Falling into a tuba is no excuse for missing your high school reunion

image Welcome to the first-ever post of Post Traumatic Monday! Regular readers of this blog will notice this new, one-time feature is almost exactly like my Post Traumatic Sunday posts, except, in this case, it’s a day late. Other than that, they’re pretty much the same. However, I do have an excuse for yesterday’s missing assignment, which is… my dog ate my blog? Actually, I really do have a good excuse, which I will explain later this week. Before we get started, I should explain to those visiting for the first time that these weekly posts were written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. So what’s the point, you ask? Simply to offer reflections from someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way he knew how:

With humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who inspires me each day to laugh for the right reasons. It’s good to laugh with you now — for all the right reasons…

* * * * * * * *

When it comes to receiving unsolicited material in the mail, few things are more frightening than an invitation to your 20th high school reunion.

Except maybe a voodoo doll made from your own clothes and hair.

The difference, of course, is that high school reunions don’t come along every day. And while a voodoo doll is certainly unsettling, it’s not as unsettling as talking with someone who remembers what you looked like in really tight parachute pants. Not that I ever wore any. I’m just saying, in the 80s, a lot of people did. And there’s a chance someone who looked like me might’ve been wearing a pair when — after losing circulation in his legs and buttocks — he fell headfirst into the tuba section during a homecoming game.

The truth is, all of us had embarrassing moments in high school. That’s what made those years so memorable, and why now, when we gather to re-live those special times as adults, we do so within the general vicinity of an open bar. This is especially true if, like me, you made the mistake of looking back through your yearbook the night before the reunion — an experience that can prove more traumatic than high school itself.

After looking through it, I just kept reminding myself that times have changed. I’ve matured. Experienced life. Made my own way in the world. No one would ever recognize me as the geek I once was.

Especially since today’s geek is 25 pounds heavier.

And with less hair. Except for around my ears and nostrils, which, for some reason, have suddenly kicked into high gear, producing enough hair to qualify as my body’s primary cold-weather defense. If you don’t think God has a sense of humor, this has to at least make you wonder.

However, if you’re looking for undeniable proof of your high school geekness, look no further than your prom photos. If that doesn’t work, then look at mine. It’s amazing how perspectives change. At the time, I thought I looked like James Bond in my tuxedo when, in fact, I actually looked like an undernourished waiter caught in a bump-and-grind while trying to sneak bologna from the snack table. I’ve never been a good dancer (and by this I mean someone who is a danger to himself and others), and thanks to our high school yearbook staff, this frightening display has been documented as far back as 1984.

Not that you have to tell my wife this.

She was there; a vision in pink ruffles, trying to escape the flailing arms of her tuxedoed attacker and future husband.

It was the night I told her, without a doubt, I wanted to marry her some day. It was also the night she told me, without a doubt, she didn’t want me dancing at the reception. Though it wasn’t an outright proposal, we both knew something magical had happened. Again, it’s just another example of how perspective changes with time. Recently, we found ourselves dancing together at her sister’s wedding — she in her ruffled Matron of Honor dress, me flailing around in my tux. When I told her, without a doubt, I was glad we married, she agreed. Then added if I didn’t stop dancing like that, we’d be getting a divorce after the cake was cut.

They say the past makes us who we are today. Because of this, I plan to attend my reunion tonight.

According to my therapist, it could go a long way in helping me overcome my phobia of tuba players in parachute pants.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

54 thoughts on “Falling into a tuba is no excuse for missing your high school reunion”

  1. Did you hear that?? It was a sigh dipped in serendipity.
    I loved this post–not only because it was typical Ned Style Funny, but because it captured the other side of what I tried to piece together on my own site this morning on the subject of hometowns and playground equipment. While it worked okay, it wasn’t funny and it sidestepped more piles than a cowboy with size 14 feet.
    I’m so happy to read your humorous, but always poignant perspective. It was perfect.
    Thank you!

    1. I just finished reading your post and absolutely loved it, Michelle. There’s no need to be funny when you can capture something so very special 😉

      1. You are too kind. I read this again…thinking that we need to hear how that 20th went. Hmmm….on second thought, don’t you have a 30 right around the corner? Perhaps the tuba and parachute pants will work after all!

  2. ❤ this. My All-School reunion is happening this summer (it was a minuscule place) and my two sisters and I have agreed there's no way in hell we're going. We've been out of high school since before you were born. End of story.

    1. Thanks, Judy 😉
      My actual 30th reunion is this August on my birthday, which is a frightening proposition. I figure this is the last reunion I’ll attend where they group is large enough to require reservations somewhere for dinner. After this, they’ll just start reserving a 10-top at Denny’s and see who’s still alive!

      1. This would be my 49th, which doesn’t even make sense. Fortunately, we just moved five hours away and I’m in a witness protection program — don’t breathe a word. My graduating class consisted of 14 people. That isn’t a typo. A 10-top at Denny’s would represent insane optimism at this point.

            1. Ha! You can see why I’m a “words” and not “numbers” guy; I counted on my fingers for 15 minutes and still ended up more than a decade off.

              And I’m not even sitting on a bar stool…

        1. I was going to suggest we go to each other’s reunions, and really freak people out, but I think I’m the only one who would benefit from that situation.

  3. Such a symbiotic relationship. Today is clearly an 80s Monday. Who can blame you for falling for her in pink ruffles? And who can blame her for falling for whatever it was that you brought to the relationship? Fortunately, you have moved on to greener grass, but you will always have Prom, wretched Prom. And perhaps a slow Journey song together.

        1. Actually, I suppose it’s not what every woman wants in a man. But it doesn’t matter since I was fortunate enough to find a woman standing on greener grasses who found it irresistible enough to marry me 😉

          1. You lucked out. According to eharmony, women want solvency, hygiene, maturity, manliness, and a partner. Ask her if it was partly hygiene.

  4. My ten year reunion was this summer. I skipped it because I’m still traumatized by the idea that people remember how I looked (and acted!) in high school @_@

  5. Manicure, Ned, the attraction was (is) all about your manicure. So lovely. Ha! Which reminds me, your trademark thumb was missing in the last Skippy post – shame! Do you know how many of of your followers so look forward to that thumb? Sheesh, c’mon Ned. Ha!

    I avoid reunions and even avoided my graduation – they sent me my diploma in the mail. I did go to one graduation (later in life) because my Mum was flying on from Vancouver for the event and I felt forced to go. Dear God, it was terrible – so much comparing and such egos – they don’t get any better as life goes on, believe me.

    I had a girl friend many years ago who liked to drag me to public things – she worked in tele productions and always had affairs to attend . The glitterati loves to preen – it justifies their existence, after all if no one gets to appreciate your beauty, then you are nothing. See and be seen. Anyway she decided that I needed lessons in how to eat hor d’erves (sp?) without getting any on me – for I do so love to eat and always end up wearing some. She proceeded to give me eating classes and I was an abysmal failure. She’d give me tests like : if you have to choose between deserts that are creme pastries, pie or cake, which would you choose. Not realizing there was a right answer, I enthusiatically (assuming this was about making up my mind) stated that I would eat creme pastries – for I love, love, love them. “Wrong!” -would be her answer – “You could never eat a whole creme pastry without getting some on yourself.” My reply : “Yes, but it is only white creme and it wipes off easily and I can even eat what I wipe off. So I’m not wasting any.” That apparently was also a wrong answer. It was hopeless, so I developed a phobia of eating at fancy do’s and refused to go to any more.

    1. Maybe it was a west coast thing, but I had parachute pants (nylon with pockets, zippers, etc.) that we almost like skinny jeans. I hope you can appreciate how hard it was for me to admit that…

          1. Tucson, Arizona. Jr. High School. Wearing concert shirts, acid washed jeans and ankle boots but wanting moccasins. Sporting a wicked moussed-up mullet. 😀

  6. I am a firm believer in avoiding high school reunions. I was at my high school for all of one year. The Worst Year of My Life. My not going was a win-win for everyone. I proved that I was better then them, and in their minds I proved they were better than me.

    And I didn’t miss the hockey game that night.

  7. I dodged my 20th a couple of years ago. I didn’t think anyone would recognize me without permed hair that needed clearance for doorways 🙂

    1. You should show up at mine in August (30th *choke*) and be the mystery woman. Make a fake name tag and see how many people pretend to “remember” you 😉

  8. Thank you for another instant classic, Ned.
    yes, today you get “Ned”, instead of “Putz”. The way I figure it, you’ve suffered enough.

  9. Hilarious! As always. I had to stop and think a moment about what I was doing when my 20th reunion went down. For some reason, my high school always has the reunions on the weekend following Thanksgiving. Not a convenient time to fly across country, so I haven’t been to one since the 10th. In fact, when our 20th happened, I was making the 2 hour drive to Seattle and back every day to visit my newborn premature son, who had to be flown to a NICU that could handle his needs. We had our 30th last year and I didn’t make that one either. I hope you enjoy your 30th- and I also hope they have an open bar!

    1. I would say having a child in the NICU is a very good excuse for missing a reunion — or just about anything, really. Come to think of it, an open bar wouldn’t be a bad idea there, either 😉

      As far as my 30th reunion goes, I’m certain there won’t be a shortage of liquor in this group.

No one is watching, I swear...

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