With all the upset of the last couple of months, I didn't write about one of the oddest events of my current life...my 40th high school reunion. That's an odd concept, a bunch of people who, largely, haven't seen each other since the last reunion, 10 years ago and some not since the one 20 years ago. Now, I'm in a better place than I was 20 years ago, and so's Heather. Although that latter isn't an issue, she didn't go to the same school that I did... But it's still hard for me to get my head around the preposterous idea that I've been out of high school for 4o years! Yeesh!
So, anyway, we show up at the "Pre-Reunion" at Kiminsky's in Poway (http://kaminskisbbq.com/site/) a nice little BBQ spot, the Friday before Labor Day. The place was crowded, already, with a bunch of middle aged folks milling about in a side dining room, one of whom I recognized. That would be Clyde Simpson, former starting defensive tackle for the 1969 Poway Titan football team (3-6 record, if I recall...) Not because I'd seen him since the 20th in 1980, but because he still looks the same! Not something that can be said for the overwhelming majority of the populace. Then, there was Dave Thompson, backup quarterback for the same team, and my favorite warm up partner before games, throwing the ball back and forth on the sidelines. Bill O'Sullivan, who put the festivities together, an outside linebacker like me, was enjoyable to catch up with, as was Dave Winter, the starter at quarterback. Like the saying goes, the older I get, the better I was. Same goes for a lot of the ex-jocks there. Some stories were swapped, lies were told, and memories dug up, turned over and reburied. It was fun, but it was weird, too.
One thing I really noticed is these people are much SHORTER than I remember. Now, I know I've lost an inch or two in vertical measurement over the last 40 years, but I remember some of these people, like Clyde and David, as having a couple of inches on me. Not anymore... And the girls? Wow, yeah, really? 5'1" or so? Really? I remember 5'6" or better... Ah, well, memory is a tricky thing...
I'm pretty happy with our stage in life, our own business, one that's relatively successful, and we're doing what we want to do. Now, Heather figured things would be a pissing contest, my career is better'n' yours, that sort of thing. That turned out to have a twist on it. It became "I'm retired, you aren't!" Wow, again. Well, I'm not retiring anytime soon, so, ya'll have fun in Mexico. Then, with further conversation, some "retirements" turned into unemployment/forced retirement. Yeah, you're living off of your retirement accounts, but you weren't exactly planning on starting drawing down those accounts when you were 58, were you? Well, I guess I can't talk, the tattered remnants of our retirement money went into starting this business, and I wasn't planning on taking this on full time until next year, not two years ago, so Plan A didn't work out for us, either. It's funny, too, how many people are self employed amongst that number, many of them in the same boat that we are. Had a job, started a side business for fun and play money, lost the job, now the fun business has to support the whole enchilada. It's not fun, when it becomes a necessity.
We had to miss the main reunion party/dinner on Saturday night, we had a wedding to shoot, but went to the Sunday picnic to hang out with the old folks some more. A few more people were there than were at Kaminsky's, some I wanted to see, so that worked out. One of the disappointments were the number of people I wanted to see who weren't there, like Rich Plunkett, my best friend in high school, now living in Pennsylvania, a couple of old girlfriends, who are now out of state, too. (divorced, too, and remarried...) But, Jackie Grey was there, and that was nice. Had a crush on her for years, and then we got to be pretty good friends after college. She used to work at North Coast Tarpaulin, where I got all the covers for all of my cars, over the years, until the closed up shop a while back. Now she's doing ceramics and selling them. One more hobby turned day job...
Another sobering thing was the number of people who weren't there because they had died over the last 40 years. Having just lost my oldest best friend, Nick Musulman, in May, that was a bit shaking. His death slapped me with my own mortality, but then the number of my former classmates who were no longer with us kind of had mortality picking up a baseball bat and pummeling me with it. You never think of yourself as vulnerable, although, if confronted, you will acknowledge that you fall somewhat short of immortal. Yeah, you're gonna die, just not in the near future. Don't count on that, buckaroo...make sure that what you're doing is what you want people to remember you doing, and make sure the people you're doing it with are the ones you want to do it with. I've re-established some old friendships that I'd let go fallow, and worked at strengthening the ones I have. I feel that's the best testimonial to those who went before me, and went before their time. I'm also trying to get new ones going with old acquaintances, like Patty Briscoe, who's a photographer, too, and with Clyde. We'll see.
Like Mickey Mantle said, "If I knew I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself," I feel like, I knew I was going to live this long, I just didn't realize how much maintenance I was going to take to get here, much less beyond. One more thing to start working on, seriously.
Ah, well, enough of this, I'm starting to feel old. And, God knows, that's not where I want to go, not now, not ever. I'm no Peter Pan, who never grew up, but I'm no Methuselah, either! G'night, yall!