Monday, November 27, 2006

To The Underwhelming Class of 1996

While riding my exercise bike this morning and listening to Phil Vassar’s Carleen on my headphones, I got to thinking about high school.

The Carleen song always makes me wish for the day where I could show up at some type of school reunion in front of my old classmates as a slender, successful woman. (Not that I am either at this point – I’m imagining I am in my head during the song, though)

I would say, “See! See, I told you I would amount to something.”

It was with that imaginary action I realized I have been out of high school for ten years. Ten years! When did I get to be so old, huh?

The thing is that my graduating class wasn’t bad…or good. We were just 9 completely apathetic people trying to get through school. None of us were particularly close, and in a class of only 9 people that is a little unusual.

We didn’t dislike each other, but we didn’t really like each other, either. Our Senior trip was a practice in avoidance. Literally. We all wanted to go to Washington D.C., just not with each other.

Oh well, we can’t all be the cast of Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson’s Creek, or The Breakfast Club – and goodness knows, we were never that interesting to begin with.

So, as 2006 draws to a close, I’d like to write a few words about my graduating class – The Class of 1996.

Amy E.
You were the girl who had “the girls” before the rest of us. You learned to deal with lecherous guys the hard way and were forced to grow up a lot faster than the rest of us.

You taught us all about training bras, lady-like leg crossing, and emergency hair care products. You were the only one of us girls to ever have a “real” boyfriend, then another, and then another! You were the first girl to get married, even though (as I recall) I did try to talk you out of it, feminist that I was then.

You were always nice to me, and I enjoyed many sleepovers and secrets shared, before we drifted apart.

Amy T.
I will always admire you for having the guts to stand up in a locker room full of gossiping, snickering seventh grade girls and tell us what we were doing and saying was wrong. You stood for truth and against character assassination at a time when it cost you your reputation. It was a heavy burden on your slim shoulders.

You made a full recovery later, when we all began to realize your inner stand –up comic. You and you alone, made my Senior trip worthwhile.

You were a sweet boy - a few eggs short of a dozen, but a heart that seemed to be genuinely warm and caring. I know I baffled you. You would always explain the legalistic blather you had been indoctrinated with to me. And, when I argued with you, you’d give me that sweet, sympathetic look that told me you felt sorry for me, since I obviously just couldn’t hold your words in my tiny little female brain.

Your willingness to be molded into a godly servant led you into the clutches of he-who-shall-not-be-named, but you seem to have come out of it all right – with a wife who is kind and gentle and (how shall I say?) fits you perfectly.

Unlike the majority of boys in my high school experience, you were never mean to me. At least not to my face, and I thank you for that.

It will always baffle me that you (bottom of our class scholastically) and me (top) were the only two to obtain a college degree. Go figure.

My relationship with you had two sides. You were the jovial guy who dated my best friend, and you were also the guy who swore at me, humiliated me, and used me as your shield against Josh in middle school.

You hurt me deeply.

But, I know what you’ve been though – marriage, divorce, and addiction - so I guess you’ve paid for your mistakes in heart wrenching ways, so I’ve let go of the dark past we share and wish you a full recovery and a hopefully happy life.

Oh, Eileen! What can I say about you? You made me laugh. Harder than I ever knew I could. Your focus on the here and now and looking your best always made for funny conversation. I will never forget your explanation of “the first time” to all of us girls during the Senior trip. We were never so glad to have a former public school girl in our midst.

Ah, Jerry – I barely knew ye. I guess all I can say is that I sure hope you found the right girl. Goodness knows, you dated enough of the wrong ones.

You were so laid-back, sometimes we weren’t even sure you were conscious. You were the epitome of cool. You didn’t need us, and you knew it. You had a car full of public school friends who thought your life at a private school was hilarious. You were never mean, though I think it was mainly because you never cared about any of us one way or the other.

You were the silent type. I think you said six sentences to me our whole Senior year. Most of it in mumbles. I think there was a lot going on behind that stoical face, but I guess I’ll never know.

Mr. H.
Poor man - stuck with a class of people who defined the antithesis of school spirit and spirituality. Not a Jeremy K. in the whole bunch of us.

I know we didn’t make you proud. You wore our stigma – the underperformers – with a sarcastic wit (although you didn’t know) that we always thought was funny.

You loved your home room before us. They were better, brighter, and bolder. We weren’t even second best in your book. But you put up with us, drove to D.C. with us, and tried to be helpful when we asked for help.

Still, your deadpan humor was hilarious at times, especially when you told us that, if we didn’t start raising money for our Senior trip, the only place we’d be going was Beloit.

Every time I watch The Office, I think of you – trying to manage a group of misfits.

So, there we are – The Class of 1996.

May we all go on and do better things than we did then. Not that we set the bar all that high, anyway.

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