Reflections on My 40th High School Reunion – How the Small Things Become Our Stories
I reflected today on my 40th high school reunion, three years ago. I recall I went back on my diet five months before the event. I was raring to go and Hope and I had figured out the “do I go” or “do I stay” spousal thing.
I think we come from different places, men and women that is. And we decide whether to dig up old memories based on one underlying value that defines us as people, as human beings and as shallow adults with deep seeded high school fears and mentalities.
At 61, I have my hair but my weight is nowhere near what was listed on my draft card in 1971. But I have grown into my ears and the deep bass voice I had as a 17-year-old started me on a career in radio news – so no complaints there.
Hope, to me, was someone I would have dated in high school, without a pause, but I’m sure she’d have nothing to do with me, with hair halfway down my back and a black light display with Led Zeppelin posters lining my room.
Her ideal guy was not exactly a “bad boy,” unless you consider overspending his mom’s credit limit at Bloomingdale’s brands him a criminal.
I liked girls in peasant blouses with names like Fern, Faun, Flora, Moonbeam and Sandi. She dated guys named, Alan, Jeffery, Steve and even an Ira.
In High School, I marveled at Neil Armstrong. She marveled at Neil Diamond. She graduated early at the top of her class. I barely graduated but had the distinction of being voted Class Clown AND Class Chatterbox. I was against the war; she liked the song “War.”
She wore pants with fringes. I lived on the fringes.
She went to her prom. I boycotted mine. I liked the SDS. She liked A&S. I thought Washington was square. She hung out in Washington Square.
We were only 19 months apart, but in looking back, there was a generation between us. They say opposites attract, likes repel, but I missed that one on my Chemistry finals.
I told Hope that I wanted her to come to my reunion. Funny, what motivates us. I wanted to show her off, showing everyone how well I did. “Where did Barry get that hot blonde? Is it his wife, cousin or is she rented?”
I say men dress for themselves. Hope says women dress for other women. She says “It’s more important to look good than to feel good.”
Yet my actions counter my words. My Levi’s morphed into linen, Sangria into Stoli, my Junkmobile into a Jaguar and my Marlboros into Macanudos. I kicked it up a few notches but she has been consistent.
She still thinks Disco is the only music of any value and that a Prada was always better than a poncho. Sure, there are little nuances that she is not the same girl from high school as a Kamikaze has become a Martini but she’s still a convertible kind of girl at heart, even though she now drives a Hummer. Go figure.
I called my friend Steve in Chicago today and asked if he had any thoughts about our journey back home. I said, “Did we go because it was a great opportunity to reconnect, talk about our passion for politics and delve into the matters of the mind and spirit, not the trappings of success?”
He said, “No way! I still had my hair, I weighed the same as I did in high school, I look hotter now, than I did then and I had some unfinished business with that girl from Biology.”
I lamented how our values changed but I acquiesced for the reunion; booked the Benz from Hertz, placed the order of the Armani sport jacket and went ahead with the back waxing. As he hung up, he said “peace.” I knew what he meant.
The “piece” of the past and the “piece” of our hearts we left behind in 1971 still define who we are today and who we endeavor to be.
This is a guest post by Barry Kluger.
How have you changed since your high school graduation? How have you stayed the same? What surprised you most about going to your reunion? Please join the discussion and “like” and share this article to keep the conversation going.