I remember seeing the play Brigadoon when I was in Junior High School. It was a story of a magical village that reappeared every 100 years. It wasn’t a hundred years but my High School class of 1967 reappeared after 50 years in a weekend class reunion and it was magical. I, like most of you, have mixed feelings about reunions since some of our High School experiences sucked, but believe me when I tell you that after 50 years nobody cares if you were: smart or stupid (a little harsh), rich or poor, popular or loser, athletic or challenged, beautiful or plain, bullied or bullier, since 50 is different–everyone is just happy to see other survivors and either can’t remember or choose to ignore past drama.
From the time we checked into the hotel the Reunion Committee made sure that all were greeted like long lost best friends whether you were the prom King/Queen or a dark loner. The traditional name-tags with your High School photo was issued so all could recognize who that old person really is and greet them with the obligatory: “You look great”. Whether you’re young or old name-tags rock since I am name retention challenged. Wisely the class organizers offered discounted rooms so the already disoriented didn’t drive after adding to that “where am I” state with some drinks. The well thought out welcoming plan included a hospitality room to pass the down time by reacquainting attendees, offering free beers and snacks to help dull the shock of seeing and re-configuring aged classmates. There was also a display table showing off the amazing creative talent in the class.
The formal festivities started with a get together at our hometown American Legion. Going to an American Legion is like taking a time machine back to the 60’s complete with all the beer we drank at 16—what’s an IPA? It’s always an initial shock when all of us self-perceived youthful, fit looking people see all the old people but the joy of reconnecting with the people who you did all your firsts with morphs all into those 60s kids. And since we are all old you can be confident that even the people who look like they haven’t changed a bit on the outside have some sort of crap going on inside. But the Legion is the perfect environment for 150 old people to gather, listen to live 60’s music (performed by classmates), and pretend they can have conversations over the amped music—”Great to see you!-What? What? What? What?”…In spite of only being able to hear every other word the night really belonged to our great High school Band musicians and singers (some professionals today) reunited to rock the house.
Saturday night was the big party at the Marriott with dinner and a DJ playing our 60s music all coordinated by our, as good as Jimmy Kimmel, master of Ceremonies John P. It started with a Happy Hour reconnecting long lost friends and connecting new friends who wouldn’t have even considered talking to each other in our school days. Seniors, use to discounts, were a little shocked at the premium hotel prices for drinks but this wasn’t a group that needed many wines or beers to put them to sleep. Dinner and dinner companions were great: aggrandizing our teenage adventures, making up old people crap, listening to the deserved compliments to those who worked so hard on the reunion, and watching presentations on our glory days and tributes to military service people and our lost classmates. And after dinner the hunger for those senior freebies was finally satisfied by the serving of hundreds of pastries met by a shark-like feeding frenzy. Dancing showed glimpses of past “American Bandstand” moves blended with Seinfeld’s Elaine moves. But mostly it was conversations with a group of people just looking to have fun and share their life experiences, love, and respect with those who belonged to an exclusive club—the class of 67.
And then as quick as it had started the reunion weekend was over and the magical village would fade into fond memories of spending time with great people who you wished you had spent more time with way back when.
If you are thinking of skipping a 40th or 50th reunion—reconsider. The truth is that a lot of our High School experiences were painful, but the mind seems to filter out the bad stuff as we get older and so the 50th is a total redo with an opportunity to party with a whole new group of people. I really took advantage of the redo since I was pretty unfocused in High School and a pain to teachers, so my redo was being able to buy a beer for one of those teachers and receiving a thank you! And thank you to all who attended and made this a definite bucket list experience.