My High School Reunion

Got a friend request on Facebook from a guy from my old school days, and it was such a kick to hear from him! (Foodleking, it was PG – think curly hair and barely-restrained anarchy.)

Facebook is more fun than you might think, if for no other reason than it allows you to stay tangentially connected to people who would otherwise drift away forever. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I do, but my attitude toward nostalgia changed somewhat when I attended my 20th high school reunion a year ago in October of 2007.

I wrote up the story back then for a family blog, but for PG and Foodleking’s sake, I hereby publicly share an expurgated version with names and telling biographical details omitted.

Mrs. Cornell and I flew down to LA for a relaxing weekend sans five kids, and we rented a convertible and cruised the freeways. Except the freeways were crowded, and having the top down on the freeway makes it impossible to hear anything. We ate lunch at El Cholo; we watched the Groundlings on Friday night, and we visited the USC campus to buy key chains for our kids.

But the highlight of the weekend was Saturday night, when the actual reunion happened. (The highlight for me, anyway. Mrs. Cornell was bored out of her gourd, but I was bored when I went to her reunion in July, so I guess we’re even. It was fun to show her off to everybody. She was much hotter than all the other ladies that I remembered lusting after in high school, all of whom are much, much older than me now.)

I have to admit, I was somewhat nervous going in. I knew that everyone else was going to be much richer than we were, and I was worried that no one would want to see me. I didn’t need to worry – it was a blast from beginning to end. I saw people I had completely forgotten, and I got to catch up with old friends.

And when I say old friends, I mean old. Everyone looked old. Very old. And fat. And bald. I was hairier and skinnier than 80% of the men there. It was very good for my ego. I thought, on the whole, the women aged better than the men did. Except my old friend DW. He and I did an Abbott and Costello routine for a cabaret in high school, and he was as fat as Costello back then. He’s rail thin now and looks great. Newly divorced, he does a Jerry Lewis impersonation in Vegas, yet he also manages apartment buildings in Thousand Oaks. (Methinks he spends more time in Thousand Oaks as an apartment manager than as a Vegas star, but I didn’t grill him on it.)

TM/F was there – a fellow Mormon who became a pot-smoking Deadhead and who is now a Mormon again. She lives here in Utah and wants a Woodland Hills reunion – she says she sees my brother every once in awhile.

CG showed up, and it was really fun to see her. She was my old theatre buddy who convinced me to run for Senior Class President. She got really mad when she found out I was a Republican. She turned pale and said “you don’t really believe that stuff, do you?” When I assured her that I did, she rattled off a series of what she considered to be unanswerable questions. “You mean you don’t hate Dick Cheney? You really like George Bush? You like this war? You really think he responded well to Katrina? You think he cares about the plight of the poor?”

The questions came as quickly as she could spew them, and I just tried to deflect them with a smile and a kind word. Understand that they weren’t challenges or invitations to discussion – they were statements of incredulity, asked in the same way someone might ask if I still believed in the Easter Bunny. In her mind, only a Neanderthal could answer affirmatively to any of her queries. She couldn’t conceive of a human being who could possibly agree with the GOP and still be deserving of her respect.

To her credit, after a minute or two, when she realized that I wasn’t getting upset or defensive, she calmed down, and we continued to reminisce about high school stuff. “I’m over it now,” she said. “We can be friends again.” And we were, and we will continue to be.

I saw SM from a distance – he was the guy who used to beat me up. I thought I was big enough that I could go and let bygones be bygones, but I decided I had nothing to say to him, so I let it slide. I don’t hate him, though. Although it was nice to see he was much fatter than me.

I had a hard time answering the question “so what do you do for a living?” None of my answers made any sense. I spent a lot of time talking to MS, a big, tall goofy guy who is still single and is now one of my Facebook friends. He tried out his pick-up line with the single ladies there. It went something like this. “Did you have a crush on me in high school?” When they said no – as they invariably did – he then asked “how about now?”

I can’t imagine why he’s still single.

JR from my old children’s choir was there, even though she graduated a year after me. She had married JE, the captain of the football team. She said that her sister, R, still plays the flute after Mom taught her. ( I told Mom this, and she has no memory of either R or J. )

KM was there – he’s a big TV star now, sort of. You may not know his name, but you’d recognize his face. He’s been on dozens of national TV commercials. When I went to say hello, he grabbed me and dragged me over to meet his wife and say “THIS is the guy who beat me for Senior Class President!” It was really weird what some people remember.

One girl, MB, played French Horn with me in junior high, and she insisted on taking a picture of us together so she could show her mom. I have very little memory of MB and I couldn’t believe I had ever met her mom. But if her mom is thrilled with a pic of me, who am I to deny my public?

Everybody still lives in Calabasas. Everybody has about two kids – we had the most at five, tied with RN, another Mormon girl. (Them Mormons is fertile!) Everybody was rich, but nobody seemed to have a job that would make someone rich. MG, who played opposite me as Marion in The Music Man, is now a flight attendant. That seemed appropriate. Yet she may have been the one who drove the Lamborghini that was parked out front.

As I think about it, it wasn’t just the age of these people that was disturbing. I was reminded of the line from Raiders of the Lost Ark: “it’s not the age, it’s the mileage.” These people had a lot of miles on them. They seemed hard and weathered. I suppose I seemed the same way to many of them, but I try not to think about it. I’ve got so many miles on me that it’s kind of hard to think coherently anyway.

So that’s my report. It was tons of fun. (Sorry to fixate on the weight so much.)
Religion and Politics
A Lack of Imagination

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.