Monday, August 28, 2006

I Could Have Danced, Danced, Danced All Night

I'm back from my 20-year high school reunion, which was held Friday and Saturday. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by both the turnout (we had about half of our classmates show up--out of 57, that wasn't too bad), and the fact that a lot of my friends from junior/senior high still live in that area, so they're easy to find.

A few nice surprises were that friends Palmer and Todd showed up. Palmer was voted "class clown," and really lived up to it. He sat next to me in chorus and made smart-ass comments under his breath that kept me in stitches and trouble constantly. I learned most of what I know from Palmer and Bea Arthur. He couldn't make the 10-year reunion, but I was always hoping to run into him again sometime. He lives in Des Moines now, and his wife attended with him. She was very nice, but after all, didn't know any of us, and as the evening wore on, she got understandably bored, since she didn't have any shared history with any of us.

And we talked about the history. There were things I did back then that I was always embarrassed and ashamed about that I was finally able to talk and laugh about. And everyone else laughed, too. WITH me this time, not AT me. I think I finally realized that they were laughing with me all along, and I was probably too insecure to see it. Most of all, I got the chance to show everybody I was smart and down-to-earth now, and not the chubby blond dingbat I thought I'd been in high school.

The other really pleasant surprise for me was my old bandmate, Todd. We were in a band together in 8th grade, and we used to practice in his garage. Todd was athletic, and had a very "studly" persona, and the girls literally drooled over him. There's nothing more obvious than a starry-eyed 13-year-old at a church lock-in (where we usually played--it was a small town), and we saw plenty of them. I got along pretty well with Todd, but he was way cooler than me, and we both knew it. He was also a bit of a bully sometimes, but in a teasing kind of way.

When I walked in Saturday night (that's the night he and his wife were able to get a sitter), he grabbed my hand, shook it and said, "Man, it is SO GREAT to see you!" We had not seen each other in over 20 years--since graduation on June of 1986. So we had lots of catching up to do. After the dinner was over (I came in at the end, because I'd had dinner at my Dad's house beforehand), they took a few group photos and we headed to the beer tent at the town carnival, which is called Old Settlers. There was a kick-ass band playing (lots of CCR, .38 Special, etc.) and people were having a hell of a great time. I saw the very first girl I ever had a crush on (her brother was in my class, but wasn't at the reunion), but she did not see me (thank God!). We hung out until about 12:30, then it started to break up...most of my classmates left with spouses, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I rumbled my way back to my Mom's house in my battered blue '94 Cavalier (with the hole that's just starting in the muffler). I thought of how much fun it had been. And how I almost hadn't gone.

Well, I got my questions answered. Yes, the people who live in town are happy. But they haven't necessarily lived in town the whole time. Many have moved to other communities. But they all seem very content with what they've done. Maybe it's time I was too. And started from here to do some great new things. There are a lot of people I want to make proud now.

The other think that struck me was how little we had all changed. The girls--every last one of them--looked just like they looked in high school, or better. Todd was voted "most changed." Where he used to be clean-shaven and slightly cocky (although likably so), with a thick head of dark blonde hair and a body of death, he was now a laid-back, friendly, humorous guy with a shaved head, a goatee, a bit of a gut, not a trace of cockiness, and an earring. (At the 10-year, I was one of only two guys that had one!)

Sometimes you SHOULD go home again. It helps you re-charge. And God, how I needed it.

I promise to get back to my bitter self later on. But I don't think I'll need to quite so often anymore (I promise to be bitchy, though. :-)) I'll post pictures when I get them.


Blogger jali said...

I would love to see my HS buddies again. I attended my 20 year go-go, but haven't been back since then.

Now I've gotta bookmak you so I can come back to see the photos.

1:27 PM  
Blogger dirk.mancuso said...

Glad to hear you had a good time. I have never been to a reunion, nor have I been inclined to even consider going. I was a non-entity in high school except when being made fun of, so my take is if they didn't want to get to know me then, I don't care to know them now.

Yeah, I'm a bitch and stuff. Learn to accept it.


2:22 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I already have, Dirk. I already have. :-)

11:05 PM  

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