July 1982, Graduation Trip to Europe
What is it about a high school reunion that is eerily reminiscent of a highway accident? Is it the mandatory slow down to take stock of the situation that is your life? Is it the relief that thank-God-that-isn’t-me over there at the bar crying into my martini? Or is it the warning lights that say “Pay Attention” because another decade just flashed before your eyes while you were busy building a business, raising a child or joining the circus. Like a car wreck, you can’t force yourself to look away from your high school reunion.
Reunions often bring out the worst in us. On vacation I met a woman about to undergo a “safe” diet where she could lose 50 pounds in five weeks. “I want to look hot the way everyone remembers me,” she said. I do, too, but after having babies, breast-feeding and “forgetting” to do sit-ups for several years, I don’t think it’s in the cards. Quick fixes like plastic surgery and Botox are tempting, but knowing my luck, I’d come out looking like an aging Barbarella.
Reunions can also bring out the best in us. Mine makes me think about my classmates and how fortunate I am to still have such good friends in my life from high school days. The years and miles have not etched away the bonds.
A reunion allows us to reflect on our teachers. Dr. Rabkin insisted we read Crime and Punishment out loud and we grew to love him for it. On Halloween, Mrs. Wuliger made us homemade toffee and invited us to dress as our favorite literary characters. Ms. Wortman decoded Algebra-Trig and ended forever my “I-hate-math” crusade. Gil Chesterton and Sam Frias grumbled and pored over my Highlights proof sheets until I became a better photographer. Coach Stevens saw something in me I didn’t see in myself and encouraged me to play a great year of team tennis. Our mentors expected a lot. We didn’t let them down.
Or rather, we didn’t give them a chance to be let down. As a senior prank someone re-painted the parking lot to confuse everyone on parking assignments and strung a papier-mâché phallus on the flagpole. They never did find out who did it.
Hopefully, my sophomore at Beverly Hills High won’t find out about the pranks, either. And I don’t think I want to find out about his. That’s for him to chuckle over at his own high school reunions.
When you think high school, what comes to mind?