I recently had the pleasure of attending my 20 year High School reunion.
Given that this is a very boring topic for those who did not attend my school, I have decided to throw in some gratuitous references to pop culture that have absolutely nothing to do with this column. This is done in a very subtle manner solely to increase blog traffic. I love it when imbeciles link to my column based on word searches without actually reading the column.
Although I am proud to have been born in Brooklyn, I actually attended school on Long Island. I have always said that for those who have never been to Long Island, save your money because there is no reason to go whatsoever. For those who live on Long Island, pretend to be offended while secretly admitting I am right. Growing up, my home was always 20 minutes from “something.”
Thankfully I was able to take part in a political function before the reunion, since business trips are what I do.
While my school experiences absolutely sucked on virtually every level, the best thing I did was go to my 10 year reunion. The nice people showed up, the creeps stayed home, and I buried the demons. Going to my 20 year reunion, I was completely at peace.
(The fact that I was successful, and therefore significantly more handsome, certainly helped matters. Sleeping with a smart, hot girlfriend also makes me more pleasant than I was growing up.)
The reunion was a fantastic experience. The two ladies who did most of the work should be given the equivalent of gold stars for the refrigerators. The slide shows they put together were brilliantly done.
The music was pure 1980s, which was fitting for the class of 1990. Although the dj did screw up by playing one song from that infernal LADY GAGA (for those wanting more updates on Lady Blah Blah, I say…well…blah blah), the rest of the night he remembered what generation was being represented.
As for me, I am on the road 300 days per year, and was glad to be able to fit this event in between San Diego and Arkansas. To mark the occasion, I broke out my 1980s style Miami Vice turquoise suit. The reason why I dressed like that is simple. I can. Most people can’t pull it off. Next time it is pink or yellow. Everybody else was dressed normal. Their loss.
Two of my fellow students I grew up with both attended the 10 year reunion. At that event, they ended up falling in love. At the 20 year reunion they were a married couple with a child. If that does not justify attending reunions, I cannot think of what does.
A sad occurrence was seeing one of our former class presidents being at less than full capacity due to a tragic car accident shortly after graduation. I hope God looks after him always. His attitude is very positive, which is admirable.
A sadder occurrence was that the son of one my favorite schoolteachers growing up gave us the bad news that his father had died 2 months earlier. I let him know how much his father meant in my life. I am sure many students felt that way, and I hope this gives the guy a bit of solace. Whether a person is 6 or 60 or 38, we are never prepared for losing our loved ones. I have my parents by the Grace of God, but still miss my grandparents.
One girl was there in a wheelchair. I did not ask about the circumstances because it was not my business. At the end of the evening I approached her, and received the most positive surprise of the entire night. Her husband, despite never attending our school, knew me from when we were 6 years old. For 2 years I attended a private school with him. He and I still had memories from 1978. He was not at this reunion, but thanks to FACEBOOK, we are now in touch.
The reunion was a reminder at how fleeting everything is. Seeing people with physical and mental handicaps before age 40 was frightening. Their sunny perspectives made it less painful to think about.
In addition to those in attendance, focus was also on those not attending. One of our classmates is currently in Afghanistan. He comes home soon. Rich, thank you for your service, and in advance, welcome home.
There were 2 girls growing up I did not get along with. Both were at the reunion. I took one of them aside, and said to her, “I was a real pr*ck to you growing up.” She laughed hysterically and said, “I was not that nice to you either.” She is now married with a stepchild, and the one reason I hated not getting along with her growing up was because both of our mothers got along very well. She and I took a picture together, and my mom was very happy. She wants everybody to like everybody.
The girl I liked when I was in 5th grade was there. She does not share my politics. Yet she is every bit as nice and sweet as when we were kids. Even back then I had great taste in girls. Her husband hit the jackpot.
The girl in 12th grade who scared all the boys to death was there with her husband. She laughed when I reminded her how tough she was. She still is that tough. She laughed when I pointed out to her that 4 different boys congratulated me for merely approaching her in school. Apparently getting shot down in flames was a badge of honor, since the others were to petrified to even ask.
Not one person at the reunion within earshot brought up any idiocies from today’s culture. Thankfully the 1980s did not infect the world with SNOOKIE, J-LO, LILO (which apparently either means LINDSAY LOHAN or a character that hangs out with Stitch, whoever that is), or PARIS HILTON.
Some of the people in the room had read my blog, and told me that they agreed with my politics. I am glad this was done privately, because I really wanted it to be an apolitical evening. I slipped once when at the end of the evening one of the attendees said they looked forward to seeing me one day on CNN. I corrected them in a laughing way and pointed out, “not CNN…Fox News.” Except for that one remark, I was thrilled that the evening was apolitical.
Politics was mostly absent, but economics was not. Many people could not attend the reunion because of the tough economic times. I am doing reasonably well, but I am under no illusions that at any moment things can change for anybody. I was thankful that enough people were in a financial position strong enough to attend.
While there was talk about doing a 30 year reunion, I hope they do one at 25 years. The difference between age 43 and 48 is very large. 43 is still relatively young. 48 is pushing 50. At 38 this was our last reunion where we were still “young.”
Some of the people did not age. Others gained stuff (weight), lost stuff (hair), and in the best cases, found stuff (love, marriage, and children). The best aspect of the reunion was that the people who showed up with spouses and loved ones from the 10 year reunion were with the same people a decade later. In an unstable world, the graduating class of 1990 seemed fairly stable in that department.
The one thing I will take away from the reunion more than anything else was that it was worth attending. For those who are thinking of skipping their reunion because of a lousy childhood, don’t do that. No matter how painful a person’s past, a pleasant present can beget a very bright future.
The temptation at this point is to Facebook everybody, say hello once or twice, and then not communicate again until the next reunion. I hope I do better than that. I hope that despite having an insanely busy life, that I appreciate these people by keeping in touch, at least 3 or 4 times per year.
They are a part of my life, and I have positive memories of them all. As we get older, the bad times fade away and the good times get enhanced. Adulthood and maturation humble us, which makes us better people.
May God forever shine his light on and bless those who attended my 1990 class 20 year reunion. If they represent even a small slice of America, then the best days of this nation itself are still in front of us.