I am not sure why I make an effort every year to attend a semi-formal high school reunion. Or the periodic retired police reunion. Maybe it is the early onset of dementia or simply some sort of curiosity about what my former classmates and colleagues have been doing the past few years or even decades.
Or possibly it’s how they have changed appearance, while obviously I have not. Curiosity reigns.
Let me be transparent. I am not talking about a high school class reunion of hundreds of former students. My graduating class consisted of 28 teenagers. Only 25 are left – three have since passed away.
I had the good fortune to be able to attend a private boarding school in western Maryland, which was preceded by an educational experience at a Washington, D.C. private school through the seventh grade.
I can’t say enough about the education offered. I didn’t say, however, that I responded well to that offer, just that it was there for the taking.
Being a precocious kid, I managed to flunk sand box and recess. Boarding school, with its discipline and tough educational standards seemed to fit my mother’s idea of a proper upbringing. At the time, I disagreed with that approach.
However, being away from home was not an easy adjustment for a 12-year-old.
One classmate lives in Crozet. Do I ever see him throughout the year? Nope. Does he ever call? Nope. Do we talk on the phone at all throughout the year? Yep, but only if I call.
A guy in my class – his name is actually Guy – has probably set a reunion record. I think he has been to more than 30 and he drives from Austin, Texas. He doesn’t drive a gas sipping car like my friend in Crozet. Guy drives a massive diesel pick-up truck.
I suppose since he lives in Texas with all the oil wells and refineries, he fills up before leaving.
In April, as in about the past 12 years, the Yard Sale Queen and I headed to Maryland. She enjoys chatting with the women who accompany my classmates. Some do bring wives, some girlfriends but never both. Just kidding.
The real reason the Yard Sale Queen likes going is for, you guessed it, yard sales and shopping at the Outlet Mall. Her eyes light up at the thought of different surroundings, prices and stuff. She can wheel and deal with Marylanders just as well as Virginians.
We missed a neat community yard sale we visited two years in a row. Or, they simply stopped having hem.
What we didn’t miss was the time with my old classmates. This year, about 11of us stayed at the same hotel and had dinner Friday night and breakfast Saturday.
Some of them are easily recognizable. Some not so much. Guy looks just like he did as a kid, except older. Mike hasn’t changed a bit. One classmate, a judge in Maryland, looks older but easily recognizable.
Some of my classmates had very successful careers; some of us - read that’s me - are just hanging on.
As the weekend progressed, we spent countless hours catching up. Guy remembers the minutest details. I shook my head in disbelief as he recounted stories that even included me.
“Did that really happen?” I am thinking to myself, not remembering any of it.
This year was our 53th reunion, which in the grand scheme of things is about as meaningful as the 32nd.
The school hosts an alumni dinner on Saturday night. It is usually overpriced – yes, we are required to pay – and the food is usually bland and boring. Does the term rubber chicken mean anything to you?
This year, The Yard Sale Queen and I attended the dinner. The food was markedly improved. But the real reason we attended was to honor the classmate from Crozet, who was receiving an award. I had the privilege of addressing 135 people to explain why my friend and classmate deserved the award. The audience laughed.
The school’s headmaster wasn’t amused with my speech. Oh well.