Saturday, April 3, 2010

Class Reunions: A Rant ...

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Note: I wrote the first part of this "Rant" a few years ago. Having vented my self-righteous sarcasm, it was then posted at Authors' Den and, until last night, I forgot all about it. The second part, I think the most surprising part, I wrote this morning. Open mouth, change feet ...

1967 - 2007 ...
I’ve only attended two of my high school class reunions. I’ve gone to my tenth and the thirty-fifth. The main reason I’ve only attended two is that I’ve always lived too far away from my home state of Ohio. So, it was logistics and the fact that they most often held them at the end of August. That was right when my children had to return to school and it made all but those two reunions prohibitive.

Some may argue that two reunions aren’t enough to make a valid and unbiased comparison. Some may also argue that two reunions aren’t enough to base either like or dislike on and, okay, I can and do respect your opinions. Our experiences were different, I’m sure, but thank God I’ve only had to attend two ...

If I had to give it a name, the tenth reunion would be called:

The Reunion of "The I Haves" ...

I have this degree
I have this career
I have this position in my career
I have this salary

Man, do I have this salary ...

I have this wife/husband
She/he has this degree
She/he has this career
She/he has this position in her/his career
She/he has this salary

Man, does she/he have this salary ...

I have these children
I have this nanny
I have them in private schools
I have them in summer camp

I have this country club membership
I have lessons by a golf pro
I have this handicap in golf
I have children on the swim team
I have children at the tennis courts

I have this gym membership,
I have this trainer
I have six-pack abs, a tight tush, a weekly massage

I have this boat
I have this summer cottage
I have this time share/condo
I have this expensive car/Porsche
I have a collection of old cars

I have this house/estate
I live in this expensive suburb
I have this backyard spa/pool and a cabana

I have this plastic surgeon
I have a smaller nose, bigger boobs
thinner thighs, tighter waist, more prominent chin, et al

I have this phenomenal sex life
I have always had a crush on you ... want to fool around?
Does "no" really mean ... "no"?
Why the hell not?

The only reason I attended the second reunion, the thirty-fifth, was because of my three best friends from high school -- I love them dearly and I hadn’t seen them in years and I missed them. They convinced me that we owed it to each other to go to the damned thing. We could stay up all night remembering, giggling, and gossiping, just like old times.

Afterwards, I didn’t even have to think about what the title for the second reunion would be. That was easy:

The Reunion of the "I Still Have, But" ...

I still have this degree, but
I hate the field I chose and at my age,
I can’t change horses in the middle of the road

I still have this career, but
I’m worried, the company is downsizing
and at my age, yadda yadda yadda ...
I’m worried about having enough money
for retirement, social security, my pension

I still have my hair, but
it's from hair implants, transplants, a toupe, a wig

I still have my teeth, but
they’re false, they’re implants, they're caps

I still have my wife/husband, but
he/she is fat
he/she is an alcoholic, takes drugs, runs around

Or: this is wife/husband #2, #3, or (God forbid), #4, but
I’m tired of paying alimony to the first, second, et al
we have nothing in common because she/he is so much younger than I

I still have my children, but
they live far away, they’re in jail, they live with my wife,
they have kids of their own, they moved back home

I still have a country club membership, but
my arthritis keeps me from playing golf, tennis

I still have my boat, but
I’m saving for retirement and I can’t afford
the marina fees, the upkeep, et al
I am trying to sell it
Or: I’ve just given it to the kids

I still have a gym membership, but
I can’t keep up with the passage of time
I look too fat in my workout gear to go
my trainer is too busy chasing all the young hard bodies there

I still have my car, but
now it’s a sensible car.
I sold my Porsche and the antique cars

I still have my home, but
it needs a new roof, a new driveway,
my ex lives in it and I moved into the condo

I still have a plastic surgeon, but
now he’s on the “I Have” list --
my wives/husbands and I put him there

I still have my health, but
I have a new heart, a pacemaker, hip/knee implants, et al

I still have a sex life, but
Now it's only on the computer
Now I take Viagra
I still have a crush on you ... want to fool around?
But that’s what you said twenty-five years ago ...
But does "no" still mean ... "no"?
But why the hell not?

A couple of years ago in August, my high school held our 40th class reunion. Was I there? Negative. I was afraid of what name I might have had to attach to that one ...

Like clockwork, my best friends from high school called, but I suggested we meet somewhere along the seacoast, maybe at a cute little bed and breakfast near the water -- that was more my style. We had a great time and we did stay up half the night remembering and giggling and gossiping.

In my humble opinion, this should be a requirement for attending all class reunions: Put a box with a sign outside the door going into the building -- “Drop your "I Haves" and your "I Still Have, But" in the box before entering.”

I wish I could trust a class reunion enough to go willingly. I would love to talk about the good old days with those I thought of as my second family -- God knows, we spent more time together than with our own families during those high school years. To me, reliving the multitude of happy memories -- the football and basketball games, cruising the Tastee Freeze and Main Street, the difficult teachers we shared, and the myriad of other invaluable coming of age stories would be priceless. Sadly, those aren’t the things people want to talk about.

I only hope that I wasn’t as shallow as those that I now want to avoid ...

(Update: April 3, 2010:) This past September 2009, I went to one last reunion. Yes, I know I said I wouldn't ... anyway, it was to be the first ever multi-class five-year reunion and would include the graduating classes of two of my siblings. I did see the merit to this, in theory anyway. What fun it would be, getting to see classmates that I wouldn't otherwise get to see ... kids from other classes that I routinely passed in the halls, kids I sat next to at football and basketball games, or passed notes with in study halls. Some would even be the neighborhood kids who had hung out at my house with my younger sibs.

I have to admit, this class reunion was different. It was as different as black and white or night and day, in many ways. After forty-something years, everyone who attended was just happy to be there. Gone were the pretenses, as well as the old cliques, and the most surprising of all -- the "haves" and "still haves, but" just weren't important topics any more. Those things had all but faded away and, in their place, were new discussions about which classmates or children or family members had passed on ... and there were many.

There was something else that was different. There was an air of magic surrounding the whole reunion, all five classes of it, and everyone who was there seemed to sense it, as well. No one cared any more about anything other than rekindling long ago friendships and sharing how important we all still were to one another with hugs and yes, even tears. There were even a few of us that were lucky enough to fall in love ...

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