They say you can’t go back home…
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I did this past weekend. I went to my millionth high school reunion in Grand Island, Nebraska. And let me just tell you up front, this three-day affair was two days too long.
The nightmare unfolded with a Friday, ‘Let’s Get Reacquainted ‘ cocktail bash and finger food fandango. Followed by a Saturday morning walkthrough of the old high school and either an optional golf game or sipping-of-the-grapes luncheon at a nearby Nebraska winery.
See what I mean?
Then came the big event, a Saturday night sitdown dinner and dance with an obligatory oldies band. And finally – blessedly – a Sunday morning see-you-next-lifetime breakfast.
Overkill? You bet! Like I said, one night would’ve been plenty.
Now allow me to count the many ways these sort of reunion rituals suck so badly.
First off, you tell and hear the same lame stories over-and-over-and-over all day and all evening long. Where do you live? What do you do? How many kids do you have? Then you find that your high school dream girl and/or smoking hot cheerleader looks more like somebody’s grandmother on a really bad hair day. And that the school’s hot shot jock is now bald, has a giant beer belly and works as a Wal-Mart greeter. Yeesh!
Then there are the name tags. A fat guy races up with big, shit-eater smile and outstretched arms. You should know him but you don’t have a clue. So there you are – trying your damnedest to decipher his name tag – without him seeing you looking at it. Which he does.
Then there’s the dude who walks up to you acts like your long lost friend and not only don’t you recognize his face, his name is completely foreign to you. What do you say to that guy without looking like an asshole?
The final depressing ritual was our class "banquet," attended by around 200 people. During which a nauseatingly depressing count of the ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ classmates was entered into the record. That’s right, the class president read off the list of the dead people who somehow couldn’t make it.
No less than 54 former classmates were either celebrating up by the Pearly Gates or down below in you-know-where.
Speaking of helI, I must admit I still have a warm spot in my heart for many ex (Grand) Islanders.
After all, I came into their school system directly from East Germany unable to speak a word of English. And a number of them took me under their wings and helped me out. Especially the girls at the Catholic school across town.
And I’ll never forget how in junior high, the principal had me moved around to different classes – not by grade level but based on which teacher could speak a little German. So there I was, going from 7th to 9th grade and ending in an 8th grade class—all the same day.
Back to the reunion which would’ve been liveable had it been just one day. So what did I do? I pulled the old getaway as mastered by KCFX FM afternoon host Skid Roadie.
I got up from the table, pretended to head for the bathroom and then vamoosed out the door and back to my motel room.
So can you go home again? I suppose so, but it’s far from easy and can be very depressing.