What I learned at my class reunion
The year I graduated from high school, the movie and song “Footloose” became a sensation. That means we were a crop of kids guided by the likes of Kenny Loggins, whose lyrics led us to believe “time was just holding us down.” Loggins and filmmakers insinuated there was a better way — we could lose our blues by kicking off our “Sunday shoes.”
Some of my classmates took that advice to heart, eventually kicking off any other Sunday-type convention that stood in their way as well. Young Kevin Bacon, with the spiky haircut and impressive dance moves, should be proud. It’s not every actor who can successfully lead a revolt against a socially repressive environment like he did.
(Well, I guess the cast from “Grease” gave it a good shot, too, but that was before my time.)
Which brings me to my most recent class reunion, more than three decades in the making. In case you’re wondering, 35 years is plenty of time for the Footloose influence to come home to roost.
I suppose it was a typical reunion, as far as such events go. Our class president rented a venue, and we wore tags with our name printed alongside our senior portraits. Dark lights in the dining area didn’t help much with the recognition process, though. I did, however, find that the eyes don’t change. You can recognize them when all other landmarks are gone.
And speaking of landmarks, facial features aren’t the only things that sag. By this age and stage of life there are other battle wounds. Diabetes had wrecked the body and occupational hopes of one classmate. Broken vows moved another from a pulpit to a public affairs post. We all needed glasses to read the menu, and it was hard to hear. (Could you say that again?)
Still, some of the class of ’84 were keen to show what they do still have. One guy even got the “Rogaine Award” for having the most hair. Then we played a 1984 trivia game.
US Open Tennis Championship winner? (John McEnroe)
Teacher who attempted to moon walk in the Faculty Gong Show? (Mrs. Waldrop)
Cost of a stamp? (20 cents)
After that, someone took the floor and suggested that next time, we needed to get some T-shirts made up. “Reunions need T-shirts,” he maintained.
Hearing that proposal, two guys at our table rolled their eyes and returned to doing whatever they were doing on their phones. I did later notice the same two succumbed to peer pressure when asked to contribute $15 dollars toward the next event.
But overall, the reunion was a lot like these lines from a poem written by Donna Presnell:
“As we shared a few memories and retold some class jokes,
We were 18 in spirit, though we looked like our folks.”
Funny, but true. Reunions can send you back in time for a while, but at some point, you must go home, gray hair and all. If you’re smart, you just might have gained a new perspective. That’s because . . .
1. You realize afresh that anything is possible, since the third grader who used to hit you with spitballs is now a prominent eye doctor in Houston. (And you make sure to mention it to your kids.)
2. You appreciate more than ever that your husband is the cleaving kind.
3. You see firsthand the fallout from Footloose philosophy, and you’re mighty thankful your parents weren’t OK with “everybody, cut loose.”
But you do stop and give credit where credit is due, because Kenny Loggins was right about one thing: Time is “just holding us down.” And guess what? It’s running out, faster than ever.
Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter at @kimhenderson319.