Leif M. Wright
Author, Journalist, Musician, Programmer, Daddy
"You feel uncomfortable, wincing and crying as you read. The daring style is comparable to Chuck Palahniuk’s novels" — Amy O'Hara

Leif M. Wright's Blog

So, it turns out I'm old, and why in the world does anyone care about high school?

Filed under I am old, Rants
That's Gene Longcrier on the left. I'm on the right. We're playing "Sweet Child O' Mine." Yes, I know that's a Stratocaster and I should have been playing that on a Les Paul, but gimme a break. I'm old.
My 30th high school reunion was a week ago. My wife's 20th is this weekend. For you math geeks, yes, she's 10 years younger than me, and yes, I'm old. Really old.
I didn't want to go to my reunion, simply because I believe I have kept up with all the people from high school I gave a shit about (hint: it's not very many). But my friend, Heila Shultz convinced me my band had to play for the reunion's afterparty, so I got the guys together and said, "Let's learn a bunch of old 80s stuff (I graduated in 1987), and play for the reunion. 
We didn't really practice, except for one run-through two days before.
So we set up for the gig, and of course, I can't remember lyrics (that's not a function of being old, it's something I've always had), so I printed out a bunch of lyrics sheets. But the bar in which we were playing was dimly lit (a lot more dim than the picture above, taken with a flash, indicates). Turned out, I couldn't see the lyrics. Not a one of them. So while I was setting up my fancy rig (the Crate and Marshall amps you see there), I asked my wife to go get me the one thing every rock and roll singer needs: reading glasses.
That's right. Reading glasses. So I could see. The. Fucking. Lyrics.
The show went off pretty well, especially for four guys who hadn't really practiced, but I couldn't get over the fact that I had to have reading glasses to play a gig. What it means is, I'm old. 
That's Steven Gann, the quarterback from our state-championship football team. I'm not the only one getting old. Just saying.
I'm not the only one. When I went into the reunion, I was shocked. There were so many old people there, and faces I really did not recognize, that for a moment I remarked to my friend Roy Thornton that I thought I had stumbled onto the wrong class reunion.
I talked for 20 minutes to a person I truly had no memory of, but I just went along, speaking in generalities, until he introduced himself to my wife. Turned out, he was a guy I spent tons and tons of time hanging out with in high school. 
Most of these people—and this was oddly shocking to me—have children who are between 25 and 30 years old. For comparison, my oldest son is 5, starting kindergarten this year.
It may be that my wife is so young, though her oldest is 15, so maybe I just started late. I think it's instructive that we all had to wear name tags. Like, I know there were something upward of 500 people in my graduating class or something, but I honestly remembered maybe seven of the people at the reunion. 
That's a sign that, either I'm really aged and probably soon to die, or high school was stupid and I didn't pay attention. Or both.
Even Roy got old. But I will never disparage someone who says, during the show, "You can never have enough Kiss songs." Roy wins the reunion, in my book.
And where did all the time go? I often think I've lived enough for four or five lifetimes, but when I'm at a place where everyone looks so old, I realize maybe I've lived exactly the right amount of time to be where I am. But it really got me reflecting on the things society declares are important to us. 
I was trapped in the same prison as these people back in the late 1980s, and I guess that's supposed to imbue us with some kind of bond, some kind of Stockholm Syndrome that ties us together forever. But I didn't feel any kinship. It was more of, "Oh, yeah, I remember you." And then ... nothing. Oh, you've been embalming corpses for 25 years? How fascinating. Accounting? You don't say. I'm sure they're all completely engrossed with me working with words for so long. Oh, you fix split infinitives? How have you avoided the Nobel prize?
I have nothing in common with these people. Except that we're the same age and went through the same bullshit three decades ago. 
I don't think I'll go to the next one.