Chronicles From The Deep South, Volume 2: Reunion Edition
Last time, it all started with a phone call in 1993 when, as class president, I got a committee together to plan the 10-year reunion for my high school class. It went off without a hitch.
This time, it all started with an e-mail I received in 2003 when the committee I put together last time already had the 20-year reunion planned and were letting me, the class president, know about it. Again, it went off without a hitch.
As I was driving to the main party last night (there was a picnic earlier in the day which I’d missed) I was surprisingly excited to be going. Originally, the thought of driving 660 miles to attend didn’t seem all that worthwhile. Driving 20 minutes across town seemed well worth it.
When I got there, two girls (well, to me they seemed like girls, but they’re in their late 30’s now) on the committee were filling out nametags. They didn’t recognize me, and I’ve known one of them since 2nd grade. I guess the ponytail threw them off. I added the long hair after the 10th so get a free pass. At least I hope it was that and not the 20 pounds I’ve gained since then. They laughed embarrassingly and were happy to see me.
My group of friends showed up about a half-hour into the deal. One of them is in pharmaceutical sales and actually lives in the house next door to my grandmother’s old house. The best man at my wedding showed up with his wife, and he works for Frito-Lay in Charlotte. The other it twice divorced and living in a van down by the river. That’s really sort of the way it sounded when he was telling us he was a freight broker.
Anyway, there was little talk of the past. At the 10-year deal, we re-lived the big games and stupid moments. This year, there seemed to be a genuine interest in what each other was doing and our families. Pictures came out of wallets. A lot.
Maybe it’s a generational thing or maybe it’s that we’ve moved past superficiality, but no one was really trying to impress anyone else. We had a couple of Ph.D’s and M.D.’s and a couple of pro athletes, but everyone made statements like, “Well, I’m a professor at Georgia Tech, but really all that does is pay the bills so I can spend time with family/do my hobby.” We seemed really interested in those things more than the careers.
We definitely moved past the stereotypes that we were, too. The cliques were difficult to discern. Everybody more or less worked the room. There was enough time to talk to everybody. A lot of conversation evolved around those who weren’t there…not in a bad way, but more like, “Tyler didn’t come to the 10-year, either. What’s he up to?”
As for my personal conversations, it’s interesting to see how people respond when you say you’re a pastor at a church in Dallas. They looked as if I’d said I became an astronaut. Then they’d ask me if I’d read “Purpose Driven Life” or the “Left Behind” series of books. At the 10-year, everyone had infants and toddlers. Now they were all talking about the great church they started going to and how much they liked their pastor, etc. Apparently when boys start calling your daughter (some even had teens that were driving/dating/etc.) church becomes a priority.
It’s also interesting when you have children in middle school how you look at stuff through different eyes. One of the more popular girls in high school married a man who had children from a previous marriage (making her the only one with children in high school–one actually graduated this year) telling us of stories like the first time they took the car out after they got their license or staying out all night during prom or getting ready for them to move off to college in a few weeks. We were riveted. That conversation lasted about an hour and led to a discussion about how we thought we were so old at that time in our lives and now it seems so young…throwing in all those stories about how we used to drive like maniacs and now we’re getting ready to hand our kids the keys, how we used to go after the pretty girls and now we’re telling our sons not to be so shallow, how we used to stay out all night after prom. We all decided it might be wise to thank our parents at some point.
The 80’s music that filled the hall lost it’s retro effect, largely due to the VH-1 series about that decade. The songs still made us laugh, though…especially as the DJ announced that his final 10 songs were counting down Billboard’s top 10 from 1984. I didn’t hear what #1 was because I was saying goodbye to some of my friends.
People who couldn’t dance in high school didn’t get any better over 20 years.
Only two guys were obnoxiously drunk, and both were using the opportunity to try to pick up the bachelorettes and new divorcees. Needless to say, drunkeness may be funny to 18 year olds, but it’s pretty sad to get tanked and chase skirts at 38.
The highlight of the night was when my group of friends started reviewing those girls we dated or had crushes on during the high school years. They’d walk by and one of them would fire off, “Hey, McKinney. There’s Kim. Remember in 9th grade homeroom you said you were going to ask her out? Did you ever?” Or, “Hey, Smitty. Remember when you went out with Melissa and the cops found you parking?” We thought it might be wise to apologize to these various girls at some point for our teenage guy stupidity. My old high school girlfriend was a no-show…but my friends talked about my stupid exploits with her anyway.
So, overall, I’m really glad I went. It was a surprisingly good time. And, I got voted to win an award for “Classmate Who Has Changed The Most.” I took it as a compliment.