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In a class all our own

Published: Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 10:31 a.m. CDT

Under the duress of guilt levied by my heterosexual life partner and best friend, Dave, I reluctantly attended our 15-year class reunion. Dave has been my right hand man since the tender age of 5 and in that time has agreed to go along with numerous harebrained hijinks, nonsensical schemes and (alleged) criminal enterprises that I have came up with.

I figured I owed Dave one. In actuality I probably owe him somewhere between several hundred to several thousand, but who’s counting?

Our longtime friend, Brad, joined us as we made our pilgrimage down old nostalgia lane. Brad is a doctor, just not the kind that can save a person having a heart attack. Nevertheless, when entering into the unknown realm of Planet Class Reunion, it is of the utmost importance to arrive with a man who can legitimately place the letters D and R in front of his name.

So, like a bad joke, a doctor, a farmer and a writer walkrf into their class reunion. There is no punch line.

Now I attended my five-year reunion and it seemed exactly like high school. Based on that failed social experiment, I decided to neglect my 10-year class reunion because the more things change, the more things stay the same.

In a revelation that will shock nobody in particular, I am a socially awkward individual. In public I try my hardest to avoid running into people I went to school with. That’s the ironic part. I bought tickets to a sentimental reunion geared specifically toward being around people I normally hide from when out shopping.

As soon as we walked into the reunion a rogue’s gallery of faces greeted us from our past. There were faces I recognized immediately and faces I didn’t recognize at all (but pretended to recognize anyway). They all wanted to rectify our long absence from one another by doing one thing and one thing alone: hugging me.

It was surreal because you think a simple handshake, maybe a brief “How ‘ya doing?” would suffice, but that wasn’t the case at all. Imagine walking into a room filled with people you haven’t been around in 15 years and then they all try making you the recipient of a gang-styled hug.

I’m such a socially-backward butterfly. I was at a loss for words. I’m not normally being hugged by the guy who, unprovoked mind you, bit my ear in gym class for no reason whatsoever.

My mind fluttered with trying to find the right thing to say as an introduction after all of these years. Surely I would not have a problem with finding just the right words.

What do I find myself saying to everyone that hugs me, “It’s nice to meet you.” It’s nice to meet you? It’s nice to meet you! That’s not something I should be saying to human beings I spent 13 years around, is it?

Thankfully my nerves calmed down a bit once I began taking liberal advantage of the venue’s free draft beer policy and the all-you-can-eat green beans over at the buffet line.

But there is something about a class reunion that really has a way of putting your own mortality in check. It’s hard to ignore the passage of 15 years when it’s staring you in the face — even if you can’t place a name to said face.

The magic of aging is the cruelest of beasts. Guts get larger while hairlines recede. The fickle politics of high school, unbridled egos, good looks and popularity fade even quicker.

If my memory serves me right I had a good time at the reunion. I still look like a teenager. I have not gained a single pound since graduation. I’m gainfully employed. I have a hot wife. And I haven’t done hard prison time.

If you ask me, that’s not too shabby for a formerly long-haired punk and solid C student.

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