In the Parking Lot

A high school reunion can be a revealing thing. At 77 years old and one year away from my 60th and certainly one of my last get togethers, the tontined survivors at the rented lodge will be an accomplished lot – they are still around! As the years roll on, survival indeed can be a significant accomplishment, but during my earlier reunions of 20, 30, and 40 years past the accomplishments and observations were of a different nature. Physical transformations of course dominated first thoughts; the star high school quarterback had gained 50 or perhaps 75 pounds versus his game-time physique. Most of the “girls” were now married with rings on their fingers.

I myself, having had at least some business success prior to my 30th get together, had parked a rented Toyota in the lot with a chance to observe many of these transformations, but my reunion experiences were quite different from the others. My budding reputation, thin waistline, and still-thick, Robert Redford-looking hair could not overcome the insecurity of my earlier high school years. Showing up at the appointed 6:00 PM cocktail hour, I remained frozen and slumped down in the driver’s seat as the now-near 50 year olds of the Los Altos High School Class Of 1962 paraded toward the front door. The clock struck 7, then 8, then 9 and still I couldn’t muster the courage to announce myself to the many classmates I no longer recognized. It was only in the lingering nighttime moments that I steeled myself enough to walk through the door and say hello to my best -- and perhaps only -- high school friend, Jerry Hearn. Very strange I said to myself later on; yet incredibly, the same scenario played out at my 40th and 50th class rendezvous. Some Bond King! But finally at my 55th, at 72 years old, with a young and beautiful girlfriend Amy (now wife) clinging to my side, I had the courage to smile, and say hello beginning at 6:30. I don’t think I deserve a gold star on my life’s resume for this observation. Requiring a beautiful woman on my arm to connect to people really deserves a demerit or two. But I’ve accepted this strange part of me if only late in life and that maybe gets a silver star. Reunions can be a revealing thing.