by Gary North
by Gary North
Recently by Gary North: The National Parks: The Super-Rich's Greatest Idea
Well, it's finally here. The anniversary of anniversaries for the typical American.
This is the Big One. I have finally figured out why.
Jean Shepherd had it pegged a generation ago in Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories. The high school graduation prom is America's coming of age ritual. So, the 50th high school reunion is America's running out of time ritual.
Then comes the Final Exam.
The last Mira Costa High School reunion I attended was 25 years ago. I was wearing a 25th reunion sticker in the lobby of the hotel. Some young thing (now in her late 40s) asked me: "What is it like to attend a 25th reunion?" In a flash of insight, I knew the answer. I told her: "It's an exercise in comparative rot." The 50th will be more so.
This year is probably our last chance to see everyone on a drool-free basis.
I will have to recognize people based on this: what they looked like in the 1959 annual.
How did they persuade all of the boys to wear a white dinner jacket in the senior photo? Did anyone ever wear one again? If so, why? See for yourself.
Who will show up? Who won't? Will Fred, who won all the regional academic awards and went off to Harvard? Will Harry, the genius science guy, who we expected would invent some device that none of us would understand? Instead, he started a company that made him rich. We didn't expect that. Will Cliff, who went to Hollywood? He was even in a Star Trek TV episode in Shatner's era. We were in the senior play together. I had a bigger part. Maybe I could have been a star! Oh, well. I'll look for someone who looks like this:
Graham is flying from England, Jacques from Switzerland, and Maria from Portugal. I'll find out how Europe's economy is doing.
We will sing the old songs, or at least hum along to any tunes we can still remember.
We will say, "Sure, I remember you," and then pray the person does not respond with this: "Name one thing that I did."
How gray are the women? How fat are the men?
Did any of them buy rental property? In 1959, a house there cost about $25,000.
I get to be master of ceremonies. I'll keep it short. No funny stories. But I will mention this.
I do not remember my dreams. Within one minute of waking up, my dream is gone. But there is one dream I have had repeatedly. I am walking into a high school final exam — high school, not college. I did not study for it. I am scared stiff.
I always studied for my final exams. Why do I dream this?
I will ask them if they have ever had this dream.
Of all the inconsequential events in life, why do we dream of this? Of all the disasters in life, why is this implanted in our brains?
Because Jean Shepherd was right. High school is preparation for the rite of passage. The government makes sure we get the message. "Study for that final! You are being monitored! No cheating! Pick up your pencil. Put down your pencil. Time's up! Did you hear me? Time's up!"
It just about is.
October 3, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Gary North