My 20-year high school reunion was last weekend, and I have to admit, it’s sort of freaking me out.
Other milestones — birthdays, the arrival of children, job changes — haven’t bothered me at all. Sure, it hurts a little when my daughter says things like “Dad, your hair looks darker — except on the sides where it’s gray,” but I just figure it makes me look more mature (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).
And when the actual anniversary of my graduation came and went last June, I didn’t give it a second thought.
But then over the summer, emails started circulating with plans for the reunion. Someone set up a Facebook group, and I started to get a glimpse into the lives of classmates, most of whom I have not seen since graduation. I never realized some of them were in my class, but I guess that explains why they were always hanging around at the school. Many of them have settled down, gotten married and had kids, which struck me as amusing, because I knew these people in high school, and would not have considered them fit for parenthood.
Then again, they all knew me in high school, and here I am, with a wife, two kids and a mortgage. More mature indeed.
And that got me to thinking about what I was like when I graduated from high school, which, for me, was just a little more than half a lifetime ago.
Senior year was the year I got rid of my mullet — spiked on top, long in the back — and went with what could be described as a short bowl cut on top, with the hair on the sides and back of my head shaved. Cool.
My favorite outfit was a blue and day-glo orange striped shirt, which I wore with two-tone, blue and gray acid-washed jeans. Even cooler.
My favorite music was Led Zeppelin and AC/DC (some things never change), but I recall a lot of Vanilla Ice and Bel Biv Devoe at the few parties I attended. My twin sister was into the alternative scene and listed to The Cure and Depeche Mode. We listened to them on casettes with a Sony Walkman — revolutionary technology. Wicked cool.
One of our favorite activities was “forking” people’s lawns, which involved obtaining an industrial-sized box of plastic forks and sticking them in someone’s front yard. I have no idea why we did this, but it also was, apparently, also wicked cool.
Anyway, the trip down memory lane was fun, but again, it didn’t really bother me.
Along came the big night. I didn’t make it the 5,000 miles back for the reunion, but my sister gave me the rundown the next day. The girls, she said, for most part looked pretty good. The guys, she said, looked a little “bloated.”
No big deal, I thought, for a few years there, I was a little bloated myself.
Then someone posted photos on the Facebook page. As I clicked few the first few, I thought, nice, some of my classmates brought their parents with them.
Then I realized, those are not my classmates’ parents. Those are my classmates.
And that’s about the time it started bothering me. I mean, how could I have gone to high school with these people? They all look like they’re about to turn 40, with families and jobs and responsibilities and all the stress that goes with it. I wonder how many of them showed up in a minivan?
Oh, wait. That’s me, too. Until recently, I even had the minivan. Yikes.
I guess, when you don’t see people for 20 years, you also don’t see them aging gracefully. The hairlines recede and waistlines appear to expand all at once, instead of slowly over time.
So maybe I shouldn’t be freaking out about this. Besides, it’s just a few more years until our 25th reunion, when we’ll all be in our 40s, so I’ve got that to look forward to. Now that I know everyone else has matured since high school, that shouldn’t bother me too much, right?
Reach Clarion Editor Will Morrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.