Offen: Remembering our high school daze

Jun. 17, 2013 @ 09:50 AM

Bill and Steve and Kenny and Howie and all the old gang were there. I had absolutely no idea who they were.

I also had no idea that their names were Bill and Steve and Kenny and Howie. They could have been Frank and Larry and Stan and Shirley.

Even if I didn’t know their names and didn’t recognize their faces or their name tags — next time, a much larger font and wear them on your foreheads, please — I apparently had gone to high school with all of them.

Why else would they have shown up at my high school reunion? It couldn’t have been the baked chicken on the menu, which appeared to be the same exact baked chicken we had had in the school lunch room some decades ago, although it had not aged well, had lots of gray hair and needed to wear support hose.

I had decided to attend my reunion because, I admit, I was curious to see how much everyone else had aged while I had stayed exactly the same. I also thought it would be a chance to remember and relive the good old days if only I could, in fact, remember the good old days.

Since I have difficulty remembering breakfast, I knew that would be a challenge. But I thought the reunion might help.

People, of course, go to high school reunions for different reasons. Paul, whom I ran into while coming in to the catering hall, said he had come “to find the creeps who used to beat me up in the lunch room and see if I’m now bigger than they are.” I think he may have been kidding, although he was carrying a hammer. 

Artie had come to see if anyone remembered what a shy, retiring, reticent guy he was, but of course he was too reserved to ask anybody. And none of us remembered him, anyway.

Many of the people from my class did return for the reunion except for the convicted criminals who had been voted “most likely to serve a life sentence.” My high school graduating class had been extremely large. Geometry class had to be divided into rhomboids. Some of us, instead, chose parallelograms. We were an unruly bunch. 

Everyone at the reunion had changed a lot. They had less hair and more weight, more eyeglasses and fewer pen protectors.

Those who returned were, of course, the successful ones, although not for the qualities that had distinguished them in high school. The vice president of the bank was no longer known for his ability to throw spitballs from the back of the room directly into the history teacher’s garbage pail. The cardiac surgeon was no longer a thumb-wrestling champion who cheated by using his index finger.

We hadn’t seen each other in years. We all promised to stay in touch and go to the next reunion. We knew the baked chicken would be waiting.

Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.