If you’ve been paying attention at all around here lately, you know that last night was my high school reunion. Class of Nineteen Numbery-Something. I went to an amazing high school. Attending there was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. And you guys know that decisions & I? Well, we just don’t get along at all.
My old alma mater ranks consistently as one of the Top Public High Schools in the Nation by U.S. News and World Report. Honestly, I wouldn’t think our state would even be acknowledged in a list of this kind.
But anyway, last night was great. I went with an old friend who lives nearby who, as it turned out, was also dateless for the evening. (Eat your hearts out, Alec Baldwin, Andrew McCarthy, Steve Martin, Jim Gaffigan, John Stamos, Jimmy Fallon, Howard Stern, Neil Patrick Harris, Zach Braff AND Ellen DeGeneres. You were ALL invited … and YOU chose not to come with me. But it was YOUR loss ’cause we all got t-shirts and koozies. Plus, the fish was killer.)
The event itself was only three hours. And yet I somehow managed to make my evening nearly ten hours long. My feet have never hurt as much as they did when I got home last night. Can I really say night though? In homage to my carefree high school days, I drove through McDonald’s on the way home for a little late-night snack. Imagine my surprise when … as I tried to order a chicken sandwich … the voice over the loudspeaker said, “Ma’am, we’re only serving breakfast right now.” I think I paused only about three seconds. “Okay, fine. Hash brown, egg & cheese biscuit, Diet Coke …”
I want to thank most sincerely the fellow classmate who planned the whole evening, more or less singlehandedly. You know who you are and I won’t embarrass you by listing your name in a blog with the word ‘tits’ in it without your permission. You and your hardworking minions threw a helluva party. Thanks for all of your efforts.
Here’s my only suggestion to improve upon our next reunion. The spouses need to have different nametags than the graduates. Please! I walked up to at least three people last night, greeted them with a big smile and blathered on about how good it was to see them again. I guess the blank stare and the “Um, dude. I don’t know you. I’m married to so-and so” should have stopped me the first time. Will I ever learn? Sigh. So, let’s help the stupid people like me next time, okay?
Oh, and I also want to thank my uterus for cooperating with my whole all-white ensemble thing I went with for the evening. I lucked out. Plus, there were no buckets of pig blood anywhere at our event so I was good to go with the white. I guess that’s only cool to do at your prom. In the 70s. On the big screen. Whatever.
Before I go, I want to send my gratitude, a love letter really, to the institution where it all started a few (cough, sputter) years back in New Orleans.
Dear Ben Franklin High School,
It’s been a lot of years now since I checked you off as my first choice on that all-important high school preference form in eighth grade. I was attending a (very) Catholic grade school at the time and all but one other student from my class (it was great seeing you last night, C) was continuing on with a Catholic high school experience. I had no idea of the big changes that lay ahead for me. My own mother was my eighth grade teacher, for Pete’s sake.
I can remember entering the school that first day, a very old and very dilapidated structure in a prime New Orleans location near the corner of Carrollton and St. Charles. The building was more than a hundred years old and had once served as a city courthouse. There was NO AIR CONDITIONING. That was quite an adjustment. And, for the first time in nine years, I did not have a uniform on. I had a little money in my pocket of my hopefully at least somewhat stylish attire for lunch time, when we all got to leave campus on foot to eat at Burger King, Eat’s, Flame ‘N’ Burger or one of the many other fattening-but-who-cares-because-I-was-only-fourteen options around the school.
And then there were the students. Kids with all kinds of chains … and piercings … and frightening, twelve-inch, hot glue mohawks threatening to impale me as I walked through the halls. The school even had its own smoking section. (Yes, I AM serious.) To this day, I still cannot smell the scent of a clove cigarette without thinking about high school. Not that that particular odor permeates my day-to-day life anymore.
The chasm between the sheltered existence of my grade school and the freedom and colorful experience that was Franklin was enormous. And it was a lot for me to absorb initially. I can remember my mother suggesting that we “just try it for a month” and, if I still didn’t like it, we could try somewhere else. A pretty generous offer that I’m not sure I’ll be making to my kids. She knew I just needed to push myself a little. Still, she left the safety net in place. Just in case. Thank you, Mom, for that.
As you can imagine, when the month passed, I was all in. I’d already made many new friends who would go on to become my college roommates, wedding party, lifetime confidants and really just some of the finest men and women I know today. I still can’t believe I even managed to get into let alone stay in a school of this caliber.
I love it. I miss it. And I credit it immensely for shaping me to be the person I am today. I’m pretty sure that, without it, I wouldn’t be the same sometimes-unusual, often-unfiltered, enigmatically-extroverted person writing a blog about her own boobs, the Alec Baldwin stalking incident and even the occasional bout of depression. Thanks for everything you’ve given me, especially the fond memories I am still making with the great group of people with whom I just spent my entire evening.
I’m already excited about the next one, y’all,
One more thing … I’m including one of my favorite pictures from last night. It’s of me and my old friend, our Junior Class President. He’s now a Rabbi. Oh, and he’s 6’5” so, naturally, I was standing on a chair. (Yes, I have his permission to post it. He is hands down the coolest Rabbi I know.)