In case anyone was wondering, my research seems to suggest that the most expensive gas in America can be found at (surprise) DisneyWorld, but apparently we can't complain too much. Once you take into account the metric and currency conversions, Germany's got us all beat by a kilometer: they're closer to US$3.50 a gallon. Ouch. Stephane assures me that France's situation is simillar, so think about that next time you roll up to a pump; just say, "at least I'm not in Europe..." Sorry to those with a ".de" email address on this list. Today I recieved an email from my ex-girlfriend's sister. When I say "ex-girlfriend", in this case, I'm referring way, way, WAY back to those hideous high school years. And I'm not just speaking of a time frame. It's also a state of mind: an uninspired, unshowered, disinterested state of the soul. Forget about your prom, and that AP exam that you aced. Those happy moments are more or less accidental. Misery, however, is completely calculated in high school. Therefore concentrate instead on those moments of pure rage, frustration, and uselessness that have hardened, darkened, and defined your demeanor for the rest of your life. Oh, wait. Maybe you CAN focus on your prom, then. But let me focus on someone else's prom for a second. It would have actually been -my- senior prom, but after being coerced into going to one my junior year, I felt pretty confident I had gotten all I could out of the experience. I mean, the gig's the same every year; the only things that change are the styles (but not the tackiness) of the music and costumes. So if you missed your prom, or just have a masochistic need to relive it, then fear not. Your local video store has an ample stock of Molly Ringwald movies available for just this reason. The reason for my attendence at my junior prom is also the reason I mention my senior prom. The astute among you have already figured it out: the ex-girlfriend. To protect the innocent, we'll just create a false name for her. From here on, we'll refer to her as "Karie". Karie really REALLY wanted to go to that senior prom. In retrospect, I don't think this was a "girl thing"...I am willing to believe that Karie is the only creature on Earth that looked forward to the prom for purely selfless reasons. Guys would look forward to potential booty, and girls would look forward to outdoing other girls, but Karie just loved the thrill of the night. For her, the event wasn't gaudy: it sparkled. However, there was no way in hell I was going to that prom. None. Threat of torture, death, and Menudo concerts would not coerce me into attending this event. It just wasn't going to happen. But being the modern boyfriend I was, I was willing to compromise. Karie could go to the prom WITH SOMEONE ELSE. Made perfect sense to me. Sure. The reason I'm going through this ancient history is because Karie's sister--remember her?--sent me an email to tell me about Karie's wedding shower. For those who aren't in the know, she's marrying the guy who she took to her senior prom. Yes, people like that apparently -do- exist. And in this case, you don't need to rent a Brat Pack film to see it. Karie and her fiancee are tying the knot in about two weeks, on (yikes!) April Fool's Day. And for this, I am filled with an overwhelming sadness. But no, this isn't a scene out of "There's Something About Mary"...so all you people that have been keeping a betting pool on me all these years can put your money away. My sadness, in all truth, is that the world is growing up around me. Or maybe the world's growing old around me. Whichever one applies. Karie is only a few months older than me, and is merely hours away from a honeymoon. It all seems so foriegn to me. Is this the real world? How have I sheltered myself from this so effectively? I don't mean marriage necessarily. Maybe just...maturity? Getting a bank account is a terrifying experience for me, so you can bet that Marriage is ranked right up there with Death in my book. They are things that happen to "grown ups," a class which I supposedly should be a card-carrying member of. I wonder what I did that night while my young destiny was silently being altered across town at my unattended prom. Did I play Nintendo or work on some stupid program, without the knowledge that both activities were subconsciosly preparing me for this life in California? Probably. Nintendo, programming, and masturbation were my holy trinity of activity. Okay. Okay. "Young destiny" is a bit much. But I'm a big believer in chaos theory. I think even the utterly insignificant events have an incalculable, but nonetheless present, impact on us all. If I had gone to that prom, or said a few more sweet nothings, or opened up to the possibility that anyone could have cared half a fuck about my existance, then who knows? Maybe I'd find myself getting married in two weeks. Maybe I'd spend my days in Pennsylvania with litters of kids. Maybe I'd even be content. Or happy. Isn't it funny? Happiness isn't a boolean state; it's not on or off, like a light switch. Video-game-hacker-in-California happy isn't the same as family-guy-in-Pennsylvania happy, but they are both happiness, all the same. Hhm. So if any passes this email on to the happy couple (as my emails apparently have trouble sitting still in people's inboxes), please tell them that I wish them BOTH the best. And as a wiser man than I once said: "May you live as long as you like, and love as long as you live." --ryan.