August 15, 2011

High School Daze

As the summer is about to burn its self out, our thoughts turn to another school year that’s about to begin. And talking about school, I was fortunate enough to go to my 35th graduation reunion this year. Before my wife and I loaded up to leave, sentiment made me look back at some old photographs and the issue of the local paper that all of us graduates appeared in.

There I was, in that hideous blue and white plaid jacket with the blue print tie and green dress shirt. My how styles have changed over the years…thank the Lord. I looked at all of my friends in the paper and tried to remember a special moment that each of us shared during our four years together in high school.

Well, you never know just how old you’ve become, until you go to a high school reunion. Well, let me correct that. You never know how old you’ve become until you go to your 35th high school reunion.

In the beginning we had a 10 year reunion and for the most part everyone had held up fairly well. You always have the exception to the rule when the “Don Juan” of the class showed up with what looked like a landing strip between his ears that had replaced that thick, full head of hair that he was so proud of during the school days. And of course, the “beauty queen” had lost her girly figure after one or six kids and was hardly recognizable until she told you her name. Ok, we all get old and change for sure and I most certainly have changed.

 I missed all of the “in between” reunions prior to the 35th which was held this past summer in my home town and what a surprise I had when I arrived. I walked in and my first thought was “who the hell are all of these old people and why are they at my high school reunion?” Well, it didn’t take long to figure out, dude, you’re just as old as these guys and gals and you need to get a grip on reality.

Actually, 35 years later and I was absolutely floored at how many of my classmates still looked exactly the same, only with a bit more “character” lines. I guess I stayed relatively close to the old skinny, pimple headed geek they knew back then, because they all called me by name and were happy that I showed up.

And you know it’s inevitable at any get together like a high school reunion, someone is going to pull out the old pictures. Well, our reunion planners went one step further… they posted them on the walls for EVERYONE to see. But after looking at everyone’s picture, I was shaking my head positively at how much everyone looked the same…then I got to my picture.

Folks, you have to kind of make a comparison in your mind if you can do that. Picture this…at 53 years old, I am 5’9” tall and weigh right at 190 pounds and have definitely been going through the aging process a while now. On top, where there used to be more hair than the floor of a barber shop, there is now a paltry, patchy, stiff, spikey sort of thing going on in a dark brown, black and gray/white colored mixture. BUT, I don’t have to shave the rest of my head to match the center and that’s a good thing. I now tend to wear jeans and boots and relatively “western” attire, since I did grow up in Texas. And in between the belt and the chest there seems to have developed some sort of a fleshy mound, that’s round and soft and since I don’t get a lot of sun there, it’s a bit of a pasty white. Middle aged spread maybe?

So now, take that image and compare it to this one. At 18, when I graduated, I was 6’ 2” because of the brown platform shoes. Justin Beiber had nothing on me, my hair was smoothed down in that style long before he was ever a gleam in his daddy’s eye. I weighed 128 pounds and if I turned sideways and stuck out my tongue, it’s scary how much I resembled a zipper. I would be wearing a highly-flammable disco type shirt that had dangerously sharp collars and it would be strategically unbuttoned halfway to my navel. Ok, are you getting the picture here? Lastly, I’ve got on these blue jeans and had they been any tighter, they would have been mistaken for leg skin. Oh, but they did make a good ballooning “bell” just below the knee and completely covered up those platform shoes.

So, that’s quite the contrast between the two era’s and except for those few lucky souls that are almost a cookie cutter of their former selves from 35 years ago, we had all changed. But, we had all changed for the better and I’m not talking looks wise either.

Back in school, we all ran in “packs”. Jocks, Brainiacs, Cowboys, Hippies, whatever, we were all labeled and were defined by the company we kept. And I have to say that at the 35th anniversary that I attended this past year, we fortunately have gotten past labeling one another. There were instances where I spoke more to folks in that one night than I did in the entire time I attended high school. And to me, that’s a good thing.

So as your youngsters or grand youngsters get ready to head out to school this year, grab the camera, take a few pics of them and put them away…for 35 years. Because if you’re fortunate enough to be around for that long, you get to make the comparisons of them when they were little guys and gals and you can rub their nose into the same “stuff” they’ve rubbed yours in for being out of school for so long.

Happy School daze to all of you out there!
The Impulsive Texan

"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...