My Class Reunion

benbois-graduationI called my buddy Stan to ask a question.

“Are you going to the class reunion?”

“What reunion?”

“The class of ’69. It’s our 50th this year.”

“Do you think they will let us in?”

He has a point.

Neither of us can recall how many times we were expelled from high school or even from which one, so the question of what reunion to attend remains open.

At least we have options.

Come to think of it, neither Stan nor I actually graduated. We took off hitch-hiking six weeks before the end of our senior year. Which raises the question: is a diploma a prerequisite for attending a reunion?

Regardless, we will still show up.

Most people attend reunions to reconnect with childhood friends, and that is motivation enough.

It certainly isn’t nostalgia.

But let’s not knock nostalgia. It is the very thing that proves God loves us. In his infinite wisdom, the almighty made the memory of pleasurable things so much more powerful than the memory of all the unpleasurable things we have endured.

Science back this up. It is sleep that makes us forget. During slumber the brain washes itself with waves of forgetting. Think of it as breakers crashing against a beach, eroding away the weakest and most unpleasant landmarks.

Which makes you wonder why anyone remembers high school.

So a reunion becomes like an archaeological expedition through all the things grace helped us forget.

So what is the point of attending, other than to meet old friends?

Perhaps it is to measure what we have become against what we once were.

Or to brag about what a big success we made of ourselves. This rarely works, it merely reminds others of what a jerk we once were and how little has changed.

But I want to go to reconnect with people I didn’t know all that well.

I want to meet the ones who never challenged authority, who never raised a fuss, who always kept their head down and did what was expected of them.

The quiet ones.

Back then, these kids were as invisible as dark matter but like the stuff that makes up the bulk of the universe, they made up the majority of the student body.

They never lettered in sports nor chaired a committee nor fretted over who was going with whom and how they could score an invite to a popular kid’s party.

They just soldiered on.

To be honest, in those days, I held contempt for people like that. I always wanted more than they did and was willing to make a fool of myself to get it. I could never do what they did, which was to take the easiest and most obvious path.

Now any nostalgia that I have for my high school days is tinged with regret. Not that things didn’t turn out well for me – but rather that it took so long and cost so much to get back to where I should have been in the first place.

“Stan?”

“Yeah?”

“If you had to do it all over again, what would you change?”

“Nothing.”

“Really?”

“Do overs never work.”

“Why not?”

“Because you only find new ways to screw up.”

[sigh]

“I suppose you are right.”

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

47 thoughts on “My Class Reunion”

  1. I was going to comment on this post, and then I read your comment on John’s blog. Suffice it to say, I suspect you might wish for a do-over on your little pre-blizzard trip. But things do happen, and it’s always a blessing when no serious damage is done. I hope you’ve thawed out, and I hope your part of the country’s going to start warming — soon.

  2. “So a reunion becomes like an archaeological expedition through all the things grace helped us forget.” This is probably the biggest reason for me that high school reunions are risky. I remember too much already! But I enjoyed your reflection on the pros and cons of going and excavating memories. I have gone to my last two high school reunions and thoroughly enjoyed them much to my surprise! I reconnected with a couple of girlfriends I had not seen in years and we stay in touch regularly now, making the effort to see each other face to face when they vacation in Maine.

  3. Sounds like it’s a bit of a crap shoot for different folks. I suspect many folks have a fair idea of what to expect, based on the size and dispersal of “the old gang.” As for me, I think I had a schedule conflict with #40, not that I was that motivated. I was one of those invisible ones….

  4. I loved the line about how in the world we manage to remember high school when most of our bad memories are washed away! That is so true. I have gone to a few reunions, and for the most part, they were fine. It’s interesting to see each other through adult eyes, without the labels we had then. And fun to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. But there are also those awkward moments with some people you have absolutely nothing in common with. As for do overs, I agree with Stan!

    1. Perhaps the most embarrassing thing ever at a reunion was a friend of mine who walked up to a woman and said, “Mrs. Gruber, where’s Cindy?” It was Cindy, who became the spitting image of her mother…even the hair-do.

  5. Greg, I attended my 50th & 60th high school reunion. Yeah, It was fun meeting old high school friends, those still alive. Every year from the last reunion the old girlfriend gang get together for a mini-reunion. We never get tired of reminiscing about the good old times. 😊 Christine

  6. I attended my 40th high school class reunion a few years back and found it the most enjoyable one yet. I’ve attended nearly every one. This reunion was different in that everyone talked to everyone. It didn’t matter who you were in high school. Those labels were gone.

  7. Amen!

    “Do overs never work.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because you only find new ways to screw up.”

    I’ve been to exactly 2 high school reunions and I can tell you I’ve never felt less united with a group of people than I did at those reunions. 🤨

    1. I went with my wife to one of her reunions. She grew up in a small town and more than half the class left soon after graduation. There was a strong disconnect between them and the people who remained.

        1. Gosh George, I’m not really sure about that. Most of what I know about wiseguys is from Hollywood, not New Jersey. I would imagine Goodfellas is to mobsters what Roy Rogers is to cowboys. On the other hand, I have actually witnessed Iowa boys hit a running coyote at 1,000 yards with .223. Not sure I’d wanna get on their bad side. 🙂 🙂

  8. Oh the infinite wisdom of Stan. 🙂 Every time I think I wish I could go back and do it differently, I just sip my wine and remain thankful that it’s over. Hahaha! 🙂

      1. I hear you there. Think of how many celebrities have been brought down by some seemly innocuous comment they made years ago.

        They say the greatest tragedy is that we were all born ignorant, now we get to be reminded of that forever.

  9. I never got an invite to the 50th. The 60th is this year and I’ll probably not get an invite to it as well. Just as well. Had to laugh at Stan’s belief on “Do-Overs.”

  10. School reunion???…..’enough to raise a chilled sweat. Hated high school after a reasonable primary experience. Never want to see any of them again.
    Went to a sporting reunion once….that was stressful enough.
    Now each day is a new one. If I mess up, I just move on, learning from it. Life’s the best school.

    1. Now each day is a new one. If I mess up, I just move on, learning from it. Life’s the best school.

      That is the best approach to life. Living in the present rather than wishing for a different past.

  11. I haven’t been to one, yet. Someone reached out for the 40th. I passed. 45th, passed. 50th is a few years away but I think I’ll pass. I might have been one of the quiet ones, but I still managed to get into a lot of trouble. Report back if you go. Or, make something up if you don’t.

  12. You should definitely go… if for no other reason than pages of blog fodder! I went to my husband’s 40th and we giggled all night that the high school floozy was still a floozy, only now she had 40 years worth of practice.

    1. Yeah, every once in a while a bit of me shines through the humor. It is the side that tells my children, “you know all the things you feel so certain about… Well….”.

      As for going to the reunion, the school that most of my friends went to no longer exists. It belonged to a parish that was the anchor of a mostly German neighborhood. Now the building houses a school for immigrants from Myrammar (Burma). Like so many ethnic neighborhoods, old ethnicities die off and new ones take their place. Like so much of modern life, it leaves one rootless.

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