There’s a line in Ocean’s 11 (Clooney, not Sinatra) where Rusty, played by Brad Pitt, is giving Linus, played by Matt Damon, some last minute instructions on how to play his con on Terry Benedict, played by Andy Garcia. It goes something like this:
Don’t use seven words when four will do. Don’t shift your weight, look always at your mark but don’t stare, be specific but not memorable, be funny but don’t make him laugh. He’s got to like you then forget you the moment you’ve left his side.
This sums up much of my high school existence (though I hope I made at least a few people laugh). I had a lot of friends and ran with what I suppose would be considered the “cool” crowd. I went to all the parties, played all the sports, and was generally well liked by most, at least as far as I know. However, I never did anything truly memorable, was never the most outgoing or outspoken, and was never an overflowing fountain of self-confidence. And that was fine with me. Sure, there were the usual moments of teen angst, Eddie Vedder was at his teeth-grinding best in those days, and but for the most part I enjoyed high school. For the most part. I bring all this up not as some sort of reverse egomani-ism, but because this past Saturday was my 10 year high school reunion.
I’ve kept in touch with a few of my classmates, but many I either hadn’t seen at all or at least not very often. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Have we all gotten past silly high school/early 20’s rifts and grudges? Am I going to have anything in common with many of them any more? I didn’t know. I was a little nervous before we headed out for dinner. I don’t know why exactly, and at any rate it was completely unfounded. It was actually a very fun evening.
Some had met at a park in the afternoon for a kid friendly get together and then in the evening the grown-ups gathered for dinner. It was a lot of fun to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in several years and to see what’s changed and what hasn’t. We all agreed Gina looked the most different. We met each other’s spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends, talked and laughed a lot about old times, and what our plans are for the future. After dinner the party rolled on down the street to another venue for more chit-chat and laughs. I wasn’t a drinker in high school, or college, but prodded by some the other fellas I figured, “What’s one night?” Well, if you’ve been alcohol free for 28 years, one night is a heckuva lot. I didn’t drink much…just enough to jump up on a table, rip off my shirt, and scream “I claim this land for Spain!” at the top of my lungs. Not my finest moment. But still better than when they actually got me off the table and were leading me out of the bar (the manager kicked us out for some reason) and I kicked some random guy in the groin…ok, none of that really happened, but I thought I was starting to sound stale (starting?). Anyway, we did hit up a bar until about 2AM and, despite Jason’s best efforts, I remain as dry as the Sahara desert. After the bar closed down, most of the gang headed out to Denny’s because Danny wanted pancakes. My evening however was ending. I said my good-byes, exchanged some phone numbers, and headed home.
Reunions are strange events. On the one hand you’re getting together with people you havn’t seen in many years who you may not have that much in common with anymore. At the same time, you’ve got a history of several years where you spent almost every day with them. So it’s similtaneously different and the same. That’s about the best way I can explain it. Hopefully, all of us can get together again before the next decade goes by.