kind of fitting in. I do well in class but don’t really stand out. (I am on the school’s newspaper though, so Big Love shout out to The Blueprint! And, side note, my English teacher – who also handled the journalism duties – was a San Francisco 49-ers cheerleader. Not like she USED to be one; like she WAS one while she was teaching. So, yeah, I had that goin’ for me, which was nice.) I’ve got my small group of friends that I do stuff with and an exciting Friday night for us is pretty much playing video games or watching a movie. But looking back, I realize that I’m basically incredibly shy and reserved. (Which might be slightly hard to believe if you know the Type A – Aggressive, Assertive, Awesome, Ass – that is John today, who truly will say just about anything. But especially at the most inappropriate of times. )
Then sometime during my Junior year, Becky Frodsham moves in to our school. And there was just *something* about her. To me, she was the prettiest girl to walk the halls of Acalanes. Tall, thin, athletic, blonde, pretty as pretty can be, and strolling the halls with a bounce and a smile. I was smitten. An instant crush. And she wasn’t one of the stuck up or popular girls, or a Heather or a Mean Girl or any of that. She was just…Becky Frodsham. And I would wander out of my way to follow Becky around the halls. I would park up at the upper lot to be by her red Karman-Ghia. I would watch Becky play soccer. And if you have ANY idea how I feel about soccer then you’d know that I wasn’t going to watch an exciting women’s practice. Seriously, I was one imaginary phone call from Jodie Foster away from going after Reagan. I had it bad for Becky Frodsham.
Then Junior year ended and Senior year came. And again, I’d pass Becky in the halls, I’d watch her eating lunch with her friends, I’d see her driving the red Karman around town. But I couldn’t muster the nerve to talk to her. And graduation came, and when they called her name I clapped the loudest. And then…she was gone. Without a word from me. And I’ve always felt that it was a lost opportunity. An opportunity to meet a friend, an interesting person, a hell-bitch (though, who am I kidding, BF could never possible be this), or most likely a heart breaker, or a…something.
And when Becky Frodsham disappeared into the universe, I told myself that wouldn’t let an opportunity pass by again. When I met an opportunity, I would charge into it head-on. I would apply for the job. I would ask the question. I would talk to the pretty girl. (Who turned out to be Dana. And, in some ways, I think that if not for Becky Frodsham, perhaps I wouldn’t have had the nerve to walk up to Dana in a parking lot. With an introduction sure to win the heart of any southern girl. I believe my exact opening comment was, “I hear nothing good ever comes out of the south.” And her terrific reply was, “Well, you just haven’t met the right people.” And I was smitten all over again. But this time for good.) I decided that the worst that could happen is they’d say, “No.”
And “No” was a heck of a lot better than not knowing.
So, yes, back to the writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing. It’s been my creative outlet. And after high school and The Blueprint, there were lots of short stories, then writing golf tips for the Country Club newsletter, but nothing I actually got paid for. (Remember, this was back in time before the Interwebs. When you would actually mail and fax things. Or send an e-mail while on the phone with the person and be like, “wait…wait…yep! Wow! It just showed up!” ) And of course, I didn’t have no piece of paper to say that I officially knows how to does my grammars. (That’s right; I didn’t go to college. Take THAT college! ) So, after President Clinton played golf at the country club, I had an idea. Man, wasn’t it cool working with the Secret Service to pull this round off. I bet other people would like to read about it. Because tons of people had read about the president playing golf, but that’s boring! Working with the Secret Service; not *that’s* cool! So I opened the first magazine I saw lying around in the golf shop, Golf World. And I called the editor’s number on the masthead. And I pitched him the idea. And he bought it! For like $500. Wow! Just like that I’m a professional writer!
Then I started thinking beyond the single story. What if I could actually DO this writing thing. And write about things that I love. Like movies. So I hatched a new idea. I’d review the best soundtracks from Dolby Digital Laser Disc movies (which were JUST coming out at this time). So I whipped open my favorite A/V journal, Home Theater Magazine, and found the features editor, one Rob Sabin, and I called him. Got his voice mail and left a message. Then – and I totally remember this, I got the idea while standing in the shower, that I should have something clever on my answering machine for when he called back – I changed our answering machine message to the THX Big Note BLASTING with me yelling over it to be heard, “The movie is about to start and we can’t take your call right now!” So, Rob DOES call back. And he likes my idea. So I send him a review of the movie “Heat” detailing all the best audio parts. Rob likes it but it is too similar to other reviews they are doing, so he takes a pass. OK, a minor defeat. But not really. Cause a few weeks later Rob calls me back and says he really liked my style, just not that concept, but would I want to write something else for him. And voila! A relationship is born. And when Rob moves from HT over to Sound + Vision, he takes my name with him. And The Custom Installer is born. And, as they say, you can read about the rest in my blog….
But, it all goes back to Becky Frodsham. And the regret over never saying ,“Hello.” Well, that and probably a couple of drops of actual writing ability. Because the Becky Frodsham Effect will only get you so far. So, thanks, Becky! Wherever you are.