Shaking hands with a fellow classmate whom you haven’t seen in fifty years while glancing discreetly at his name tag and trying like heck to remember him is easy enough. Realizing that neither the face nor the “hello” tag rings any kind of a bell creates more of a problem. Saying something like “what’s new with you is inane…and being unable to say anything like “oh yeah…remember when we…..” makes even less sense. After fifty years there’s been more than a little water under the bridge for all of us.
There are “moments’ however that made me really glad that I showed up on Friday night for an informal “kegger” ( the sound of which made me wince when I first heard it…like we were all going to get sloppy drunk on warm frothy beer…and THEN try to remember one another ). Actually it was more of a “carafe” night with some nice wine for a lot of us as well as chilled IC Light. My friend Ray and I have relied on each other our whole lives…with me actually filling in the blanks for him about people that we definitely knew and he definitely did not remember.
The group was made up of 18 year olds the last time I saw many of them, and the years have been kind to some of them…and ruthless to some others. There wasn’t much dark hair in evidence, except for the occasional burgundy dye jobs.
Funny though that people rarely really change. The nice guys that I remembered were just as nice as ever…had nice wives or partners, and conversations were easy…and the ones who I didn’t quite connect with way back then weren’t any easier to chat with over the weekend. There was the big state champion wrestler who was known to stop some of the bullies whenever they threatened anybody, and the guys who made me laugh in 1962 were still entertaining us in 2012.
The 50 year reunion was a mellow event…most everyone was recently retired, with lives filled with lots of joys and lots of sorrows. There was a spirit of shared comradery..maybe as survivors (30 some of our classmates were deceased), and maybe as a bunch of guys who were only becoming who they were going to be when first we were thrown together at South Hills Catholic.
The venue was great for the out of towners…at the Sheraton Station Square with great views of the Burg, surprisingly good food, and a DJ who was our age and played everything we grew up with…including the song that signaled the end of the Saturday night dances in the gym. Some of us really reconnected, and will definitely get together again soon…answering the question ” What’s new with you? ” takes quite a bit of time to answer at this point in our lives…but it’s kind of a nice one to talk about.