Recently I jumped at the opportunity to attend my forty-fifth high school reunion. Orlando in the late sixties was a much different place in which to grow up than it is now. Weekends would find us at the Orlando Youth Center, which is still a viable
community gathering site in the middle of town. What better place to reunite
than the building in which we boogied to the rocking sounds of Louie Louie and
experienced the highs and lows of teenage romance, and/or angst.
A lot of changes take place in the span of forty-five years and no one can prepare you for the in-your-face realization that, yes, you really are sixty-three years old. However, my car found its way to the parking lot without using the GPS, and it was like time stood still and froze in the year 1966.
The hours went by in a blur of catching up with long-lost friends and, upon reflection of the evening’s events over the days to follow, some tips come to mind, which might help ease others into the crazy world of the high school reunion…
- For those ladies who have packed on the inevitable extra pounds, leave the Spanx (a girdle by any other name) at home and dress comfortably. The majority of your classmates have grown into the same weighty issues.
- Make sure your name tags are large enough for everyone to see – you’ll be surprised at how many people will not recognize you (am I that forgettable?), and vice versa (who the heck was that?). Don’t hesitate to ask them to remind you who they are; chances are they don’t remember you either.
- If you don’t recognize the face or the name, just listen to them talk. We all
agreed that the voice was one thing that did not change with years of physical
changes. The inflection and tone of one’s speech, and the facial expressions
that accompany them, made all the years melt away.
- Unless you married your high school sweetheart, leave the spouse behind. Your partner in life will thank you for it and you will have a much better time not worrying about them. It also saves the embarrassment of having to introduce someone, whose name you cannot recall, to your husband or wife, whose name you may have also momentarily forgotten.
- Exercise those facial muscles in advance of your gathering. You will find yourself smiling like a fool for hours on end…still smiling days afterward.
- Be prepared to deal with clueless dummies who might rush up to you and bring up an embarrassing event from the past by blurting out, “Are you the one who…(fill in the blanks).” Yes, that really happened and we can only hope his excuse was that he suffered a medical incident somewhere along the line and lost the brain cells associated with tact, which would explain his rudeness.
- Leave any discussion of politics at the door. I learned the hard way that those of us in our sixties are very opinionated and, unless you want to witness fisticuffs and name-calling among a group of baby boomers, just don’t mention anything regarding the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, or the upcoming presidential election. Trust me, you will lose Facebook friends by the droves.
- Did I mention, don’t talk about politics? Add religion to that mix. Our class was from a small Catholic school so we all had religion embedded into our psyches at an early age. Many of us have strayed, however, to every religion, or
non-religion, in the book. Better to just not talk about it, or be ready to
have your arthritis pain or extra pounds handled with scripture verses…true
- Leave the pictures of the grandkids behind. No one really cares that you have a
budding Einstein. They will just counter you with pictures of their little Dwight Howards. Admit it, you don’t really care, either.
All in all I had no regrets in my decision to join this group of aging hippies, reuniting to celebrate a time which shaped our futures. Happily, the feeling I experienced upon walking out of that night’s time warp was that, yes, I really am sixty-three years young.