Tuesday, August 10, 2010

30th Reunion Thoughts

My 30th High School Reunion is approaching. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend due to work. I’m a little disappointed, although there’s no guarantee that my better friends of those days will be in attendance. Still, I can’t help but get a little melancholy about those “old days.” High school brings back a lot of memories. Time has filtered out most of the negative experiences and helped me embrace those that should last a lifetime.

There were a few highlights…and people I’ll remember fondly. My “Three Amigos” were Chuck, Ted and Greg. The four of us would usually get together for some very innocent fun. Yes, I said innocent. I was a pretty squeaky clean guy overall and had the near-invisible persona to go along with it. But I had my three buddies to engage in whatever we decided was entertaining at the moment. Many times, this involved board games. Ha! I bet you never expected playing Yahtzee to be a fond memory of teenage years. Still, I recall playing hours of the game along with Tripoly and Monopoly. (I still have “high scores” written on the inside of my original Yahtzee box in the family room). We’d play to the music of Billy Joel, Queen, Styx, or other basic rock bands of the 70’s, all whom we saw in concert in either Charleston or Huntington. We also spent many an evening at the St. Albans Mall. This was a very small mall as compared to most malls nowadays, but contained all the basic stores: an arcade, a pizza place, National Record Mart, and Baskin Robbins. It was quite the hangout of its day, as was Pizza Hut, Rax Roast Beef, Del Taco, and Church’s Fried Chicken.

I had other friends of whom I share specific memories. I recall Chuck and me visiting my friend Bruce once. We arrived unannounced and his brother let us in the front door. We ran up to Bruce’s room and arrived just as he opened his door. This startled him so much that he nearly fainted on the spot. Chuck and I fell down in hysterics. Bruce’s goal in life was to work in film as a director and I’m sure the terror on his face at that moment inspired future horror flicks somewhere.

Mark was a band friend that I later shared some party time in college. His mother taught at our junior high school and his dad taught biology at the high school. He lived in the next county, so it was always a trek, but a welcomed one, to venture out to his house for a visit. He ended up being a veterinarian as he worked so hard to get that degree. Considering his nickname was “Punkin’ Head,” I have to believe he became a vegetarian as well.

Speaking of the band, that organization created enough memories to inspire many other blogs. Starting band camp in August was an activity dreaded yet looked forward to every year. We ended up marching in all sorts of weather in every game of our undefeated football season and it couldn’t have been a better experience. It’s a shame we lost in the championship game, but what a fun season it was. I played the tuba, or sousaphone. Others that played the same were John, Mike and Rob. All three were taller than I, so it was very easy to see which sousaphone was mine on the field or in a parade… the short one.

I recall other short memories: Playing ping pong at Cliff’s house while listening to Boston. Decorating the homecoming float with a group from the marching band with whom I became close friends that last year. Writing commentary pieces for the school newspaper, “Simmerings.” Helping make a home movie about Macbeth with Tim at the camera. (I still have the “credits” we wrote on toilet paper). Singing Cheap Trick songs and “Pain” in the “Interact Jam Band.” Taking an excruciatingly slow city bus to Morgantown to watch our basketball team in the state playoffs. It was a shame we lost the championship game, but what a fun ride that was!

Then there were the girls. Sadly, none really acknowledged me due to my intense shyness (and short stature most likely), but I still had my share of crushes. There’s no need to list them now…my life has moved on and I have no regrets where my relationships have fallen. Still, like everyone, I hope the best for those I cared for in such shy ways…and I hope you know who you are.

In fact, I hope the same for everyone from the Class of ’80…as well as the teachers. Mr. Willis was a delightful chemistry teacher and possibly my favorite. The late Mr. Keadle was passionate about his marching music. Mrs. McClanahan was beautiful, and also provided great guidance toward writing for the newspaper. And even Mr. Morgan is much appreciated, although I’m sure he’d have a real hissy fit at some of my grammatical errors in this piece.

I hope old friends reunite this weekend as the Class of ’80 gathers in St. Albans. And I also hope that those who were never really close so many years ago feel a greater closeness to other classmates now as we grow older and witness our own children growing up. There are many phases in life that fill our lives with incredible memories. Life in high school was no different.

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