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Monday, August 18, 2008

And It Seems To Be The Way That Everyone Else Gets Around

Made a road-trip down south to go to my 30th high school reunion. I've been to a couple in the past, most recently the 25 year reunion, and attended again with just the smallest trepidation.

The thing about reunions is they're sort of the social equivalent of rubber-necking accidents on the freeway: everyone is older, balder, fatter, more unrecognizeable with each passing year, particularly when you either only see them once every five years, or, as was the case with many of my fellow classmates who attended this time around, you literally haven't set eyes on each other since the day you graduated. So, there's that definite sense of craning your neck to see if you do in fact recognize someone, or conversely, staring blankly at someone and having absolutely no idea who they are.

I guess we had a rather large graduating class by some standards, about 360 or so, if I recall correctly. And the thing is, you realize very quickly what a small number of them you had any kind of real social interaction. It wasn't until about my junior year that I experienced tentative inroads into the "A List set", that rarified elite of star athletes, cheerleaders, student government busy bodies, yearbook staff, et al, and until then my social circle was apparently fairly miniscule. Of the 150 or so alums who showed up for the festivities, I recognized maybe half (and that only because of the nametags-with-graduation-photo-attached), but the others? I had no idea who they were, couldn't recall having any of them in classes, or doing extra-curricular activities with any of them. Presumably, they represent that overwhelming mass in the middle of the bell curve: the majority of average kids who go through the educational process essentially invisible, never causing problems on the one hand, nor necessarily excelling in any particular skill or activity on the other.

Still, it was fun to catch up with a few people, the ones I did know 30 years ago, and with whom I still seemed to share at least enough common interest to be able to hold a congenial, if not particularly deep conversation with for five or ten minutes. Interestingly, we also seemed to comprise a significant number of those who managed to get the heck out of town at the earliest possible opportunity, and never look back.

Many of the kids in my graduating class apparently never left town, and while they've maintained contact with each other over the years, they also tend to emanate a strong scent of attempting to re-achieve past glory about them, as exemplefied by the charity basketball game held on Friday evening between members of our squad, which won a district championship during our Senior year, and the 2007-2008 championship squad. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that a bunch of over-the-hill guys pushing 50 are simply not going to be a match for a squad of healthy 18 and 19 year-olds, who played together only a few months ago; the kids were nice, kept things easy, let to old farts stay in the game until the 4th quarter, when they basically shut them down, although they still allowed the final score to be much closer than it had any right to be.

But the funny thing was, the old geezers spent most of the remainder of the weekend crowing over the fact that they managed to "lose" the game by less than 10 points; as if the kids HADN'T been slacking, and they'd actually maintained something resembling a competitive edge against them. They showed the game at least twice during the get-together on Saturday night, and many of them spent almost the entire evening in front of a big-screen TV pointing out their great moves, not really noticing that the kids they're playing are keeping distance, as if they were afraid too much contact in-close would injure one of these ancients stumbling-and-sweating themselves silly.

I suppose there's a certain satisfaction in returning, however briefly, to ones "glory days", but some of these guys seem to have a permanent address at that hotel; if the sheer level of self-delusion weren't somewhat amusing, it would just be sad and pathetic.

As for me, well, it was fun while it lasted, and I will probably try to keep contact with a handful of people I ran into, but frankly, I feel much better living in the here-and-now.

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Posted byCOMTE on 12:03 PM

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