Tonight’s my 50th High School Class Reunion. I’ve done well living a life of denial, so let the record state that, in my mind, it’s the 50th month reunion, not the 50th year. Sigh. Finally. This reunion, there’s no pressure of getting — what’s the word for which I’m searching?
I graduated from Hart High in 1968. The school colors were different. We were a stately maroon and grey. Granted. They were maroon and grey coyote pelts and all athletic cheers rhymed with the word, “Ug.” There were no classes on the campus then, only rock campfire circles where teachers bored us spitless on the proper spearing of cave sloths (sharp end in first) or why we should stay away from girls from Alemany as they were insistently promiscuous.
What does one say at one’s 50th?
“Do you really think you should be smoking while you’re wheeling around that metal oxygen tank?”
That’s a good ice breaker.
Or: “I love your new face lift. It kind of makes you look like a Teddy bear the way your ears meet at the top of your head like that.”
Or, my personal favorite: “Excuse me. Were we married? And, if so, where’s my alimony?”
For the seemingly clever, let the record state that in these wicked hepcat daddy times, I’d only use that line on women.
Of course, I’ll probably get my own comeuppance. “Hey! Boston! Heard you changed your name to Mohammad after that 400th marriage!”
Or: “What DOES a guy do with 47 cheese fondue makers?”
“Uh-huh and gnyuck,” I say.
I love those Mighty Indians, that class of ’68. It was a year of demarcation. The Vietnam draft. Valencia was a baby. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. Both beloved rock ’n’ roll and the wretched drug culture were entwined in a young cultural psyche that today so defines us. Add the accusing, tempting din of a non-stop media grown devilish. We began to stop thinking of houses as homes and more as temporary investments. Condos and apartments grew like weeds and turned into yuppie concentration camps. We sold our elbow room, our scenery, our breaths of fresh air. God, Himself, became a snide punchline.
Through it all, we still had each other.
Friendship. It’s such a beautiful hug.
I have relationships I sense go back lifetimes, memories of a first kiss, a first broken heart. That magic elixir of community. I remember sitting in the rickety, splinter-rich stands at a Hart football game on a cool autumn evening. I remember open fields with stars overhead, heartfelt teenage conversations on the meaning of life or what we’d be doing when we were old. Which was 35. I can laugh heartily now, recalling of a special girlfriend. We were on a date and she dropped a line out of the deep blue id: “God. I just have this sickening feeling: I’m going to end up married to you.” Sentimental sap, that one. Thank God her premonition was bogus. Like the ocean, she would have eroded me.
A half-century later, am I where I want to be?
Kind of yes.
Kind of no.
I’m Here. And Here is a wonderful and serene place. Still. There are questions. I’m more wildly successful than I could ever imagined. I’ve hiked a million miles. I’ve had great suntans from great adventures, suffered in silence far more than it was healthy to do so. My heart’s been broken by career, women, family and newspapers more times than I care to count. But, you keep going. You find there’s a magic to life. Hearts grow back. I’m filthy rich in friends. If I were down to my last sandwich — I’m hoping it’s pastrami on rye — I’d cut it in half to share with a pal. I’ve pals who’d share their last sandwich with me.
I’m not being sentimental here. I learned that at Hart. Mr. Adelini was my speech and debate teacher. He taught me how to think and evaluate and to him I owe a debt I can never repay. My 10th-grade biology teacher, Mr. Stanford, believed so powerfully that I could become myself. He had a vision larger than my own clownish and tortured view. Fran Wrage brought out my inner ferocity and will and cheerfully taught that I could not be broken. Pretty much, I don’t back down. I learned that at Hart. And kindness. And the virtue of Can-Do. And the importance of family.
I’m not yet who I want to be. But, a few failures, a few backward steps, I’m marching toward that compelling state of being.
Tonight’s our 50th anniversary.
How about those Mighty Indians? Those Mighty Indians from the best class to ever darken a high school doorstep, the Hart High Class of 1968? There’s Canyon. Saugus. I think SCV added a couple other pretenders to the throne. I suppose most American high school classes are delusional and flirt with a fantasy they’re the best.
Kiss my rural, dusty butt.
Those other guys? They aren’t Mighty Indians. They aren’t fit to carry our lunch buckets.
Go find some canal water and suck on it.
Earth’s most prolific (and humble) humorist, Boston has penned more than 11,000 blogs, columns, essays, books, features and stories. He’s been named both best serious and best humorous columnist in America, is the recipient of The Will Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award and did he mention he’s from Hart, couldn’t be prouder and if you can’t hear us, we’ll write a little louder?