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The Class Reunion

The Class Reunion

Hello, everyone.

There are several rites of passage that we go through in our sojourn from infancy to adulthood, like the first day of school, graduating from elementary or middle school into high school, the first after-school job, the day we get our driver’s license, etc.  But the three major ones – the ones that mark our passage from childhood to adulthood – are in our senior year and some time later – the prom, graduation, and the class reunion.

The prom is a significant rite of passage because it is our last social event as high-school students.  For some high-school sweethearts, it is the night that marriage is proposed and accepted or rejected.  For us stags, it is one last opportunity to have an evening together before we graduate and go our separate ways to parts unknown.

Graduation is always called “Commencement,” and what an absolutely true description it is!  It is the end of our lives as students and children and the commencement of our lives as adults.  For some, it means marriage, like I said earlier.  For others, it means an actual, honest-to-goodness job.  For still others, it means military service.  And for yet others it is the bridge between high school and college.

The high-school reunion is a whole different matter.  For some, it is a time to reunite and seek the renewal of those unbreakable bonds that were formed in high school.  For others, it is a time to gather and see people from the past and also to see how we all have changed since the days that we were in Miss Grundy’s homeroom or Mr. Rehnbke’s shop class.  For still others, it is an event along the road from Point A to Point B.

I did not attend my 10-year reunion because I was living out in Montana and it would not have been practical for me to go back.

I did attend my 25th reunion, and I had a wonderful time.  I sat at the same table as a guy I never really knew in high school, and in the three hours we were there, Dennis and I got to know each other better than we ever did during 4 years of high school!  I also danced with a girl I always thought was neat and cute.  She had lived in the country, and if I had been able to drive, I would definitely have pursued her.  I also danced with a girl named Georgina, whom I had known since third grade.  I told her that I had a HUGE crush on her in third grade, and she laughed and said that she knew it.  We both shared some nice laughs over those wonderful long-ago days.

In short, my 25th class reunion was so wonderful and marvelous that I decided to attend the next major reunion we had, which was the 40th reunion in 2000.  I went to that one and vowed to NEVER AGAIN attend a reunion.

Carol and I lived in Colorado, and since I don’t drive, it was a 2-day trip.  We got into Albia on a Friday.  There was an informal get-together at a restaurant and bar that night, with the actual reunion the next evening at the Country Club.  Albia was celebrating a local festival called “Restoration Days,” in honor of the restoration of our Victorian town square in the 80s.  The parade was next morning, and our class was to be on a float in the parade.

We had our informal get-together, and someone said that we were to meet at the high school to get on the float.  On our way home to my mother’s house, where we were staying, I said that I wanted to ride the float, but that Carol didn’t need to drive me to the high school.  I would walk there, just like I used to do all those years ago.  Carol said that that was fine.

The next morning, I got up, had breakfast, got ready, and walked to the high school.  But there was no one there!  There wasn’t a float either.  I ran into an old friend from my days in the Methodist Church in Albia, and we visited and caught up on things.  I said that I was there to ride our class’s float in the parade, and he said that there hadn’t been anyone around the school and there wasn’t any float there during the time that he was there.  I told him that I had a very good idea of what happened.  We chatted some more, and then I walked back home.

As soon as I walked in the door, Mother asked me, “Is the parade over all ready?” and I told her that I didn’t ride in the parade.  She asked me why, and I told her that there was no float or anyone there at the high school.  Carol said that they had said last night to meet at the high school to ride the float, and I said yes they did, but apparently they had changed their minds after we left.  Mother then said, “They didn’t want you on the float with them?” and I said, apparently not.  Carol then said, “I have always heard that small towns are cliquish.”  Mother then said, “Albia is, believe you me!  All three of the kids went through what Bill did this morning all of the time that they were in that high school.”

My brother and his family from Davenport came shortly afterward, and we all had a nice visit.  My brother from Des Moines came down for a few hours on Sunday, and Mother had all of her boys home once again.

A few days later, it was time to return to Colorado.  As we went down the road, I apologized profusely to Carol for her having to drive and for having come to Iowa for this fiasco.  She said, “Honey, the trip wasn’t a fiasco.  You had a nice visit with your mother and you got to see your brothers again.  Those two things made the trip worthwhile.”  That was the kind of woman she was.

We drove on, and then she said, “Honey, I have made an ironclad decision.”  I asked her what it was.  She said, “My 50-year reunion is coming up in four years, and I have decided that I am definitely NOT going back for it!”  I said, “Are you sure?”  She said, “Absolutely!!  I saw how hurt and disappointed you were when your class didn’t want you on their float.  The kids in my class treated me like the kids in your class treated you, and I have no desire in the world for putting myself through what you went through this weekend.”  Sure enough, when 2004 came, not a single word was said about going back to Wisconsin for her class reunion.  My experiences at my 40th reunion definitely made an impression with her.

So what is the take-away from this experience?  Mainly this:  Be very, VERY aware that the position that you occupied in high school will be the position that you occupy at the reunion.  If you were in a clique in school, that clique will be alive and well and ready to re-form at the reunion.  If you were an outsider in school, you will be an outsider at the reunion.  And if people didn’t have a lot to do with you in school, you will not be invited to be a part of anything special like riding a float in a parade.  It is hard and sad, I know, but that is just the way things are.

I know that someone will say that not all reunions are like this, and he or she is right.  My 25th reunion was wonderful and glorious, and it was because of this fact that I put myself through the awful weekend of my 40th.  But too many reunions ARE exactly like my 40th, and this is why I wrote this diary — to try to spare someone the pain and disappointment that I experienced.

There is an old Chinese axiom that says, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me!!”  I am a VERY FIRM pracxtitioner of that philosophy.  I got fooled once into putting myself through the agony of my 40th reunion.  I will NOT put myself through it a second time.  For that reason I have determined that I will NEVER, EVER AGAIN attend a reunion of my high-school graduating class.  I made that decision myself, and I am just fine with it.

Thank you for allowing me to vent for once.  I appreciate your time and patience.  All of you have a good day tomorrow and in the days to come.

Bill

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August 27, 2017 - Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous | , ,

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