News of my thirty-fifth high school reunion came only weeks ago, which is not very much time to prepare. As it turned out, my wife had a commitment to a scrapbooking workshop on that day. I wasn’t sure what I should do. In the end I have pulled a Ralph Perk. He was the mayor of Cleveland, who turned down an invitation to the White House during the Nixon administration, because it fell on his bowling night.
The event is tonight and here I am in Athens (the school is in Gates Mills, Ohio). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved.
Everyone knows how these milestones can create and foster exorbitant amounts of fear. We tend to revisit adolescent anxieties in our mind. Unfortunately for me, I am one of those peculiar people who can remember practically every day of their life. I can even recognize a person who I knew when I was six, after they have aged forty five years, instantly. I have vivid memories from when I was six months old, of my father and brother throwing snowballs at our window, as my mother holds me in her arms. My mother once took me to a friend’s apartment before my first birthday. I described the apartment to this friend almost thirty years later, and her jaw dropped to the floor. My description was accurate to the pattern of the oriental carpet.
So what does this have to do with high school? The problem for me is that the embarrassing and awkward moments have won the battle for prominence. The consequence is that high school has morphed into a nightmare. I have to force the good memories forward to balance the equation. Our school was small, but still large enough to have some cliques. I could be found straddled between the freaks and the geeks (if any of you remember the television show by that name). It took a long time to realize that life was so much more interesting as a geek. Hail the GEEKS! So now, to talk myself into actually attending my fortieth—I will have to remind myself, that by the time it arrives, most everybody will have been bitch-slapped enough by life, that any sense of entitlement will have been replaced by gratitude and humility, leveling the playing field.
Of course, at the same time, I know that I am not unique. There are others probably going through the same emotions.