Reunion Thoughts

Let’s honor one more late-autumn passage before we head into the clash and tinkle of  Christmas: I mean the time-honored high school reunion, so often held in the days just after Thanksgiving.

Who under 90 does not anticipate this event without at least a twinge of apprehension? We were so young, and undefended against the judgment of our peers! I opened my old yearbook and felt it all again.

“To Terry: Never forget Chemistry!” someone wrote next to his smiling picture and the fact that I never took a single day of Chemistry in my life bothered me not at all. He had called me Terry, and added exclamation points.

“Best of luck to a swell kid,” wrote somebody else, but was I ever that? I remember being a timid kid, despite all my gay chatter as I strode along the hallways, my textbooks clutched tight to my chest. I know I was an anxious and an earnest kid, thrilled to be singing in the Chorus, and the Special Chorus, thrilled to be acting in the odd old-fashioned plays our ancient Miss Casey chose to be put on by us Drama nerds.

I was thrilled even to be part of the European Culture Club where we ignored grainy slides of Paris while whispering in the back of the room.

These were “activities”: what they told us we would need for our “permanent record.”

I also remember this: that in the Slam Book where people were expected to write blunt and candid things about each other I had been called a “poser.” I didn’t know what the word even meant and had to ask that girl at my lunch table.

” It’s true! I am a poser!” I thought when she exaplained it to me and for the rest of the year hung my head as often as I held it high.

But all that was then, and this is now.

Five years ago, my class put on a jam-packed reunion, complete with a tour of the old school, a pub night, and tickets to Saturday’s game, all before the big dinner in the hotel ballroom. But with my old reticence again in full flower, I managed only to attend that last event, where I didn’t even dance but instead lurked sadly over by the coffee, studying the fresh-faced pictures of the classmates now deceased.

So this time, in 2011, I wanted to do things differently. According when our just-passed reunion was announced last spring, I volunteered to join the planning committee. I knew only a few people on it. But even if I had known them all and they me, who would we have known really? We were all of us so young, all posers in our way,  fakin’ it to make it  in that looming grownup world.

I marveled at the two committee members who searched and called and searched some more until they had found almost all of our 800+ classmates, and could practically recite each one’s street address and circumstance. I loved all our meetings, in rainy spring, and swoony June and ripening autumn.

And when the big night came it was more than great.

I talked with Rob W and Debby S, with Dick S and Frank M and Sam P, with Jane T and Cheryl M and Allison C.

Mike M I get to see often but Ilona W I hadn’t laid eyes on since graduation.  Coming up to me that night she said, “I knew you right away, even from the back – Well, after adjusting for the maturation factor of course!”

We both laughed right out loud at that. So I guess humor lives on, and candor lives; and kindness too.

There was a lot of kindness on display that night, especially when that one guy’s belt broke on the dance floor and his pants fell down. All night long I watched the dancers, smiling my face off. Here are a couple of pictures of two pals, Mary Ann and Ilona.

m paraskos & ilona w


the good old Electric Slide that brings so many together 🙂

And my new resolve, for the next reunion?  To go to all future reunions and talk to everyone there. To leave the deceased ones in their corner by the coffee, and to dance myself.