Riffed by Dr. Geek
from an idea by Vitriol


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20th high school reunion

Ummm... hi. I'm finally sufficiently recovered from my travels back to the Land of My Birth to provide an update regarding my adventures at my 20th high school reunion. Of course, the Diaryland Gods also made this trip roughly co-incident with the fulfillment of my Gold Membership purchase... so my poor old diary has been sitting here without any love for several days.

So what to say about the 20th reunion? It was spread out over two days. The first night was a cash bar mixer at a downtown bar that was free for anyone to attend, and attended it was. I saw several people there I haven't seen for at least 10 years. Unfortunately, Mrs. Geek and I decided to attend a pre-reunion mixer at a friend's house where I decided to have a couple neat Talisker single malt scotches too many, rendering me rather green in the gills early in the evening. The whole alcohol situation had my stomach churning and turning for the first hour or two at the bar, and I was not the best of company. Careful consumption of a lot of water prevented disaster. Mrs. Geek and I spent much of the evening in the company of an old friend E. and her husband R. I hadn't really seen E. since the 10 year reunion a decade ago, though she was evidently given all the latest news about me by a mutual friend she sees often.

The second night was a pay-only event in a banquet room. About 50-60 high school grads with their spouses and significant others showed up for this event, but the evening was unique in my mind for the abundance of "popular girls" (one particular clique who all belonged to a high school sorority together) in attendance. Alcoholic moderation was key for the second night -- friends of mine who also drank a lot of that scotch continued in that mode, and had a lost hour or two in the previous night. One friend said he awoke that morning, on the sofa, contact lenses in, wallet on the floor, one shoe on the front porch in his second floor apartment. He had no memory of how he got there. He suspects some crawling up stairs might have been involved.

Whoever chose that particular venue for the dinner did a good job. The dinner was a well-prepared New York steak instead of the usual rubber chicken (with a vegetarian option, of course). The wine and beer were Franzia box wine, and Bud Lite... but I wasn't in much mood to consume anyway.

The evening was also singular due to an encounter with C., one of my best friends in high school and the class Valedictorian. He waxed nostalgic at least once about the time we spent together in 10th grade European History in Mr. F.'s Class. He summed it up rather succinctly: Mr. F.'s tests often included material never covered in his lectures, and for this reason everyone cheated -- except me. I was the notorious example at the front of the class of someone who never cheated. He then described some of the ways he and some of my other classmates cheated.

I'm not sure how to feel about this, after all this time. I knew other people in the class cheated, but not specifically C. Oh I knew he had a variety of reasons why he absolutely positively had to have a 100 every quarter in every class... and I knew there was some grumbling about whether he had earned his Valedictory status 20 years ago. I guess I don't know how to react to this frank admission, so many years on. Goodness knows, I've had a brush or two with cheating in my long academic career (thankfully learning a hard lesson or two very early on), so I know about the pressure to succeed. Yet, I never thought it was something to speak about with some sense of nostalgia.

The whole discussion forced me to go to my parents' attic and dig out some old report cards. I got four 97s that year, and a 100 on the final (European History was absolutely one of my favorite subjects in high school). I recall that C., my friend G., and I were the first three students that Mr. F. ever gave perfect scores on that class final. Does that even mean anything now?

The only other thing that stands out from that evening is that "I was the smartest person in my high school class". I have my sincere doubts about this (given that there were several Ph.D.s, a Fullbright Scholar, a shown artist, a TV ad producer responsible for national ad campaigns, a musician who regularly appeared in the house band of a national TV talk show, and God knows who else), but Mrs. Geek was evidently told that she'd married the smartest person in the class by several people. I can only say this: I played the part. I was the pedant who didn't cheat, always worked very hard, and treated high school like a serious job. For this, I was slightly ostracized by being placed on a pedestal. I was a geek, with a few too many rough social edges to ever be invited much of anywhere.

There are times when I think I could have had more and better friends if I had just known back in high school what I know now. After spending some time with my fellow alumni from the class of '87, I'm not so sure. I still had some of the same trouble working that reunion room in the same way that I had trouble relating to the people in my classes two decades ago.

So it was, in all, a good trip, but not without its bittersweetness. I guess that is what reunions are supposed to be about.

said drgeek on 2007-08-06 at 10:35 p.m.


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