Inscriptions from a yearbook

In which Bill reveals what people said about him in high school
Dec 022014
Bill's high school yearbook photo
Bill’s 17-year-old Head*

Shortly after writing a recent, wildly-popular post wherein I briefly discussed yearbooks, I came upon my yearbook from my senior year in high school whilst cleaning out a bookcase.

Reading through the messages written by long-ago friends and acquaintances I was struck first of all by some very sincere and touching inscriptions by people I have absolutely no recollection of. For example, this one from someone whose name might be Sean (I can’t decipher the signature) and whom I don’t remember but apparently had a positive influence on:

Thanx a lot for a helluva lot of inspiration.

This one, from someone possibly named Jimmy or Jerry, is baffling and a little alarming:

Thanks for teaching me to be a “real man.” And for the book on how to eat like a child.

What the hell is that about? Not what it sounds like, I assure you, because I would remember that.

While doing some research for this post (they’re all backed by research, you know!), I found an article titled “How to sign yearbooks with style” from Girls’ Life magazine. It has this tip:

Show off your super thoughtful self with a message that’s short, sure, but totally calls attention to your friendship. Even a quick “Couldn’t have it [sic] made it through U.S. history without ya!” will make your bud smile, and will help ya recall the school year decades from now.

That’s probably what my buds Sean and Jimmy or Jerry thought they were doing, sure, but it totally didn’t work. I would add these tips: write legibly and include your last name so that decades from now the recipient can find you in the index and figure out who you were.

My French teacher wrote something that is both in hard-to-read cursive handwriting and in French, so I have no idea what she said, which is a shame because I liked her. I can make out fromage, anyway, and plaisir, so that sounds positive.

Speaking of “what the hell is that about,” I have no idea who these “little people” are, but if I’m honest it sounds plausible:

A long-forgotten yearbook inscription

You’re so scary! But I love ya’ anyway! You’ve definitely made an impression on my [high school] life & I’m not really sure if that’s good or bad! I’ve never been the same since those little people living in your locker in the 7th grade! You are a great guy though! You’re super talented & I know you’ll go far! Set your goals high & you’ll reach ’em! Good luck & keep up the sense of humor!

You know what’s scary? All those exclamation points! Would you believe she was a cheerleader?! But a really nice one! Of course we know now that you’re much more likely to reach your goals if you set ’em low.

Here’s a sweet one from someone I don’t think I ever heard from again (though I have thought of her from time to time):

[Redacted: Short message that totally calls attention to our friendship, and also includes an inside joke.] Plus I will call you, & you better keep in touch! I am SO glad we are friends, let’s stay that way!

This one (from someone I can almost call to mind) is a little sad, and also makes me wonder if I missed out on an opportunity:

HEY LIFES Been great huh! Im glad I got the chance to know you. Im not going to college so if you come home give me a call. I’ll be lonely! [phone number]§

I could spend some time philosophizing about all this, but mostly it just makes me wonder: why isn’t there a Web site devoted to collecting this stuff? Someone gave it a try at Awkward Yearbook Signatures, but didn’t get very far. There should be a, so maybe I’ll start that.


When I called my mom to ask if my senior pictures were still in the drawer at my parents’ house where I thought I remembered seeing them, she said, “Why? Do you need to prove to someone that you once had hair?” Thanks, mom. And remember that I have access to lots of embarrassing photos of you, plus the means to publish them to the world.
Bonus surprise: the use of thanx way back in 1989, long before txtspeak, with which I associate that sort of thing. The OED’s first reference is in 1936, though, fom H. L. Mencken, no less.
I think maybe I was inspired by the book Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche at the time.
Don’t worry! She doesn’t need your retrospective pity! Based on what I think her last name was I asked Internet and she seems to have turned out great.

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