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REUNIONS: THE CLASS OF 1972

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 1, 2011

When you bring up the subject of High School reunions, people tend to have mixed emotions on the subject. Some are excited about renewing friendships, others loathe the prospect of seeing someone from a dark chapter of their youth. As for me, I skipped my 10th anniversary as I wanted to distance myself from my past. Frankly, I was busy trying to build a career and didn’t consider a reunion very important at the time. Both my wife and I graduated from a small high school in Cincinnati with a total class size of less than 150. When our 20th reunion came around, my wife encouraged me to attend, which we did. Subsequently, we also attended our 30th reunion and now our 40th beckons next year. I have found the experience enjoyable and, believe it or not, I’m looking forward to next year’s gala.

In a small high school you tend to know everyone, either as friends, adversaries, or simply slugs attending the same class. I have fond memories of my time there and, like anyone, there are things I would have done differently if I had the opportunity to do it over again, but obviously such is not to be. I have made some lifelong friendships from the experience even though I was first considered an outcast who moved into the area from Chicago just prior to my Freshman year, which was significantly different from a cultural perspective. I initially had trouble adapting to the area but eventually developed friendships and found my way through High School with few scars. Along the way, I met my future wife who, like me, was new to the area and considered an outsider. Out of our class, I believe five couples married their High School sweethearts and remain so to this day, including yours truly.

Fortunately, there is still several classmates living in our hometown who helped organize the reunions over the years. Their patience and persistence in trying to do what is best for the class as a whole is truly admirable. Alas, someone always complains about the arrangements no matter how hard the group tries. The critics are usually those who like to sit on the sideline and complain as opposed to volunteering their time in planning the event. I suspect our 40th reunion will be no different.

At our 20th reunion, I found a lot of people still trying to impress each other. Men were dressed in power suits, women is beautiful dresses. Everyone was quick to show pictures of their children and played a game of one-upmanship by talking about how successful they had become. Some tried to sell themselves too much and I learned to turn a deaf ear in their direction. Most people though were down to earth and although they had aged slightly, they were the same people underneath. The drunks were still drunk; the intellectuals were still in school, the gays of the class had come out of the closet (to the surprise of nobody), and the druggies had found Jesus. Actually, I found the people who had been the quiet wallflowers of the class had blossomed into the most interesting, not to mention possessed a great sense of humor. Best of all was the opportunity to share a few laughs with old pals. As a footballer, I became reacquainted with several teammates and subsequently went on many fly-fishing trips with them.

I think the most astute comment made at our 20th was when one of the reunion organizers playfully observed, “Gee, when did we become our parents?” Although it was said half in jest, it had become a startling reality.

Our 30th reunion was different. People dressed down a bit and were no longer obsessed with trying to impress others. Instead, they appeared to be more comfortable and sociable. Photos were still shown, but mostly of graduations, weddings, and grandchildren. It was here that someone broached me with the subject of retirement, a foreign concept I hadn’t considered. For some reason, I have an aversion to the thought of being put into mothballs, but others seem to embrace the concept, even looking forward to it. To each their own I guess.

Perhaps the most interesting person I met at this reunion was a footballer who quit the team following our Junior year in protest of the head coach who was a bit tyrannical and had trouble understanding our class. As it turned out, this was a decision which haunted my friend for a number of years, something he deeply regretted as he possessed a love for the game. This disturbed him so much so, he was embarrassed to attend any of the earlier reunions. We all assured him that we were glad to see him and, as far as we were concerned, he was still a member of the team.

Now another planning committee has been formed for our 40th reunion next year. My role over the years has been to develop and maintain the web site for the class which I try to do faithfully. Between this and the general good will of the classmates, I believe we’re better organized and enjoy higher attendance than most High School classes. Regrettably, we have lost eleven classmates over the years, which may not seem like a lot, but it is noticeable in a small class like ours.

More than anything, reunions tell us about ourselves as opposed to others; how we have developed, what kind of person we have become, and if we are at peace with ourselves. Some tend to view it as a sort of scorecard to see if we are better or worse than others in our class, which strangely confirms our sense of success or failure. Some cannot cope knowing this, which is perhaps why they tend to avoid it, either that or they simply couldn’t stand anyone in the class. It would be a big mistake to assume that none of us have changed over the years, that we’re the same meatballs we were in high school. True, we may understand the essence of our classmates, but it would be wrong to assume time stopped and nobody changed. We’ve matured, we’ve made mistakes, we’ve learned, and we are wiser for it, which is why I enjoy attending the reunions. Frankly, using reunions as a scorecard is the wrong reason for attending. Instead, it should be a celebration of friendships, past and present, to laugh about the past, talk about the future, and enjoy the society of our peers.

So, do I really relish seeing my classmates? Maybe not on a daily or weekly basis, but every decade or so, it is a hoot. Here’s to the Class of 1972.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “REUNIONS: THE CLASS OF 1972”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An M.A. of Washington wrote…

    “I would rather go to my college reunions than my high school reunions! I am not sure why! I guess its because I have deeper friendships with my college friends!”

    An S.S. of Boca Raton, Florida wrote…

    Well said, Tim. I also went to a small school, we had a graduating class of 38. The alumni association started school reunions about 15 years ago, we meet every two years to celebrate. I have made it many times and look forward to next October when we will celebrate my 50th class anniversary.”

    A W.E. of Virginia wrote…

    “An interesting take on high school reunions. I admire your courage, not only for writing this essay but for actually attending the reunions. I left high school in 1955 (without graduating) and I have never attended a single reunion. Not sure of the reason. Lack of courage, I guess. Maybe I just don’t react to crowds well–nervousness turns me into the dancing bear or the wallflower. I have since met quite a few of the people from my school and a few have become fast friends, especially in the last few years, when our numbers dwindle drastically. And I thoroughly appreciate those people who take on the thankless task, who organize, write letters, phone, make arrangements and set up these reunions. But I think I’d rather stay home and sweep up dog hair and wait for the reports the day after.”

    An F.V. of Maryland wrote…

    “Great read here. I enjoyed it. Something to think about for sure.”

    A J.D. of Columbus, Ohio wrote…

    “Wonderful post. I moved over 1000 miles away from my high school and for my 10th and 20th reunions I wasn’t able to attend, both times because I didn’t have anyone to watch the kids and/or work obligations interfered. That said, it is nice to keep in contact with my high school mates on Facebook.”

    A C.A. of New York wrote…

    “Nice that you enjoyed your reunions. I have been to one, my 10th. I didn’t have fun. The people I wanted to see, I still see. Our class had 250 and I knew of most of them. I’m not a fan of crowds much either. My 20th was last year. I didn’t attend but I’m okay with it. Facebook is a great tool to connect with those you miss without pressure.”

    A K.S. of Oklahoma wrote…

    “Tim, I attended our 10th reunion and had a good time despite the fact that I was a bit of an outsider, a rebel in our class of ’77. With all of us older and wiser, we are planning our 35th next year, I am pretty pumped about it as MANY things have changes. With the addition of Facebook now, many of us have been posting on a Class of ’77 page and are all pretty excited. By the time our reunion comes next year, many of us would have been talking on FB for about a year. It will be like we just saw them yesterday and questions will be very current. Here’s to our reunions!”

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “I’ve only missed two reunions in 40 years. We do reunions every five years. Since my high school was all girls, music and dancing is not part of the program. We want to talk, look at photos of kids and grandkids and catch up on one another’s lives. Music just makes it harder to talk and hear. My observations of the changes are very similar to yours, Tim. We’ve gone from trying to impress our classmates to being comfortable with who we are. I’ve also seen some of the quiet types blossom into very successful professionals. I wonder if it’s because they had more obstacles to overcome and weren’t focused on popularity ratings.

    This hits home: ‘Gee, when did we become our parents?’ At my 25th reunion, I saw classmates who looked exactly like their moms did when we were in school, right down to the fur coats and perfect hairstyles. It was a shocking revelation.”

    A G.D. of Chattanooga, Tennessee wrote…

    “I moved out of the area from where I went to high school. For various reasons, I have never made it back up to Chicago for any of my reunions. I went to a private high school and had more friends at the local public high school than I actually had at the school that I attended. I do, however, stay in contact with classes via FB and email and do visit several friends often. Thanks for sharing your school reunions with us.”

    A B.J. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    “Great article especially since I’m also from the class of 72 and looking forward to our 40th next year. Doesn’t matter what school or how big the class… you analysis rings true.”

    Like

  2. […] the summer I’ll be attending the 40th reunion of my High School Class (of 1972). This is not the first time I have attended a reunion. We go to rekindle old friendships, settle […]

    Like

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