Shared from the 10/8/2018 Bakersfield Californian eEdition

Should I stay or should I go? School reunions can be taxing affairs

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My South High School 50th reunion website reads in part: “This is the event you have waited 50 years for and will not want to miss. We want to make this dining, dancing and entertainment event as meaningful and enjoyable for you as possible. The program is in the works and will feature brief presentations, short-winded speeches, heartfelt remembrances, hilarious prizes and awards, and numerous attempts at potential humor.”

This Saturday will be South High School’s 50th year reunion. How can this be possible? When my class graduated in 1968, I am certain, not one of us thought we would ever see this day arrive.

For some, attending your high school reunion can be a very taxing and emotional decision. I know it was for me.

Should I stay or should I go?

To help me with my decision as to whether I should attend, I have completed my own informal S.F. research and surveyed acquaintances and asked if they attended any of their high school reunions.

The most common reason for not going is they didn’t enjoy high school. They survived it. They have stayed in contact with any friends they really cared about, so why go to the reunion to experience the same cliques that excluded them in high school? They have moved on and have no need to go back.

I respect their opinion and can definitely relate.

The most common reason for attending was to reconnect in the flesh with old friends and to see how people turned out. The internet and social media have changed how we are able to reconnect with friends we had previously only wondered about. This validates what my children, grandchildren and younger nieces and nephews have pointed out to me for years. Facebook is for old people. Their point is now well taken.

South High School’s graduating class of 1968 had approximately 350 seniors. According to the website designer and manager, Jim Reynolds, there are 167 confirmed reservations for the reunion. That number includes graduates, their guest and 10 teachers. One of the teachers who is planning to attend is Mr. Gabbitas, who influenced my life in so many positive ways, as I am sure the other attending teachers have done for my fellow students. Jim, a fellow 1968 graduate, worked alongside 15 committee members who made this reunion happen. Thank you all for your dedication.

What are my reasons for attending? I want to see if my first girlfriend knew she was my girlfriend. Even though it’s been 50 years, I want to tell those people who helped me survive high school how much they meant to me and shaped who I am today. I will thank those who served in the military for their service during a very turbulent time in our history when their service was not always appreciated nor respected. And I will go because almost 70 of my fellow classmates are now sadly deceased and probably would wish they could attend.

I want old friends to be made new again. I will argue with Charlie Wibble Skiddie Wah Wah about how she got her nickname and how she gave me mine, Steverino Skiddi Boom Boom. I will remind Harold Cox how he accidentally almost blew up our science lab. And retell the thousandth version of how Jackie Corson wrecked into Principal Jensen’s car.

Like a carnival game, I will try and recognize our classmates without looking at the yearbook photos on their name tags.

I am anxious to see how the years have changed our opinions about each other. I will wait for the “organ recitals”: “I had open heart surgery last year,” “they took out my appendix twice,” “I had quadruple hip replacement,” etc. At our age, our new wealth is our health.

As some psychologists have written, many of us attend high school reunions not to see who they will remember, but whether they will be remembered.

And as one of my beautiful classmates wrote in my 1968 yearbook, “I will remember you. Please remember me.” I do remember. Besides, how could I ever forget a person named Charlie Wibble Skiddie Wah Wah?

I am definitely going. Be forewarned, I’m a hugger.

Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at floressteve32@yahoo.com. His work normally appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

The most common reason for not going is they didn’t enjoy high school. They survived it. They have stayed in contact with any friends they really cared about, so why go to the reunion to experience the same cliques that excluded them in high school? They have moved on and have no need to go back.

See this article in the e-Edition Here