Two decades of ... maturation?
I’m beginning to realize that my life’s hourglass is getting a little bottom-heavy with sand.
The reality came crashing down on me recently as I’ve been enjoying talking with a few people from my past as my old high school classmates are organizing our 20th reunion this summer. Oh, it’s been a blast catching up with some of my old friends and reminiscing on some of our youthful trangressions, but it’s also been a sobering slap in the face to realize that it’s been 20 years since I graduated high school.
Twenty years? Is that even possible?
Has it really been 20 years since I fell short in drinking my body weight in beer one night my senior year? Two decades since I got rebuffed one last time by that little blonde girl I had such a big crush on my entire adolescence? It’s been 240 months since I made a teacher cry while she wondered how someone so young could have such a smart mouth?
Oh, where does time go?
I started mentally catologing the events of my life over the past 20 years — re-living the journey from high school malcontent to ... well, adult malcontent. College, stint in the Marine Corps, various screw-ups, breaking some pretty good stories as a reporter, watching some tremendous reporters pass through and evolve as an editor, a doomed marriage that had less laughs than Pauly Shore’s last stand-up routine, ducking verbal barrages and flying silverware from Susan Lyons, watching Shaun Lambert deliberate for hours at a time before he finally decided to fold his hand in a poker game — thus finally allowing the rest of us to wake from our Shaun-induced comas ...
But I digress.
Yes, my post-high school life has been a journey of highs and lows, loves and lost loves and whiskey hangovers that can make a man wish he was having his head put through a sausage grinder just to make the pain lessen a little bit. But there has also been some pretty significant things to happen worldwide over the past two decades.
I’ve watched a great wall of division come down in Berlin, and a huge wall of division be constructed in this nation with the war in Iraq. I’ve seen Ronald Reagan complete his tour of duty at the top and succumb to the deadline we all face at the end of our days, George Bush Sr. try to pick up where Reagan ended, Bill Clinton act as a charming Caligula in the storied Oval Office and George W. Bush draw a line in the proverbial sand with terrorists ... and citizens.
We’ve said goodbye to Gerald Ford, Kurt Cobain, Bob Hope, Roy Orbison, Bette Davis, Gilda Radner, Mel Blanc, Irving Berlin, Greta Garbo, Jim Henson, Michael Landon, Miles Davis, Redd Foxx, Isaac Asimov, Eric Sevareid, Audrey Hepburn, Arthur Ashe, Raymond Burr, Vincent Price, John Candy, Richard Nixon, Ginger Rogers, Wolfman Jack, Mickey Mantle, Gene Kelly, Ella Fitzgerald, George Burns, Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., Herb Caen, Robert Mitchum, James Stewart, Charles Kuralt, Princess Diana, Pol Pot, Gene Autry and Dale Evans, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, Mario Puzo, John F. Kennedy Jr., Wilt Chamberlain, Walter Matthau, Alec Guinness, Perry Como, Waylon Jennings, Dudley Moore, Johnny Unitas and Walter Payton, June Carter and Johnny Cash, Katharine Hepburn, John Ritter, Pat Tillman, Ray Charles, Christopher Reeve, Reggie White, Johnny Cochran, Frank Perdue, Luther Vandross, Peter Jennings, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Ed Bradley, Art Buchwald and, yes, Anna Nicole Smith.
We’ve watched computers integrate themselves into nearly every part of our lives, cell phones make us nearly impossible to find and cable television change the face of what we watch. Over the past 20 years we have seen Michael Jackson go from unrivaled superstar to pariah, U2 become social leaders as well as top record-sellers and Wilford Brimley go from crusty old man to ... well, we all love Wilford.
In 1987 I got my diploma, and Jessica McClure caught the nation’s eye when she fell down a well in Midland, Texas. Steve Winwood had the top song with “Higher Love,” the Bangles taught us to “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “The Last Emperor” won the Academy Award for best movie. It was a simpler time of feel-good music and lots of hair products for all, but we still got caught up in watching the events of the Iran-Contra affair.
Now, 20 years later I prepare to meet my old peers and share our post-high school experiences.
And I still have that smart mouth.