Sunday, October 26, 2008

1969 - 40th Reunion


I hope this finds you well. Someone raised my hand to foster attendance at our 40th Reunion. And yes, the rationale is a mystery. I am committed nonetheless. Some of you may well have already decided to attend, and others will be there if other life commitments permit. This missive is intended for those with little interest yet in attending the reunion, and especially those who aren’t interested because they know for sure what Deerfield reunions are like. Even though they haven’t been to one. There is perspective for me to share.

By assembling a group of ten New York region 1969 alums for a dinner three years ago, we proved to ourselves, to our astonishment, that the bonding threads of long ago can oddly survive. Even with what may have been just a half-step above acquaintanceship then, there was some epoxy in the attachments, that continues. An almost immediate observation at the restaurant: “It looks like we will not eat, we will dine.”

Each time I’ve attended a reunion, I have found it well worth the trip, the time, and expense. It’s been fun and valuable seeing old friends – the several whom I’ve kept up with as well as the larger group where I’ve lost track over the years. The highest appreciation has been the opportunity to spend time with classmates whom I didn’t know particularly well, and to talk about life things: families, work, books, movies, travel, baseball, teens, music. As a group, our classmates are interesting, approachable and fun to be around. We generally don’t take ourselves too seriously. I even got a chance to be contrite and apologize to a friend in 1999 for something important, but small and ancient.

Some invariably remark that suffering was part of the experience. So be it. But just as we teach as parents, there is always a valid reference point in both good and bad examples, and we learn, and we value that. Where we once scoffed, we now have hoped to engrain some of the same values and attitudes in our children. Like being on time. Or competing proudly. Nobody exhibits zero benefit today. Nobody. I glance back at those days sometimes as four years of vitriol and vituperation intertwined with great education and memorable people, followed by years of increasing respect, and even warmth. Sort of the opposite of marriage, I would say. Some of you quite frankly intimidated me when we were in school. I find it’s a lot more facile to talk now than it was, say, to find words at Bryce’s or Sully’s table, or any other.

For me, Deerfield reunions have borne virtually no resemblance to college reunions as represented in popular culture. Even if someone wanted to, it’s logistically impossible to drive up in an impressive car, because the world has more than it used to, and few care. Mine has 172k miles on it right now, it will be more when I arrive next year. If it would fit, my vanity plate would read “TWO CUTE GIRLS IN COLLEGE AT THE SAME TIME.” If only that were about my social life, then or now. There’s little opportunity for anyone to talk about net worth. Few care either. There’s certainly a good bit of “Hey, remember the time we ……?”

Deerfield is not just one of the most beautiful schools on earth, it is still one of the most beautiful places on earth. In that, it is like Augusta National is to golf courses. Your wives are gonna love you, all the more. Try to forget any preconceived notions, and please think seriously about giving this one a try. Don’t be concerned about being unable to remember names. We’ve reached the point where that kind of recall may be a feat, and its absence no weakness. Being worthy of our heritage, there will of course be nametags. With large print. You may be checked-in. Just no “three meals as second-waiter” if you are late.

Since you may not get your 2009 Hooters calendars until Christmas, you will need to mark the weekend of June 12-14, 2009 in your cell phones (like I did with the assistance of a rented high school geek). Black Sharpie on the back of your hand will likely not last long enough. I confess freely I have a unique, and marginally self-centered mind set about this one: I will be marking (celebrate is not quite the right word) 43 years as a diabetic on June 12, 2009. I truly did not expect to be here. Maybe some of you are as lucky as I am. And so, there are fewer reunions left than there have been so far. It’s worthwhile. Let’s go. I look forward to seeing you.

Kind regards to all,

John Lacey