01 August 2007

Minnesota Part II: The Reunion


High School was not a fun time for me. Not because I didn’t like school, I love to learn and I love to be social. But the constant threat of ridicule kept me from having much fun while I slogged my way through Elk River Senior High. Being gay in high school in semi-suburban Minnesota in 1987 made me a bit of a target for some of my less enlightened classmates.

So why, you may ask, did I go to my 20-year high school reunion this past Saturday? Well, I have never seen myself as a victim—not even back in high school—so those experiences have not haunted me in the intervening years. What residual anger I may have felt has been blunted by time and distance. Plus curiosity and the chance to see friends that I don’t get to see often made it too tempting to pass up.

Not surprisingly it turned out to be a mixed bag. Spending time with my old friends was the best part. We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot. Plus hanging out with a bunch of people my age made me less obsessive about time’s inevitable march to my 40th birthday. It was also fun seeing people who I hadn’t spoken to (or even thought about) in 20 years. It wasn’t like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (also Class of 1987). There were no big surprises and no big show downs. Most of my former classmates were friendly and happy.

I was amazed by a few people who just couldn’t let go of the past. Even after 20 years they still couldn’t quite bring themselves to be friendly to anyone who wasn’t part of their clique. For the most part I managed to deal with their attitude by pandering to their over inflated sense of self-importance. I took a perverse pleasure in praising them just to see them struggle to be nice to me.

Equally amazing was how much the guys had let themselves go and how overweight most of the men have become. I wanted to take the microphone away from the emcee and give a lecture on heart health since many of them looked like they weren’t going to be alive for the next reunion. A few of the women had put on some pounds, but nothing like the men and they looked like they were at least taking care of themselves. It seems like the men of my class want to prove the statistics about obesity in America.

Perhaps the nadir of the evening was when Mr. Blehyl, one of our former teachers, was introduced as the special guest and invited to say a few words. Not only was he a homophobic bully of a teacher back in 1987, but in his remarks at the reunion he recognized many of the students with minds as small as his own. Just like high school, he favored those students who just happen to be the homophobic bullies who had made my daily life in school hell. I guess some things will never change.

Overall I had a good time. I am definitely going to keep in better touch with my friends, but I am not sure that I have much interest in checking out the next reunion. Then again curiosity might get the better of me. Ask me in ten years.

Coming soon Minnesota Part III: Minneapolis in a Day. The image above is Moonlight by Edvard Munch (1895)…more on that in the next installment.

3 comments:

  1. So what exactly did this idiot Blehyl say?

    Nice dog photos.

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  2. Well the remarks he made at the reunion were just run of the mill straight guy joking around. Nothing homophobic or offensive, just lame. Imagine George Bush in full frat boy mode like he was with Prime Minister Brown last week. You get the picture.

    Back in high school he loved making gay jokes to the delight of the jackasses in the class.

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  3. Hey Thomas - Thanks for the note on my blog.

    I get a notice every few years for my HS reunion back in Michigan. I've really felt no compelling reason to go. I moved out west right after high school and have built and maintained a wonderful group of friends, social contacts, and most importantly my BF of six years.

    But I'm still CURIOUS! I think I'd want to attend yet watch from a balcony somewhere. Still being a conservative area I'd wonder (should sig. others attend) if people would be as accepting if I showed up with my partner as they are when he attends normal work functions with my straight co-workers.

    And furthermore for the same reasons you've mentioned: Nothing really has happened. People get married to each other, have babies, get fat, get thin, change jobs... Not that my life is a whirlwind of excitement and thrills, but I'm simply content with who I know and what I have.

    Last February when departing Grand Rapids after a visit to my family the regional jet banked steeply and arced around downtown I watched the modest skyscrapers become smaller and smaller in the haze before we were swallowed up in the clouds over Lake Michigan. It’s interesting to see a place in which you spent the first 18 years of your life reduced from the air to a tiny geographic parcel.

    That's all I know it as now, but who knows - maybe a visit with high school chums would change that!

    Take care - glad you made it back safe...

    james...

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