When it comes to the reunion season, traditionally summer and early fall, I suppose I’ve had an acceptance-indifference relationship.
While once upon a time, although not in love with them, I think I saw them as part of the cycle of life. Last week, I shared some thoughts of my four reunion-attending times. However, once I missed my class’25th, I sort of checked out. Perhaps, I just grew a bit indifferent about them, surprising even to me, because, in so many other ways, I am awash in nostalgia.
Now, I will tell you that whenever I see classmates as I often do around town, I really enjoy talking to them about our shared experiences, so it’s not that I’m antisocial. Those who know me know that’s far from the case.
Unlike some, I really don’t have any negative past experiences that resonate from my days of school yore that keep me away, unlike one to whom I recently spoke while working a Knights of Columbus bar shift.
She casually mentioned that this was a reunion year, her 45th, but that she wouldn’t be attending.
I’m always interested in the whys of those who feel the same about such affairs as I’ve grown to feel, so I asked.
She explained to me that she recalled a bad experience with the main organizer of the event, a gal — not surprising, since I’ve observed over time that women seem to be far better at nurturing past friendships than men are. She said of the former classmate with whom she apparently didn’t want to share a room, that her perceived antagonist spoke just 12 words to her in four years of high school.
Of course, whenever someone after four and a half decades remembers precisely a dozen words, that tends to pique my interest, and I had to ask what they were. She explained to me during class exchange in the hall the girl said, “Get out of my way, b——.”
When I told her that was only six words, she said the girl said it twice!
So I suppose, other than geographical distance, the reason some don’t attend such affairs is they still harbor some resentments.
No doubt, of a more serious nature than that brief encounter, there are some, I’m sure, who have no desire to reconvene with classmates if they were bullied or ridiculed, such as another to whom I recently spoke, someone once mocked for being heavy.
Certainly, that, I can understand. Not only having student experiences but also teacher experiences, I can attest to the fact that, while teens are capable of great kindness at times, they can also exhibit a much darker side when it comes to how they treat each other. To those who remember bad treatment, those ignored or those who felt disrespected, I suppose such unpleasant times never fully dissipate.
For others, I think they may just grow a bit weary of the every-half-decade gatherings. At the end of an August meeting at the K. of C. of the organizers of the early September reunion for my sister Joan’s class, the LCC Class of 1966, Margaret, she of the terrific dry sense of humor, came up to the bar, chuckled and said that someone in the meeting was talking about saving the list of former classmates’ contact information for the NEXT reunion. She rolled her eyes and said to me, “Are you kidding me? Isn’t 50 enough? Do we really need to do this again?”
However, there also will always be those who won’t miss any opportunities to gather every five years, the same ones, no doubt, who in between will gather at a former classmate’s suggestion for a lunch or a drink.
One, Barbara Fisher, who certainly has that dominant reunion gene, emailed me in July, asking if I had any interest in writing about the August 19-20 Howard Johnson gathering of her class, the young men and women who comprised the 1956 Lima Senior Spartans, noteworthy because theirs was the very first graduating class that called themselves Spartans rather than (South) Tigers or (Central) Dragons. Certainly, I thought that deserves a reunion shout out, so to you, Barbara, and the rest of your mates, a tip of the hat in your direction!
For those who embrace reunions and attended some gathering of T-Birds, Spartans, Wildcats, Commodores or Mustangs or whatever else you once called yourself, in this, yet another summer of gatherings, and, yes, also for those of you less inclined to attend for whatever the reason, something I fully understand, I hope your years have been more friend than foe since you last left your geometry homework on the kitchen table.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected]