Monday, June 11, 2012

Is Life Just High School All Over Again?


There is a widespread idea that life is just high school all over again.

There is even a song called “High School Never Ends” that purports to discuss this. I have not listened to the song, because it is a “pop” song and there have been virtually no “pop” song I have been able to stomach since about 1988.  (Thank God for Christian and Country music).

I think there is a point to that thought. Life seems to be more effected by who you know, even more so than what you know. But, I also think the fakeness and shallowness of high school does fade away a good bit. After all, most people over 40 have buried someone they loved, many have had a divorce, bankruptcy or a child with some disease. Infertility or cancer just seems to water down the “ohh and ahh” factor over the new car, lake house, fake tans and other juvenile pretenses.

This thought about life being like high school has been thrust upon me since receiving the invitation to my 25th high school reunion. It is not hard to find adults who appear to be in cliques that remind many of the high school “jocks” or the “cheerleaders” and so on.   Oddly, some of the “cool” folks now were not so popular back then. Some high school beauties will not be aging well. Some former jocks will now be on endless yo-yo diets trying to get back that athletic build.  Shy kids may be more outgoing.  Nerds might now be like gazillionares like Bill Gates. Who knows?

Brad Paisley is a country singer with a knack for great lyrics. In one hit song, he thinks about what he would tell himself, if he could write a letter to himself back at 17. In the aptly-titled song, “Letter to Me” he contemplates:
If I could write a letter to me
And send it back in time to myself at 17…
At the stop sign at Tomlinson and Eighth
Always stop completely don't just tap your brakes
And when you get a date with Bridgett make sure the tank is full
On second thought forget it that one turns out kinda cool
Each and every time you have a fight
Just assume you're wrong and daddy is right
And you should really thank Mrs. Bringman
She spend so much extra time
It's like she sees the diamond underneath
And she's polishing you 'til you shine
And oh you got so much going for you going right
But I know at 17 it's hard to see past Friday night
Tonight's the bonfire rally
But you're staying home instead because if you fail Algebra
Mom and dad will kill you dead
Trust me you'll squeak by and get a C
And you're still around to write this letter to me
You've got so much up ahead
You'll make new friends
You should see your kids and wife
And I'd end up saying have no fear
These are nowhere near the best years of your life
I guess I'll see you in the mirror
When you're a grown man
P.S. "go hug Aunt Rita every chance you can"
I wish you'd study Spanish
I wish you'd take a typing class
I wish you wouldn't worry, let it be
I'd say have a little faith and you'll see

This rings true to me. And I have attended a few reunions. (Some say they are only for the thin and the rich, but I went anyway). As for me, I find it rather embarrassing how few folks I actually remember.  The extremes do stand out—the ones that were particularly nice or exceptionally jerks. Everyone in the middle, I remember well, not so much. It reminds me of the old saying, “People forget what you say, but they never forget how you made them feel.”

Facebook has had an interesting effect on the reunions. On one hand, it is much easier to find and invite people than before. On the other hand, you can connect easily with those you wish to through that venue. It is not necessary to go eat rubber chicken to do so.  I keep up with many of my closer friends from high school.

But, for me, there is more to returning to El Dorado High School in Southern Arkansas. I was raised there, and it is special for me to take the kids around and bore them with stories of my childhood.  It will make me really miss my Dad, to see the house he lived in till he passed away too young.

But the highlight of the trip will no doubt be—Spudnuts.  Yes, Spudnuts. They are donuts made with potatoes. They literally melt in your mouth.  I know of no other place close by where they are made.  And my kids will not forgive me if we don’t use this excuse to go and experience that sweet delicacy.  I am investing my life in my children, not impressing folks I only vaguely recall.