See, winter? This is why I hate you. The darkness, the cold, the snow, the suckfest that is the holidays, the ear surgeries, the massive heating bills, the shitty television programming (hey, HBO. What the FUCK!?) -- It's obvious that you take great pleasure in pissing me off. It's bad enough I have to wear socks during you, but now, turning a deaf ear to the camel's creaking back, you've decided to throw one more straw on the pile: My official invitation to the John F. Kennedy High School Class of 1980 30-Year Reunion. That's right, 30 years. As in, if I really concentrate I bet I can actually feel my prostate getting bigger. As in, "I'm sorry, I can't hear you very well. I forgot to shave my ear canals this morning." As in, I'm going to the grocery store in my bathrobe, slippers and black socks.
30. Years. We're as doomed as doomed can be, I must say.
In easier days I might be aglow with thoughts of good times past. I mean high school wasn't all angsty hell, was it? Maybe if the invitation had come during one of the other three seasons I might have even felt warmly optimistic, thankful for all the good things life has brought my way. Long, strange trip and all that. But in winter, when the foul stench of death is all around, nostalgia -- especially that of the youth lost variety -- just sucks balls.
So I get the e-mail telling me to check out the Web site, which I do. And there on the home page, in front of god and everybody, is a tab labeled "Photo Gallery." I can't resist the urge to peek in. Mistake. Immediately I'm swept back to a time that I didn't really care to revisit. A time that, if one could represent it graphically, I imagine would look like a blow-dried wave of feathered hair. Concert t-shirts and jeans. Converse All-Stars. Letter jackets and gaudy-by-any-standard class rings. So much hornyness, so little time.
And the drugs, Martha. Oh, the drugs. Ours was either the luckiest or unluckiest generation in history, depending on your point of view. Ironically, I'm in the "unluckiest" camp since I feel like I missed so much life for my stonedness. In case you missed those halcyon days, let me paint a little picture for you (those who lived through it, back a brother up here): Even without the benefit of the internet, you could find drugs within 3 minutes. If it took more than 2 phone calls it was considered a drought. You never had to walk farther than 2 or 3 blocks to get what you needed. Weed was everywhere, as were hash, Thai stick, cocaine, crank, acid, mescaline, mushrooms, quaaludes, etc. And by god, I did them all. In fact, if getting stoned were an Olympic event, I'd probably have been on the Wheaties box. Here, now, sober as I am (and I am), I'm an underachiever. With 2 or 3 or 27 joints in me? Fuck, it was a wonder I remembered to breathe.
Still, I played music and sports and held a job and did the usual shit high school kids do (except have sex -- another reason I count those days as unlucky). And I imagine I've grown up to be a semi-normal person. But I wasn't "in" back then (jury's still out about now, too) (shut up). I knew people who were, and their photos -- then and now -- stared back at me on this reunion site, making me feel ... Small. Awkward. Retroactively geeky. If you have siblings you'll know what I'm talking about. You understand what it's like to grow up with a shared rhythm, then find your own groove later in a life when, at best, family played a drastically reduced role. Away from them, you grow confident. You kill a few psychic demons. You mature. You can handle yourself in any situation. And then BAM! you're thrust back together by circumstance and are instantaneously reduced to that same old goofy kid once again. You become a magic eye poster for your soul. You know the real you is in there somewhere, but fuck if you can find it though all this damn scribble.
So the question now becomes to go or not to go. My then-girlfriend went to a different high school, so that eliminates some potential awkwardness. I wasn't exactly the catch you see before you now (I said shut up!), so the odds of having to endure drunken confessions of unrequited lust are fairly low. Most of the comments in the forums on the site are sufficiently lucid and uncreepy as to lead me to believe that most of these folks are either fairly normal or good at pretending. Their "now" photos make them appear non-threatening. At the very least I believe myself to be in good enough shape that I could outrun or overpower them if shit goes down. All these plus ... er, ... non-negative column line items against my insanely juvenile reticence to re-live that unsteady, awkward feeling -- all for the ante of a $70 ticket. How lofty my wager.
I've been mulling it over for a while now, listening to this song for inspiration. I'm leaning toward going just so I have another layer of reference with which to help Thomas and Ethan through their adolescence. It's either that or the three of us just get stoneder than a bejeesus.
What would you do? Why?
Fred Bailey: "So, you wanna dance?"
Girl: "In another life!"
Fred Bailey: "Yeah, I didn't either. I was just taking a poll."
-- From Valley Girl