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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

High School Musical

Have you ever been to your own high school reunion? Even though my post high school existence has been blissful and blessed, I freely admit that memories of high school reignite those ugly, old inferiority complex issues. The traumatic psychosis of grinding my way through the tribulations and mortifications of adolescentville remain submerged as embarassing pock marks in the subconscious firmament of my brain.

Thankfully, high school was not a total washout. There were scads of wild and crazy and hilarious moments during those formative years. I was fortunate to hang with a raucous bunch of gregarious, creative, smart and always amusing teenage sidekicks. And what I remember best is that they always laughed at my jokes.

Recently, I reconnected online with an old high school chum whom I have not seen in 40 years. She emailed me a photo taken in 2008 of the last high school reunion. (I was not present because I lived too far away. That and I didn't get an invitation---I'm assuming because they didn't know how to contact me.) 

There on my computer monitor, staring at me in bold, cheerful color appeared a reunited assemby of my former classmates. My first thought was: Who are all these old, gray haired people? It looked like a recruitment poster for AARP. Oh my gosh! I quickly realized, I could be looking at myself. They are me. I am them. Intellectually, I understand that we've all aged over the years but in my selective memory I still pictured everyone looking as they did when we were 17 years old.

Our high school senior class consisted of 200 students. I know this because I just unpacked my old high school yearbook and I counted every one of those grainy black and white photos. Lordy, get a load of those goofy poofy hairstyles on the girls. All the guys sported neckties and suit jackets. Little did we know how much our world was about to change with Vietnam and the ensuing radical Sixties. I think we may have been the last of the innocents back then.

In the recent reunion photo, there were 39 smiling faces seated on bleachers in our old high school gymnasium. I carefully scrutinized each face. I did not recognize a soul. Fortunately an identification list accompanied the picture. As I matched each face with their respective photo, their personalities emerged like youthful ghosts from a long forgotten past. The well dressed boomers staring at me off the page, suddenly morphed into those fresh, bright, enthusiastic, conquer-the-world faces of classmates I had known so many years ago.

As memories flood over me, I wonder about their lives....their loves, their losses, their good fortune, their struggles, their careers, their health, their families. I hope they are happy. I also think about the others who are not in the photo. I'm sure many are deceased. Sadly, a couple of my favorite, wacky old pals are rumored to be no longer with us. What happened to the rest of the class? Nobody became super famous. But I've heard many have led very accomplished lives. I'm hoping each of them is a winner in their own right. Whatever happened to my very best friend? I heard she's a successful businesswoman and lives in Chicago. I'd love to hear from her. But I wonder if she'd feel the same. (I'm still haunted by those nagging teenage insecurities.)

In the photo, I noticed 3 fellows who escorted me to a school dance at one time or another. Back then, pity the girl who didn't have a date for the prom. I don't think it's like that today. The photo revealed that several in the group had lost copious amounts of weight. Many had let their hair gray naturally. Some of the women sported chic blonde coifs. There were a couple knockout redheads while others preserved their lustrous dark locks. A few guys were gently balding but no shaved heads. The men were nattily attired in suits and the ladies glowed with glam. Overall this crew looked marvelous. And upon further evaluation, I have to admit that they don't look that old afterall.

Back in the day, high school was nothing like today's over-the-top, Disney produced cultural phenomenon, High School Musical. Yet we had an exuberant bounce in our step. We shared cool times and high drama. We sang, we danced, we sobbed, we laughed. We harbored gargantuan vulnerabilities and Midwest values. We respected authority. We polished our shoes. We wore plaid. We were polite. Boys kept their hair short. We didn't do drugs...yet. We gulped root beer at the A&W. Girls donned pearls for our senior pictures for god sake. We had hopes and dreams and passion. We created our very own memories. Fondest regards and a sentimental salute to the "Home of the Pie" gang. Sphere: Related Content


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