It occurred to me today that my 30th class reunion is exactly six months away. WHICH MEANS, I have six months to lose probably five pounds. (I don't know exactly how many because I'm afraid to step on the scale. All I know is that I have rolls sound my waist.)
Things do change by the 30th reunion. Not just how many mates you've had or how many grandchildren you have, but they way people view and behave at the 30th reunion.
Here are my class reunions, from my point of view:
10th Reunion: At the 10th reunion there was as much pressure and effort to look good as there was for any "big dance": looking months in advance for “just the right dress,” growing your hair out for “just the right look,” and insisting you spouse come along so you could show him or her off (almost like a prize). Most of us were just beginning our careers, some had been married just a little while, and some of us were having the first of our children. Others were on their second spouse already and had not accomplished much at all. The point was you felt you had something to prove; that you had risen above the limitations of high school, matured, married well, and made something of yourself.
There was an invitation mailing (this was before the Internet and Facebook). There was a fee to cover the weekend activities. There was pamphlet listing what each classmate was doing/where living/who married to now. Friday afternoon many participated in a newly established scholarship golf tournament honoring one of our lost classmates. Friday night featured a casual gathering with snacks, and Saturday night featured a more formal buffet dinner where everyone dressed up real fancy-like. Sunday, before we all went our separate ways, we had a picnic at the beach. Definitely a lot of work for the organizers.
The men had not all yet lost their hair and gained their pot bellies, and the women were still somewhat slim themselves. Some classmates had already left us, and their pictures were on a table with a votive candle in front of each: one hit by a car, one lost in a farm accident, a possible suicide, another one, a good friend of mine, an early victim of AIDS. Five boys in all by 1991. The 10th reunion was the one and only time my good friend Derb has attended a reunion so far. I wish I could see him again.
20th Reunion: The tone is noticeably more casual, and e-mail was used to get the word out. The Mike Hazelton Memorial Scholarship Tournament on Friday and the gathering at the fire station on Friday night, featuring a local band made up of classmates from our class and the class before us. It was off to the Elks club on Saturday night for more of the same. New mates all around, more grandparents, and many who are gay finally feel comfortable in their own skin and are able to “be themselves.” The 20th reunion had a substantially more relaxed atmosphere with old friends who are just happy to see each other again, spending a couple of hours together.
25th Reunion: Was five years too soon after the last reunion? The celebration is much like the 20th, but on Saturday night, it's a 70s dance party at a bar we all used to frequent, a place that has seen better days. I had to miss the Saturday night event, but rumor has it my down-the-street childhood-playmate-neighbor, who's now a law professor at the University of Baltimore, danced on a table in leather pants. Pictures don't lie, Mike.
Some classmates are on their third marriage, with multiple children all around for most. Bridging the gap with small talk and trying to make a connection, the focus turns to talk of careers and the passing of family pictures with these familiar strangers, and sometimes it’s hard to see our friends in the faces who have changed so much.
30th Reunion: Coming up the first weekend in July. Featuring the usual activities, but there’s comfort in the routine, isn’t there? Formality is out the door, but this year there may be a special surprise: the organizers have invited April Wine, the late 70s, early 80s Canadian rock band who sang MCHS Class of ’81’s signature long, We Like to Rock, have been invited to perform for our group. It may cost more, but wouldn’t been be cool?
People are more confident, and some of the spouses might even be encouraged to stay home (“you’ll be so bored,” or “I really want to just hang and catch up with friends for the night”) as our confidence ourselves as adults has increased. Most of us aren’t that afraid to go places by ourselves, and we don’t need a spouse to demonstrate our success. We are defining success on our own terms. No offense to our spouses, but this has become about “us” again.
The 30th reunion table of classmates who have passed will feature a couple more: one lost to cancer, one to cystic fibrosis. There are those who have never come to a reunion, and this year will be no different. Or, maybe this will be “the year” since they have reconnected with so many old friends on Facebook (peer pressure, even when you’re in your late 40s = a good thing). There will be others of us who will attend to bask in the illusion of ease and grand happiness that we think characterized our teen years, as we step back in time for just a little while.
To follow Massena Central High School Class of 1981 reunion to see how it all turns out at their big event this year, follow the link that contains our motto, from the April Wine song, We Like to Rock at www.welike2rock.com.