Sunday, October 21, 2007

It's Sooner Than You Think

Just got back from our 25th High School Reunion – The Class of 1982 from Park View High School (PVHS). The reunion was put together fast and spearheaded by Lisa Loyd – we owe her a great deal of thanks. She missed the 20th but was right on track with this one. In many regards her efforts to pull this one together was probably a direct result of her missing the 20th and wanting to make up for lost time with our classmates. I think she delivered. Planning for our 20th took a committee of 8 and planning that required well over a year of effort. Lisa put the entire reunion together in less than two months. It was a big success. But these off year reunions are not the biggies. Our 30th will be a big one, as will our 40th, and God willing 25 years from today many of us will get together to celebrate our 50th – I will be a young 67 at the time, hopefully retired and hopefully still playing soccer. One of the players on my current team turned 70 last week. He only plays a few minutes each game – but what a spirit and he always brings the beer. There might even be of few of us out there that can make it to a 75th reunion - don’t know if it’s in any of our genes to make it to that age but wouldn’t it be a special occasion for a few, even just two or three lucky ones, to come together at a 75th reunion and to look into each other’s old and wise eyes to remember the rest of us. But that’s half a century from now and by then the world will be a different place. Florida might even be underwater by then. Wouldn’t that be an inconvenient truth! Let’s hope not but I still drive an SUV and so technically am not helping. I still have not watched Al Gore’s movie. I should, and I know I should buy a Hybrid—maybe before our 30th reunion.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves—it’s only 2007. George W. is still President and we are still in Iraq. Today we forgot about the world’s problems celebrated 25 years since our graduation and everybody had fun. How can you not be having fun if you stay up until 6 in the morning? I put my tired body to bed early. I had no idea the party was far from over. Perhaps it’s better that way because as you can see I like to write things down, and something’s shouldn’t be put into writing. I’m glad most of you still dragged your tired butts to the picnic and brought your kids along to meet my daughter. My nine-year-old really didn’t know why she was there – other then to play in the sand, hunt crayfish, and try to keep from falling in the pond. She knows about family reunions, but it was hard for her to get a grip on my high school reunion. She had trouble relating because she couldn’t recognize anyone – which from her perspective seems appropriate. At family reunions she will see her cousins or at least family members she will have met once or twice before. She has a pretty good reason for not recognizing anyone. I, on the other hand, have no excuse. The first unfortunate thing I noticed was that the name tags were small, very small. I could barely read my own name let alone scope some familiar face from across the room. That was unfair – for the next reunion we will need to produce geriatric size name tags with big yearbook pictures on them. The good news though is that everyone is having the same problem and everyone is humble with regard to their own failed memory and gracious in the acceptance of everyone else’s. Here’s and example. I talked to Mike Del Principe all night, insisting that it was in fact him. I never understood that it was Paul Del Giudice to whom I was actually talking and once I had figured that out, I still insisted that I understood why I thought he was in fact Paul Del Giudice, the friend who I had run into in Rosslyn many years ago. So I apologized to him, Mike Del Principe, for making this grievous mistake. Only to have him point out to me that he was in fact Paul Del Giudice. Did everyone follow that? Well the good news is that Paul has invited everyone down to his house in Richmond at anytime. The basketball star, Mark Siford is up for the journey and will probably be planning the road trip soon. Mark apparently is a tremendous athlete in his forties despite his aversion to sports back in the day. Mark, of course, wins the award for the longest to shortest hair, by choice. You might think to include Chuck Green and Scott Flint in the short hair by choice category, but they seem to have had the advantage of nature.

What a treat to have Donny Alt’s band playing. Terrific extended long set, after extended long set. And to pull out Led Zepplin’s, “Moby Dick” as well as the Rolling Stone’s “Paint it Black”, is to rewrite a page straight out of a Doris Callahan party – with her parents out of town. The only thing missing was the quarter toss and puking kids in the bathroom, which since I didn’t attend the all-nighter at Lori and Wayne’s, I can only imagine what I missed. My loss. Nevertheless, the Happy Hour was an overwhelming success mixing the current bar flies with the PVHS Class of 1982. And we took over the bar, monopolizing the front door, the back room, most of the bar, the upper terrace and of course the dance floor. Some of the Holiday Inn regulars were even putting on our name tags to join the party. And if you bounced from group to group, and listened closely, a theme was emerging – not as strong a theme as had been present in ’92 –“Getting Started” or in ’02 “Working Hard and Living Life”, but a new and subtler theme that grew louder as the evening worn on and throughout the next day. A theme that was echoed not only by the list of missing classmates sitting by the front door but in almost every conversation I overheard. And a theme punctuated by Todd Markulic using his cell phone to call wayward classmates from the bar. The subtle theme was screaming by the end of the picnic on Saturday, “Where Are You Class of 82?” At this reunion no one seemed to care too much about careers, we’ve all had one or two. Families are important, but most of us have had a few of those as well and now we are either comfortable or tired – and while it once was easy to keep track of a first wife or first child’s name, it’s not as important to remember all the current details of a third child or a second husband. This was our class reunion, what is important is the Class of 1982. In many regards I see this reunion as the kick-off for preparations for our 30th. It’s closer then you think. And no one was thinking about a vote as to whether or not we will have one, that’s a given. But a reunion doesn’t just happen it takes work.

Some of that work I failed to do and I feel a guilty that we missed a good portion of our class. We should make it a goal to contact at least 90% of our lost and missing, why? Because we want to know and we care where they are. Not because we want to show off – that was our 10th & even 20th reunion, but because we want to know where you are and we want you here. It was 300 of us during those four years at Park View. We wouldn’t be the Class of 1982 with out every single one of you. We fatally lost only a few classmates in these first 25 years – we will begin to loose even more over the next 25. There is sprint and camaraderie that transcends the burden of our real world lives and the superficiality of our social status. We showed up to be a part of the reunion and we simply missed those who were not with us. Where are you Class of ’82? Our union is simply weaker without you here. Our union is stronger if we try to remember and reach out to as many classmates as possible. I failed to contact my friends living on the west coast – what a mistake for not giving them the chance to make the decision on their own and to be there. Here are some of the missing, Marc Domer and Dennis Pratt – my best friends who I didn’t call because Marc lives in southern California and Dennis lives in Oregon. Marc, by the way, was running around in his new Dodge Viper on Saturday so I don't feel too bad that he wasn't there – he sends his best to everyone. Also, we run the risk of further alienating those who for some reason or another, simple didn’t like high school and would rather forget. I didn’t like high school but after 25 years, I have forgiven, or more like forgotten, the bad things. I don’t want the PVHS Class of 1982 to only be made up of those whose email addresses we happen to have and the few of us who have made the 10th, the 20th, and the 25th. The class just doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to everyone who attended PVHS with us from 1978 and 1982.

So I missed my good friends Mark and Dennis, but I also missed Mike Wilton and Mark Craig. I did get to talk to Bill Smyada who still lives in Houston and works for the FAA, his wife is still a t-sip and I’m so glad he came to town. But I missed Mark Von Gersdorff and Kevin Dorward. Joe Shray who missed our 20th but flew in from England to be with us, he works for Raytheon and hopes to come back to the States soon, I’m glad he came. But I missed Scott Thurston and Chris Bennett. Pat Tewell, the banker, brought his beautiful wife who really had no idea Pat was a motor head in school. To bad that didn’t help him with his two flat tires. Sorry Pat, but glad you came. I missed Lia Silva and Karl Scofield. Raj, Jimmy, Kevin, and Al came – still funny and full of spirit and energy – and you know how I can tell Raj is gay? Because he grabbed my butt ever-so gingerly. I’m glad you all came. But I missed Robert Rudzinski and Mike Chapman. Liz and Monica were there, each with many kids on their minds. The two of them were still glued at the hip throughout the evening just like in school. Although they don’t talk too much between reunions you would have thought differently. I’m glad you both came. But I missed Paul McLaughlin and Justine Menapace. And hey John Dawson did you get to talk to Chuck Green? You both work for the same organization. I’m glad you came, but next time twist Sherry and Susan Mann’s arms a little harder -since they missed our 20th as well. And Diana, Teresa, and Susan who I didn’t get to talk too much—it wouldn’t be a reunion with out any of you. I’m glad you came. But where was Becky Latta and Dan Lasic. And of course Darlene was there, but she wore sunglasses so I didn’t recognize her, I’m glad you found Kent and brought him. But where was Dennis Darnes, Don Bostic, and Rich Dodrill. Oh wait, Rich was there, still believing GM makes the faster cars. MOPAR rules! And Lori and Wayne who brought their 21-year-old beauty queen to the picnic. She’s 21 now so I can say that without getting into trouble. I’m glad you came and I look forward to some all night parties down in Melbourne next year. And Donna Sours, my sister showed up late to the picnic, sorry you missed her she wanted to chat. Ellen Luster was the girl who hung out with you two. I’m glad you came. But I missed Debbie Hill, Richard Dwyer, and David Earl. And Lisa Zuraw, who popped in at the last second, and mentioned Coach Jim Hartung. She still works with him of all people. It was great to see you, I’m glad you came.

I really want to thank everyone else who showed up to make our reunion a reunion – if I didn’t mention you I will probably remember tomorrow and feel like a jerk. I’m glad each and every one of you came. And to Vicki and Beth a special note to please be a part of planning our 30th – Lisa has given us a great start. There were many missing but we are on their trail. So that’s it. Five years later. A lot has changed but very little has changed. We are still very much the PVHS Class of 1982. I want to see you all of you and everyone else we can find in 2012. It’s sooner than you think.