This actually happened.
One day, in my junior year of high school, my friend Beverly (no names in this story have been changed) recited the following limerick:
There once in the town of Caruthers
Lived the two Johannesburg brothers
They wrote in good verse
But never rehearsed
And so their last line always ended up a hell of a lot longer than all the others.
It was catchy, the way limericks are, and kind of funny the more times you said it aloud, which we did, often. At some point, Beverly told me that the limerick had been written by a boy in her junior high school named Troy Green. He was African American and had a twin brother. These were the only things she could remember about him and I remembered these details as well, which is a bit of foreshadowing, in case you haven’t figured that out.
Years later, when I was about 24 years old, my friend Emily had a party in her parents’ house in Brooklyn, which was two houses down the block from my aunt’s house and how we had met two years earlier.
Now here’s the weird thing about high schools in New York. If you ended up going to one of the specialized high schools and were about the same age, you pretty much always knew some of the same people, despite how enormous these schools were. You will notice that any New Yorkers who meet each other for the first time will always ask, What high school did you go to? It’s all we’ve got.
Meanwhile, sometime during this party, I was out on the front porch, the steps of which had once been broken at a party Emily’d had in high school by a guy I’d ended up sharing a house with in college. See? We all know each other. I started talking to this guy Brian and I found out that he was from Bayside, Queens. Turns out he had gone to junior high school with Beverly. You see what’s happening here, right?
At some point, Brian said, Reyna, I want to introduce you to my brother, and we went inside the house. Somehow, despite my drunkenness (it was a party!), things were coming together in my head. Slowly though. Brian led me to some guy sitting on the couch and said, Reyna, this is my brother Troy. Are you twins? I gasped, even though they looked nothing alike. Yes, said Brian, somewhat surprised. You’re Troy? I shouted. Troy Green? Yes, said Troy Green, also somewhat surprised. And then, well, you can guess what I shouted next (see: limerick above).
Troy looked stunned. I wrote that in the seventh grade! he shouted. I know! I shouted back. Then there was a lot more shouting and laughing and I’ll admit that I assumed that Troy Green was pretty much going be my boyfriend after that, but I’m afraid that’s not how things went. Meanwhile, there were a bunch of other things that went on at that party, which are not quite appropriate for this story, but some hours later, remembering Troy Green, I asked my friend George just what was going on. Shouldn’t Troy Green want to be my boyfriend? I demanded, admittedly drunkenly and also, age 24, in case you forgot. George said, Well, yeah, under ordinary circumstances, but do you remember that kind of angry-looking woman sitting next to him on the couch when you guys were talking and laughing? No, not at all, I said. Yeah, said George. That’s Troy’s girlfriend.
And that was the last time I ever saw Troy Green. To his girlfriend: I sincerely apologize. To Troy Green: Thanks for writing in good verse. To my younger self: If you keep paying attention to things like this, you will have some pretty good stories to tell.