07 June 2004

Not a gypsy

From the time I was in 7th grade until he moved away in 10th, I had an everlasting crush on this kid named Gaje. He was quirky, funny: he always made us laugh in that grim fastness of a middle school.

I remember his talent for rewriting/satirizing song lyrics: In the art room, as we all charged for the limited supply of gooey inkwells filled with gooberish glue, singing "Ev-er-y-body wants glue... I just want to make you mine all mine" and the fact that he knew how many times David Van Halen changed his spandex pants in the video for "Jump".

He was the first kid I knew who could do a credible moonwalk. Better still, he could do that flip up onto the tiptoes that Michael Jackson did, in his skull-and-crossbones Vans.

He was one of those kids who was super smart, but didn't give a crispy crap. He was always in honors French class with me, and honors this and that, but was constantly absent, or in trouble, or about to be.

Every year, some teacher would be wigged out by his weird name, and would end up asking him what it "means".

One year, I heard him tell the English teacher his name was a mixture of his two godparents' names... Gail and Jeff. Get it; the first two letters of each... Ga + Je = Gaje.

The next period, he told our French teacher it was Romanian for "not a gypsy".

After he moved away, I heard many rumors about his fate. I heard he was living in a trailer in New Hampshire. I heard he was in the desert in New Mexico. Then I heard he died of a drug overdose.

later, when I was in college, I met someone who spoke Romanian. Laughing, I told her the obviously fanciful story of Gaje translating to Not A Gypsy. She slowed, stared at me, and told me that yes, Ga'je (two syllables) does mean "not a gypsy."


Well, I'll tell ya right now, this is not a "but he's dead now" story. Hell, I've thought he was dead for years. No, he just showed up on my high school reunion website. He's living in Brazil, playing the pennywhistle and guitar in various bands. Among his interests, he included "making up new lyrics to radio songs."

Gaje, I am so glad to have you back among the living. Gail and Jeff would be proud.

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