Friday, July 23, 2010

There's Gonna Be A Reunion

"There's gonna be a reunion
Down by the telephone tree
And all your lips will be movin'
You're talking shit about me..."

- Telephone Tree by The Young Fresh Fellows

The countdown is on: one week from this Saturday will be my 25th High School Reunion.  Class of 1985 - can you believe that was a quarter of a century ago?  How did we get so old?

No Worries

Those of you who follow this blog assiduously will recall that in this post about my social anxieties I wrestled with attending this reunion, among other things.  I made the decision about a week ago to go.  Our reunion is being held at the Lancaster Convention Center, about a 30-minute walk from my front door, so I determined that if I show up and really have a lousy time, I can easily ditch and head for home. Or a bar. More likely a bar.

But I don't think I'm going to have a lousy time.  In fact, I'm looking forward to it! I'm excited to see faces I haven't seen in years and catch up in person with those who have been only unseen entities on the other end of a Facebook connection for the past year or two.  Sure, there are those who I really would rather not encounter - I think everyone has their short list like that, and I don't doubt that I'm on a few of those lists - but I'm not going to spend my time focusing on those folks, and I'm certainly not going to give them the power to stop me from showing up.  I'll smile and say hello if I must, and then spend my time with the people who matter.

Most surprising to me is the anxiety process which I described in that previous post has not begun.  Again, I made this decision a week ago.  Usually, a week is plenty of incubation time for a full-fledged panic to set in, and for me to begin scrambling to set up my "outs," my excuses for not going.  Since I have the safety-hatch built in this time, knowing I can easily leave at any time, I have managed to keep that panic at bay.

Oh, little bits of it have tried to grab a foothold: at least two nightmares so far where I'm at the reunion and things go horribly awry; where the bullies I suffered back then have not changed and I am defenseless and unable to retaliate.   But the full-on anxiety has not appeared.  More importantly, I don't find myself waiting for it.  Sure, I wonder if it will show up between now and then.  Another week is, as I said, plenty of incubation time.


To me, it's far more interesting to learn about what my classmates are doing with their lives now then to sit around awash in nostalgia.  But I suppose reliving the old days is a necessary part of the reunion process, and I do have fond memories of my high school years. What a different time it was back then.

Those were pre-Columbine days, and during my senior year it was unsafe to walk the halls of the school unarmed.  Our weapons of choice were called Tracer Guns.  These plastic pistols fired little plastic discs that sailed like mini frisbees and stung like the dickens when they hit you - especially from close range.  When the locker banks would clear out in the mornings as everyone headed to first period, the ground would be littered with yellow plastic circles.  The cafeteria was a likely place for an ambush, as were the restrooms.  And, I have cloudy memories of shootouts in the school's planetarium.  We had a blast, and it was all innocent fun.  To think what would happen to a kid bringing a plastic Tracer Gun into a school nowadays!

Do schools still do fire drills? As often as we did back then?  It seemed like we had fire drills on a weekly basis, where we all dutifully file out to the busport behind the school building or the grounds in front and loiter purposelessly until we were allowed back in.  I know those drills happened often enough that we no longer took them very seriously and were somewhat less than prompt in our practice evacuations.  Once, after taking a particularly long time to empty the building and just as long to meander back to class, our principal got on the intercom to scold us, and in the process made the oft-quoted remark, "This is a fire drill, not a lemonade party!"  Now, I've never been to a lemonade party, nor do I know anyone who has, but our principal was mad, and often had difficulty finding the right words when he was so agitated. This was classically demonstrated when someone pranked the school by pulling a fire alarm, sending us all through the process once again.  Across the loudspeaker came our principal's barely concealed fury in the form of the unanswerable question,  "Doesn't anyone remember the story of the three little pigs who cried wolf?"

Green Eggs and HamMy own bizarre sense of humor found outlet, if not always receptive audience,  in my high school days.  One year I entered the school's Talent Show.  My talent? I read Green Eggs and Ham aloud.  (Years before Rev. Jesse Jackson did it on SNL, mind you!) I found it hilarious to consider that you had to actually audition for the Talent Show, and me reading a children's book made the cut amongst the typical piano recitals, dance routines, etc.  Another time I managed to get a page worth of nonsense and gibberish published in our annual student literary magazine.  My most Andy-Kauffman-esque moment, however, was the night I DJ'd one of our school dances, playing an evening's worth of music hardly anyone knew or recognized on a cheap, rinky-dink stereo that could hardly be heard across an empty gym, much less one filled with my fellow students.  Very few people got that one - more than a few were kind of ticked, actually.  I still smile to remember the looks on some people's faces...

Older, Fatter, Better

Now, 25 years later, I'm going back.  Back to reminisce with old friends.  Back to see those who I did not know well then, but who have become good friends on Facebook and Twitter.  I can't say I don't have any preconceptions going in; I think we all do.  But I know I'm not the only one who has gotten older and fatter and balder in the ensuing quarter century (sorry, my friends, but your Facebook pics give you away!), and I'm not going with the hope or intention of impressing anybody.  I've got my faults and my idiosyncracies, but I'm living a pretty good life, thank you, and I'm in a happier place than I have been in years.  I have no doubt there will be stories from the reunion to share here, and rest assured I will!
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