2009-01-02 / On Second Thought

Thirty-something speaks

Can't count on a reunion to revitalize
Mike Maddock

Last Saturday I went to my 20th high school reunion. Technically, it should have been my 21st high school reunion, because I graduated in '88, but I certainly didn't put forth any effort to plan the thing…so who am I to criticize?

Whether it was the 20th or 21st, it really doesn't matter. The fact is I'm getting old. Of course, my mom says, "Wait until your 45th reunion, then you'll feel old," but this is my midlife crisis…not hers.

The fact is I was hoping to walk into a room full of wrinkled, grey- haired, fat, balding, old people who wanted to talk about nothing but prostate exams and Preparation H. I wanted bushy eyebrows and ear hair to be free flowing.

The late, great Rodney Dangerfield said it best when he concluded, "If you want to feel thin, hang out with fat people." That's the logic I was relying on because I wanted to hang out with old people to make myself feel young.

Unfortunately, I didn't find any old people at my reunion. In fact, most everyone looked fantastic! Either there was something in the water (or the brownies) that really helped my class, or I graduated with a bunch of Benjamin Buttons. I was looking for the AARP and found the fountain of youth. But that wasn't the worst part.

Nothing can be quite as humbling as hanging out with old high school classmates. For starters, I found myself taking a bathroom break at the same time as another one of my fellow classmates. As we were washing our hands, he looked at me and I looked at him. Both of us got the exact same look on our faces, and I could tell both of us were thinking the exact same thing…I've never seen this guy in my life!

The next sign that my high school years, while extremely significant to me, left little impact on many of my fellow classmates was when one of the more popular girls from the class of '88 walked up to me and said, "You know the one thing I remember about you is when you and your brother went deep sea fishing that summer after our junior year and a barracuda jumped in your boat and bit you on the big toe!"

Now that would have been a wonderful story and a great memory to have about me if I wasn't an only child and my fishing experience consisted of a few trips off a Pawley's Island inlet with my dad.

When I explained this to her, she got an extremely puzzled look on her face then asked, "Are you sure you don't have a brother?"

"Yes," I said. "I did catch a pelican once by accident, but I have no siblings and the closest I've gotten to receiving pain from a barracuda was when some guy in college kept playing 'The Best of Heart'over and over again."

"Oh," she said still doubting my sincerity. Then she walked away and so did yet another piece of my ego.

Despite the apparent youth of my class and my minimal impact on it, I did manage to have a great time. Youth was served over and over and over again, but the next morning was yet another huge reminder that I am not 18 anymore. I loved seeing my friends again, but I'm glad these things only come around every ten years or so. Maybe next time there will at least be some grey hair.

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