Summertime! Water fun, weddings, backyard cookouts, trips to the mountains, fireflies, even noctilucent clouds (which you can find out about at www.spaceweather.com). And graduation, which means U.S. high schools and colleges putting gazillions of seniors out on the streets.
It’s also the season for one of America’s great pastimes – no, not baseball. Reunions.
Reunions come in all kinds, sizes, and shapes -- like school classes, families, all kinds of military gatherings including fighter pilot aces, athletes celebrating a special win. Name a meaningful past event or cohorts; people will get together.
Reunions are also big business in America and generate tons of summertime spending; I’ll do my part in a few days to stimulate the economy by contributing more than my share to this business segment.
Yet, there’s a major reason to go, a reason based on some little-known research. That secret will be revealed at the end of the post.
AHS Senior Class of ‘61
I first heard the silly joke, “What’s the difference between senior pictures and pictures of seniors?” when my father told me he was going to his 50th high school reunion. I thought it was way over the top back then. (The answer to that stupid joke will be at the bottom of this post.)
Some people would rather be shot at dawn than have to attend their class reunion.
Well, I’m risking it all and going to mine. In Anchorage. That’s Anchorage, Alaska. By way of the Inside Passage on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, a cruise put together by a few classmates. There will be about 30-plus of us on board. I haven’t seen these classmates in 20 years, since our 30th reunion.
I leave Thursday to get on board. I’ve sent my money in. If I drop dead before next Thursday, well, I won’t live to regret it.
We will join lots of other classmates Friday, June 17, at (West) Anchorage High School, to begin our 50th Reunion. Over the top, alright.
A few days ago with a temperature here in Tuscaloosa at 101 degrees and my AC merely chugging along, I went to Belk to continue my spending by getting a few things. I couldn’t find them.
“Where are the socks?” I asked a couple of salespeople.
They were speechless, looking at me like I was a mental case. “I’m going to Alaska!” I added.
“Oh! They’re over there,” they replied.
Why -- looking like I look, missing all the opportunities for success I’ve missed, feeling totally inferior, not remembering stuff I should remember, having just had “procedures” I don’t want to discuss – why would I put myself through a REUNION? Yes, there’s that secret reason to be revealed at the end. But what about the CONCERNS?
Here’s my take on the CONCERNS:
Many had a tough time in high school. Here’s what I say to that: Who didn’t! We were teenagers. Give me a teenager who didn’t have a tough time and I’ll give you a corpse. Teenagers and psychopaths and sociopaths probably share many personality traits.
Many grownups still feel the sting of real or perceived affronts to their esteem. Here’s what I say to that: Who doesn’t? And let me say right here: If I committed an affront to any of my high school peers, I am most sorry for it. My excuse is that like everyone in high school, I was insane and busy dealing with the affronts aimed at me.
Regarding having suffered from an inferiority complex. Ha! This is what I say to that: I still am. Descartes should have said, “I feel inferior; therefore, I am.”
Many seniors don’t recognize the person in the mirror. I don’t, and I’m sure no one will recognize me. It’s all about gravity, pounds, bad hair color, baldness, wrinkles, dysfunctional knees and sexual prowess, bags, walkers, and whatever else we’ve added to our lives. Here’s what I say to that: It’s true. Most people won’t recognize you anymore than you’ll recognize them.
Get over it; the name tags will be HUGE.
Some will fear scorn for their fuzzy or no “accomplishments.” Here’s what I say to that: As long as we’re breathing, we’ll all continue to have to re-start our lives – for the zillionth time. I just had to re-start mine three years ago when my husband (miraculously, of 40 years) and I petitioned for and adopted our 18-month-old granddaughter.
We ALL remember envying other classmates’ looks, brains, boobs or other endowments, status in the “in crowd,” athletic heroics, scores on the SAT test, and a zillion other things. Here’s what I say to that: I envied Teresa Hanson’s pink Ford Victoria convertible. And Ginger Harris’s confidence. And Tom Kelly’s SAT scores. There, I’ve said it. But I’m going to attend anyway.
So we will come together for our 50th high school reunion – because we CAN. We’ve been given the gift of surviving long enough to have this opportunity. Seeing noctilucent clouds will just be gravy.
Those who will see their close friends, those who didn’t know each other, those who only knew each other as acquaintances – we all share this singular opportunity. All of us shared that one moment when the AHS door opened graduation night for us to begin our journey to adulthood. We all helped each other get to that point, for good or ill.
The AHS Senior Class Prom, 1961. Both the King and Queen, sitting in the chairs, will be at our 50th High School Reunion.
And finally, the main reason, a best kept secret revealed in a New York Times piece two years ago:
“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”
ANSWER TO THE OPENING QUESTION:
As far as we, the AHS Class of ’61, are concerned, there’s NO DIFFERENCE between senior pictures and pictures of seniors.