punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Uncle Punkie's Famous Files

I was going to title this, "Why I am so Effeminate: I Went to High School With a Lesbian and an Interior Decorator," but that's not really true. I mean, why I am effeminate. That's a topic for another post. But what is true is that my high school alumni tree is starting to sprout some... odd branches. Now there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian or an interior decorator, even if you're not gay like the unfair stereotype (I happen to like pastels). So I titled this for what it is: shameless name-dropping. I feel so ashamed for posting this, but I wanted to show what a small world we live in, and for a little "I touched someone famous" stupidity. We all have our "brush with greatness," so here's a few of mine. Okay, see that nerd on the left? That's me, in 1986, as shot by our school photographer. Oh... well I am still nerdy at 34, so not much has changed (except I got fat again).

I graduated high school in 1987. I grew up in an upper-middle class neighborhood with the children of senators, famous lobbyists, lawyers, generals, and a few celebrities and wealthy business owners. I always knew some of these people who be in the spotlight someday. Just... well, we're all still in our early 30s, so who knows what lies in the future? But for now... here's what we got, and as a child of the 80s, I wouldn't have ever guessed this.

Okay, if you lived in the 1970s in the DC area, you knew "Jhoon Rhee's Self Defense" jingles by heart. Jhoon Rhee was a Korean immigrant who made Karate and Judo big in our area. "Noboddy boddahs meeeee... no boddy boddahs me... call USA-1000... Jhoon Rhee means might for right!" Then the two wee little kids who go, "No boddy boddahs me." and "No boddy boddahs me, eedah! [wink]" I went to school with those kids. The girl was MeMe Rhee, Jhoon's daughter. If I told you that she was hella-talented, I doubt you'd disagree. She was. She knew all the martial arts, Jazz dance, modern dance... always in the talent shows. Well dressed, too. Here she is on the right, straight from my 1986 yearbook, with her date, both voted as "Best dressed." Does her date look familiar? If you can't read the caption on the left, it says, "Consulting magazines such as Vogue and GQ give MeMe Rhee and Vernon Yip their flair for dressing. This made them the obvious choices for the Best Dressed award." Vernon Yip... hmmm... that face. Those of you who watch the hit TLC show "Trading Spaces," know him as Vern. He's probably more famous than MeMe right now. Here's his yearbook photo below.

Of course, there's more to this story. Back to the Jhoon Rhee ads, the boy who said "No boddy boddahs me," was named Michael Choe (friend of the Rhee family) [This has been corrected 2007-05-23: The little boy in the ad was Chun Rhee, Meme's older brother. Thanks to Lisa Lee, who is married to Chun, for the correction :)] . This story would have ended right here, but look who he's pictured next to. You may not recognize her right away, because the last photo I saw of her was with long hair. But she was very short-haired and butch in high school. She went on to defend the rights of homosexual people in the labor force, and was very famous in the GLIB community for that. But there's more. Her father's the current Vice President of the United States. Yep, that's Mary Cheney you see next to Michael, the very "lesbian daughter" the press got ahold of. But Mary's nothing to be ashamed of, she did really well for the rights of gays an lesbians in the workplace. It's just not... er, a Republican platform. I also went to school with the grand-daughter of Burl Ives... but perhaps I have said too much. [Years after this entry Mary and I chatted at our 20th High School reunion. She hasn't changed at all, she's still the same friendly Mary. She keeps in touch with all the alumni, and we bonded on an odd level - we're both former AOL employees]

I wish all these people well. It's not the path we would have predicted, but certainly they have gone onto greatness in their own unique way. They all did better than I have, and I am not doing too badly, so that's pretty good.

Small world, though, right?

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000021.html
Tags: childhood, jhoon rhee. mclean high school, mary cheney
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