Last Saturday was my 20th high school reunion. A stupid rite of passage that is as big or as small a deal as you make it. I didn’t want to go. At all. For reasons that will be omitted from this post. One of my solo shows, Some Kind of Pink Breakfast, gives details in a rather entertaining way.
That piece has been given a permanent vacation, sorry to say. If you missed it, you had four different runs of the piece to see it. And, no, you cannot see the video. Sorry. If you ever produce and market the work you create and perform yourself, you’ll understand why.
There’s a special anxiety flavor that goes with this rite of passage. The recipe is full of questions of who will be there, what will get brought up, what will people look like, and will it all turn out alright. And, if you were at all human, there’s a chunk of left-over dread of just being around a lot of people who radiated that special blend of adolescent joy and MISERY.
Except for bumping into a couple of classmates randomly after college, it had been 20 years since I’d seen these people.
Carolyn and I met up with my buddy Geoff and his wife at their home in Greensboro en route to the hotel. I must say Greensboro has improved with age. I guess because it has 5 colleges in it. The important spots from my time were still there. Seeing Geoff was great. 10 minutes in and I saw all the old quirks and phrases he used in childhood. He was talking about 9/11 and I was smiling because I was so happy to see him.
We arrived an hour into it. There was a placard that read “In Memorium” with pictures of classmates who had died, committed suicide, or been murdered (one was set on fire). As I was taking that in, my good friend Roland came bounding up and gave a rundown on all the different deaths. I went green. He said, “well, let’s go eat. We paid for it.” Roland’s always had a special talent for navigating things like this with up-front charm.
I wandered the buffet and circled the cheese and fruit spread and headed for the bar. I was in a daze. Carolyn asked if everyone had divided up into their cafeteria tables. They had.
The turn-out was small. Maybe 50 or so (with significant others) from a class of about 310. One friend called me that day and said he refused to go. I can understand and respect that. If I went off of how I felt, I wouldn’t have gone either. I just didn’t want to have anyone from that time to have anything over my head anymore.
There were 15 or so people I was really, genuinely glad to see and felt better for seeing them again. Everybody looked the same or better. I felt a little regret for not keeping up with everyone over the years. I guess that happens. My 5th grade girlfriend who now has 6 kids wasn’t there because she opted for the family picnic earlier in the day.
One friend was using the exact same lines and quotes from things he did in 1986. That was like standing next to a time machine.
Because our class was so big, there were people I recognized but didn’t really know. One girl flat out did not know me at all. I went straight to a yearbook to find her old picture and felt vindicated. I didn’t know her either. Ha!
I’ve wondered what mysterious force ordains certain people popular while others must be picked on. My conclusion is that people were not designed to be around each other during puberty. High school would go better if it started at 32 instead of 14.
This video was released just before I started 9th grade at Andrews High School. I was 4’9″ and 89 pounds with a size 3 1/2 shoe. Like Waldo, riding the bus wasn’t for me.