Twenty Years So Soon

The Northwest High School Class of 1987 Reunion.

It’s been twenty years since that four year rite of passage that we call the high school experience and I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to see them. I was the youngest graduate in our class due to me skipping a few grades which only gave me more incentive to keep my head down. So generally, I kept to myself. Sorta.

(L-R: Amy Majeske (Bird), me, Tina Hardymon, Jon Harp*)

I wasn’t the nerd, the jock, the cheerleader, or part of the fringe crowds. I found that if you were your own particular brand of weird and were comfortable with it, folks either left you alone or accepted you. Still, I had a mild curiosity to see what happened to the bullies of the day, the old cliques, the old “we will grow old together/a love like ours will never die” romances (most of whom apparently ended a few weeks after graduation).

Buoyed on waves of nostalgia, I chose to attend the reunion (and convinced my best friend* to go – man was not meant to suffer alone). Here’s what you need to know about our graduating class: we started the year at around 400 students but just under 200 actually made it to May. So it’s no wonder folks want to cheer at graduations. In the time since, far too many have been killed or incarcerated. There’s no point in complaining about how it was organized. I apply the same rule I use when folks come to me complaining about something I’ve put together: what did you do to help out? Since I pretty much sat back and watched it unfold, I’ve got no room to complain.

Though a strange and wondrous time, high school always did have its little quirks. For our first couple years, we were prone to race riots just prior to major breaks. In fact, I was worried that our reunion would break down like our lunchtime cafeteria typically did: split right down the middle along racial lines. Luckily, a lot has changed in twenty years.
(The Reunited Northwest High School Class of 1987)

If nothing else, we’ve managed to undo the unfortunate mistakes of 80s hairstyles, from the Flock of Seagulls look to the mullet/porn mustache combo to Jheri curls. (Luckily, there are no pictures floating around of me where I’d have to live down either a Kid ‘N Play or a DeBarge phase of hair.)

There was no great angst moment. No cathartic epiphany about my place in society or the universe. No mid-life crisis panic attacks. Just me connecting with folks whom I had lost touch with. However, allow me to tell you that there is not enough alcohol to get me on the dance floor 80s tunes. (Though at one point I was left wondering “why is my wife going down the Soul Train line?”).

Yeah, it was a bit of a ghetto reunion (and, yeah, I fixed a to go plate of food), but it was OUR ghetto reunion. In a lot of ways it reflected much of what our class was about: more than a little disorganized, loud, fun, and quick to just solve problems by getting on the dance floor.

Though, all told, I remember why I skipped my prom.

*Dear Jon: if you’re going to blog about your one-time crushes, maybe you ought to check and see if they’re going to your reunion. Cause the Internet is a big place and folks love to Google themselves.

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Pipe Down, IPS

I wanted to skip my graduation.

As a Northwest High School grad, I was fairly certain I would be in for a dull proceeding, feature a speaker I didn’t care about, and be a long list of names being read. Two things prompted me to go: 1) my parents who wanted to see their eldest receive his diploma and 2) me knowing my people were going to act a fool in the stands. And not just my people, but the folks of friends of mine were going to keep it from becoming too turgid an affair.

Now they are going to cut back on half of the fun.

Some parents are leery of edict that urges cheering as grads enter and exit but not as names are read. Hold your applause or you’ll be thrown off the property. That’s the message Superintendent Eugene White is sending to the families of Indianapolis Public School graduates who will attend this year’s commencement ceremonies.

This reminds me of the NFL cutting down on touchdown celebrations (and thus being dubbed the No Fun League). Boos I could understand. Total obnoxiousness I could understand. But this is a moment of pride for parents and some people need to celebrate loudly. There’s nothing indecorous about pride given voice. The ceremony isn’t a solemn occasion as much as a celebration of achievement, the excitement of clearing one of life’s rites of passage. Sorry if that breaks your precious sense of proper decorum.

Why don’t you tell us not to cheer or support your team at your next sporting event? If you fear that not each student will be able to hear their name, you’d think the person reading the names ought to have sense enough to go “hmm, they’re still cheering. Why don’t I wait another second or two before I read the next name.”

At every one of my kids’ graduation, I plan on embarrassing them. If it were my folks, they’d go ahead and cheer. It wouldn’t be the first time we were asked to leave a public place. Plus, they’d beat the crowd.

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Twenty Years Already

Well, I opened up my Inbox only to find this letter:

Fellow High School Classmates of 1987:

I’m sure that you have all heard the buzz of a 1987 Northwest High School reunion floating around. Suffice it to say, it is all true. Curtis Burhannon, Bridgette Dawson, Devon Stovall, Adrena Jones (Morris), Danielle (Tootie) Arnold, Tawnya Harrison and I have been planning this special event since October. We know that we didn’t have a ten year reunion, but we definitely want the twenty. Therefore, here are the plans:

The event is going to be August 10th – 12th of this year. That Friday we’re going to have a social at the skating rink (at Roller Cave Skating Rink 8734 E. 21st St. Indianapolis, IN 46219) from 8:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. where we can catch up on old times. Saturday evening we’ll have a formal (at the Julia Carson Building 300 E Fall creek Pkwy off of Fall creek and Delaware) with our spouses or significant others from 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. That Sunday afternoon we’re having a cookout at Eagle Creek Park (Eagle Creek Park shelter A 1p-6p) where we’ll bring all of our spouses, significant others and children. The fees for the entire event are as follows:

$35.00 for singles with no children
$40.00 for couples with no children
$45.00 for singles with children
$50.00 for couples with children

These fees cover everything except entry into the skating rink on Friday evening ($7.00) and the per car fee to enter Eagle Creek Park ($4.00).

Adrena Jones (Morris) is our treasurer. The committee has already paid their fees and we need others to jump on board as well. We are asking that you send in your fees as soon as possible so that we can begin to make purchases as well as other necessary deposits. Please make your checks out to NWHS 87 Reunion and forward it to the following address:

P.O.Box 26872
Indianapolis, IN 46226

What we also need from you is to get emails from everyone you know from our class as possible and forward it to me so that I can send this email information to everyone. If people don’t have email, just get their addresses. Whoever you know that graduated with us, send their information to me so that I can place them on our email contact list. That way they will always be informed about what is going on. You will all get an email from me about once per month regarding the updates from the committee about the reunion. [You may also e-mail me at northwest_highschool (at) yahoo.com].

Be on the lookout to volunteer for various committees that we’ll have in place. Right now Tawnya McCrary (Harrison) is over the Sunday cookout. She’ll need help. If you are interested, her email address is: trmassociates (at) yahoo.com. Bridgette Dawson is over the Saturday evening formal. If you’re interested in helping, her email address is: nadene35 (at) yahoo.com.

I look forward to hearing from and seeing you all. Don’t forget to tell folks!

Myron C. Duff, Jr. (Stynk)

I’m officially depressed. I was just hanging out with these knuckleheads yesterday. Well, it feels like yesterday. Well, it felt like yesterday, yesterday; today it feels like twenty years ago.

Over on my Intake Column, the issue of Hurricane Katrina and the issue of “convenient caring.

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