Who ARE those people?

My wife and I met in High School, dated throughout college (at different schools – that wasn’t easy), and got married when I finished grad school and she finished Pharmacy school. “That’s nice. And I care why?,” you’re thinking. You likely don’t, but it gives some context for this page.

We just had our 30 year High School reunion.

That was this past weekend (July 30th and 31st) in fact. The organizers used Facebook to track down a large portion of the class, and it had been in the works for almost one full year. Watching it come together really built the excitement we felt as it approached. We wanted to go, hopeful that it would be more fun than annoying. It was. Both. But more fun than annoying, which feels like it was indeed successful.

There were two nights of festivities: the first night was a tour of the old school followed by a cocktail reception, and the second night was the more traditional open-bar-followed-by-dinner. We missed the tour but made the cocktail reception, and made it just in time for the dinner. Just because we were excited didn’t mean we’d show up on time. [Note to self: Write about how we just can't seem to get to anything of a social nature on time.]

One thing just felt wrong though – it seemed like 3 other schools had scheduled their 30 year reunions at the same time and place as ours. I recognized only about 25% of the people; the others I had absolutely no recollection of, and seeing names and yearbook photos did zip to help. Some of them remembered me, but I just drew a blank. As far as I know, they’re Pod People. There is no way to prove to me that they were people I went to school with, if I actually did go to school with them. We’re done discussing them – those Pod People were creepy, and I have no idea who they were if they weren’t Pod People.

As for the 25% I did remember, I tried to figure out WHY I remembered them but forgot those others (assuming they’re not Pod People, but we’re not discussing them any more). There’s 4 predominant reasons why I remembered them:

  • I went to school with them since Kindergarten; or
  • We played together on a sports team; or
  • They were High School Party Friends; or
  • They were the Hot Chicks.

Kindergarten Buddies: These people I could never forget. They’re like relatives – you might not see them for a while, but you’ll remember your Cousin Bobby. 40+ years later, I still know their birthdays. There’s “The Josh’es,” of course, and Eleanor, Linda and Billy (who now goes by Bill, because he’s some kind adult or something) and Abby (can’t forget that laugh). Then there’s those people who couldn’t be bothered to show up, but I still remember them – Fred, Tommy K among others. Those who were there were mad at those who “had better things to do.”

Teammates: With a lot of these people, the only connection I had with them was Football or Baseball. (I played Ice Hockey in High School and College, but none of those guys came this time). Even with the limited contact of a 12-week football season, 3 hours a day for 12 weeks has a way of building trust and bonds that don’t go away easily. We thought we were great players, but 30 years later we understand how mediocre we really were.

Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers: These are the ones you’d think you wouldn’t remember because of massive beverage consumption, but the shared risk of being an underage drinker (kids, you really shouldn’t be doing this now – the world was a simpler place back when we did this stuff. Our youngest is just entering High School herself, and she has to sign pledges and honor codes and …) also connected us. A subcategory of this group are those people that were pre-alcohol: the ones I would go bowling with or hang out playing video games (wicked cool ones, link Pong, Space Invaders, and Asteroids).

Smokin’ Hot Babes: There’s a group of people I remember that I couldn’t quite figure out why. They didn’t fit in one of the first three categories, and when I listed them out (no WAY I’m going to name them – the ones who know they’re hot already know they’re hot and the ones that think they’re hot but aren’t would just be offended). Everybody remembers the Hot Chicks. Teenage Boys (I was one of those back then) obviously remember the Hot Chicks, but so do Teenage Girls. Some, but not all, are still hot, but back then they all were. And since everybody knew them, and I was part of everybody, I remember them because they were memorable. Often (but not always) vacuous, but memorable nonetheless.

Overall, the nights were quite a good deal of fun. Alcohol-wise, a rather large quantity was consumed. Even though only about 30% of our class showed up, they drank enough for 100% of the people. Stick an open bar in front of people and they really can’t help themselves.

As a “Beer Snob” (see the About page), I felt like I didn’t fit in – all the other adults either like what I call “grown-up drinks” (Phil, a Hell Raiser, prefers a nice “Absolut Citron and water, rocks, with a lemon” – Yuck) or crappy beer (something from St. Louis or one of it’s indistinguishable competitors – golden, ice cold, bereft of flavor). So at the place that had some decent beer, I had that: Guiness Pub Draft from a can – too cold but I got a warm glass, and it bloomed very nicely – which was way better than Phil’s grown-up drink. At the place that had crappy beer (“Sir, we have them all: MGD, Miller Lite, and, oh right, Corona Light” – The Three Amigos of bad beer), I broke down and got a grown-up drink, but one that tasted ok – a Long Island Iced Tea.

The food was below average, quite frankly. The Saturday event was held at the same place where my wife and I got married 25 years earlier, and I recall the food being a lot better. They did manage to sneak in a vegetable that I suspect most of the people in the place had no idea what it was – Parsnip. You just don’t get a lot of Parsnip in the Chicago area. Roughly it’s a white carrot, but not as sweet.

Before everyone got too friendly with the barman, there was an announcement that the next gathering of this group would be in 10 years. At this reunion, the list of deceased classmates seemed quite a bit longer than at the last reunion (10 years ago). Some of the names drew shocked responses, others people seemed well aware of. Next time the list will be longer – it certainly isn’t going to be shorter, and it’s simply a reminder of our own mortality. When we graduated high school, the whole concept of us dying was anathema. Now we get too many reminders, like this one.

Alright, enough melancholy for one post. Bedtime, and on to a new day.

2 comments to Who ARE those people?

  • pj

    Ron, I got into your little blog here. As I was reading it your voice was in my head. I like love the stream of consciousness writing. It has kick started my stream of consciousness writing.

    As I was reading this post about the 30th reunion I was wondering which category I fit into. I knew I did not go to Kindergarten with you – I was a Montessori Method Child (that explains everything, doesn’t it Ron?) I didn’t play sports; I didn’t drink …. beer ….. and although I am smokin’ hot, I am not a female. I didn’t think I was a hell raiser, but crazy people don’t know they’re crazy either, do they?

    So, I think I should say thanks Ron.

    I am proud that at the formal dinner you tried a “grown up drink”.
    I must defend myself on one thing here: You point out my ‘crappy taste’ in beers. I am not a beer snob, but do agree with your Miller Lite and Corona dislike. I don’t mind MGD – it is a safe choice for someone with pedestrian beer tastes like me. I do like Modelo, Dos Equis, and Peroni, but we didn’t get that far in our stream of consciousness drinking and talking on Friday.

    It really was good to see you two again. I wish we had more time together, but perhaps another time. Sometime we can talk about reminders of our own mortality.

    Well, be Good Ron, and take your Haldol.

  • mike_mikottis

    Hey Ron! Yeah,your exploration of reasons for remembering some people but not others at a 30 year reunion is thought provoking and funny. Especially for someone like myself who is known for an alarming lack of short term memory coupled with often vivid recollections of distant past events. Another memory trigger: I think the uniqueness and novelty of a person or thing plays a big role. For example, I shall never forget the loudest sound I ever heard a palmetto tree make (tree 50 feet from tee box being struck by a Ron Crocker drive). And as long as I am tattling, I also seem to recall you once drinking something involving Chambord… and that’s an adult beverage- at least in France or somewhere. The room was spinning. Well, actually it was- it was a revolving bar. Rule: never let the elevator go past your table more than three times. Anyway, good luck with the snobbery- I’m sure you will be great at it!

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