Chuck Brooks' column: High school reunions mark the passage of time
If you’re reading this before Saturday night, August 9, chances are I’ll be gearing up to face yet another class reunion. This one will mark 40 years passage of time. FORTY YEARS!
I remember Mom and Dad going to one of their later reunions, but I KNOW it wasn’t as late as their 40th. I can remember them leaving the house that night and me thinking God, they’re old!
Eventually, much of what we did and thought as kids comes back to bite us years later in places we don’t want to be bitten.
My five-year reunion was simple. Not much in the way of pomp and circumstance. We were already legal drinking age for a few years. Many of my peers, however, were still behaving like it was a newfound freedom at that reunion. The evening was held at one of the two local golf supper clubs just outside my hometown. There was a lot of liquid running freely that night. Some of us were either fresh out of college and beginning careers or were about to end college and embark on the next adventure.
It was a Saturday night and much of what I’d witnessed in my senior year of high school continued to play itself out that evening. I left early, but supposedly a few rummies got really stupid and released a bunch of golf carts down the hill on which the building was built, and there was a lot of damage resulting in a lot of money. End result? The class of 1974 was banned from ever returning to a reunion again in that establishment. Essentially, high school was alive and well.
The 10-year reunion was the only reunion I wasn’t able to make. I can’t tell you much about it, consequently. However, I remember being told then by folks older than me that generally, the five-year reunion is not all that much fun because it’s too soon after high school. The 10-year reunion, they said, would be the one to attend. I don’t remember what kept me from it, but it wasn’t because I didn’t want to go. I loved high school, and I had many friends I would have loved to see. It just wasn’t meant to be that year for me.
Then came the 15- and 20-year reunions and our lives were drastically changing. Including mine, certainly. However, maybe not as drastically as some of my peers. I think by the 15-year reunion, we had lost two classmates to tragic and early deaths. Actually, as I write this, I think those two were already gone at our fifth reunion. I remember one of them specifically. He was a good friend and he was in the military. He had been flying in a glider when a downdraft caught his plane and essentially took control, flying it directly into the side of a mountain. We were already beginning to learn that life isn’t always fair.
Then came the 25th. Here’s where I need to explain something to you. My friends, for the most part, were long gone from my life. I would see them when I would go home, if they happened to be home too, but for the most part, they knew little to nothing about my life here nor I about their lives. In any case, I was contacted by one of my good friends who was one of the folks in charge of this reunion. She told me the committee was wondering if I’d emcee this reunion because they wanted to make it a special one since it was our 25th. They had no idea what I had been doing for years here with the microphone, so I was somewhat surprised to be asked. I was flattered, so of course, I agreed to do it. It was fun. I was full of ad libs and spontaneous remarks that surprised even me. They must’ve been pleased because they asked me to do it again for the 30th and the 35th.
This year, they’ve decided since we’ve gotten this far, it’s time to scale down the reunion and to make it more social and less of a “program.” Thus, we’ll have hors d’oeuvres and beverages. It will all take place on one evening. I remember the last reunion we were beginning to see declining numbers in attendance. I suppose that makes sense. I hope a lot still show for this.
I loved high school. I’m sure that surprises most of you. I have many fond memories. I’ve always enjoyed my reunions, despite the fact they’re a consistent reminder the years are moving along with or without us. As long as they continue to have them and I can attend, I’ll be there!
I can hear Mom telling Dad now… “And he thought WE were old!”