They held the James Madison High School 50th reunion last week in Brooklyn (yes, the same school that graduated Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, “Cousin Brucie” Morrow and Neil Sedaka), but I didn’t go. To explain, there were perhaps 200 who attended but as many as 1,800 who didn’t. Such is time, distance, wars, illness and apathy for diminishing the impact of events like this.
I didn’t go because I did not want to attend an event commemorating lives frozen in time. Think of it: After 50 years if I did remember an attendee it would have been as the 15- to 18-year-old they were back then. Fifty years can play cruel tricks on the mind and body. The guys would be mostly bald, overweight, grizzled or browbeaten. The gals — those lovely young things I lusted for — would be much less svelte, gray-haired, age-lined and crow’s-footed. Not the people I knew way back in 1963.
When you go to an event like this it’s like taking a time machine backward. It’s visiting the ghosts of high school past, and the future that did or did not happen. We do not live in a land of Archie comics or Disney World where no one ages.
Did I really want to know what happened to the guy who was a four-sport athlete? Did he become a shoe salesman, accountant or college professor in his post-high school life? I’m not that curious. And what of the gorgeous cheerleader who inspired me to wear a crew cut and penny loafers. Did I need to see her expanded derriere and have my youthful dreams crushed by reality?
No, I didn’t want to have to mentally peel away the years, the jowls and mascara to find 1963 Brooklyn, N.Y., and remember my own mostly undistinguished high school days. Many of us spend those years with a bad case of teenage angst living awkward lives between childhood and adulthood. Why be reminded of it?
I’m not the me of then, and they surely aren’t the they of then. So what’s the point, I wondered. Would I magically become the high school senior I never was in 1963? Would I walk into a room of strangers, rip my shirt open and reveal “Super Guy” and garner all the attention? Probably not.
But, this I will agree to. When they hold the 100th reunion in 2063 I will definitely be there. I want to be the last man standing as I wheel that cheerleader into the winner’s circle and we finally join in a gummy kiss.
Art Edelstein lives in East Calais.MORE IN Commentary
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