Like Walt Disney Studios releasing a beloved classic from its vault in the early 2000s, I decided I would bless my loyal readers with a blast from the past photo of me circa January 2012.
Since this unfortunate photo has a lot going on, let’s break it down together:
- The desolate, brown surroundings. This photo was taken in a small town near Ocala, Florida, that I used to refer to as the “pit of death.” (What can I say? I had a biting wit back then.) My sister and brother-in-law lived there during their first year of marriage, and I was in town visiting them for a week. Unfortunately, the lush landscape one would expect in Florida didn’t apply to this area that I came to believe mirrored a post-apocalyptic terrain.
- The hair. Like Rapunzel, I too used to have luscious locks. Or, more accurately, I used to have what I can only describe as a smalltown version of a Justin Bieber haircut. And let me tell you, underneath that unkept swoop was some of the palest skin ever seen. I thought the style made me seem trendy and carefree, but looking back, I now recognize how ill-fitting the hairstyle was.
- The shirt. To avoid being wasteful with my apparel purchases, I never bought name brand clothing. Instead, I would go to Labels Shopper, a discount store near my hometown, to hunt down items that looked like famed clothing brands if you squinted your eyes. That’s how I ended up with the “USA Majestic Bird” shirt in this photo, which, let me tell you, I wore every chance I had.
- The knife. If you couldn’t tell from the bleak landscape behind me, there wasn’t much to do in the town where my sister lived. We were hours from the ocean, and the nearest Walmart was over 30 minutes away. This prompted me to take up hobbies I might not have tried if I were anywhere else in the world, one of which was knife throwing. I imagined I was a homeschooler training to be an assassin, and I approached the whole experience with the same steely, self-taught determination that led me to read all fifty-eight Hardy Boys books during my childhood. My resolve to master this impractical hobby translated to me standing outside for hours at a time throwing knives at a tree stump. Thank goodness most of the neighbors were intently focused on raising their already lifted trucks to seemingly impossible heights because I’m sure I in all my knife throwing glory was an odd sight to behold.
After taking in that photo, you may be thinking, “Dan, why in the world would you release that from the vault?” My answer is two-fold. First, I figure I should publish any photos that could be leaked to TMZ on the off-chance I become a celebrity in the future. Second, something I love to do as I move forward in life is to remember where I’ve come from, and boy, have I come a long way since then.