The Invisible People
Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 3:21 AM
High School Reunion is a Time to Celebrate
The 'Invisible People'
This article appeared in the "Daily Breeze", Article ID: 0000841632
Date: October 24, 2001
Publication: Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA)
High school reunion is a time to celebrate `the invisible people', Richard Burton
Few things grab us by the collar and humble us as much as our high school reunions. They come back, every ten years or so, to haunt us like a ghost from the past. And maybe that's just what's so humbling about them... our youthful past is exposed once again-laid bare like an open wound, and brutally juxtaposed with our current reality.
I'm from the class of 1969. What a year. Nixon was President; the Vietnam War raged out of control; men landed on the moon; a half million young people gathered for the Woodstock Festival; the New York Mets won the World series; and gas was 35 cents a gallon.
And so, having graduated, barely, a little over 30 years ago, I have had much time to consider, ponder, meditate on, and wrestle with the reasons we even bother to go to our high school reunions. I've gone to my 10, 20, and 30-year reunions. Of course, we all stay in close touch with a few old friends that we've known since kindergarten. And we often bump into old classmates around town. But why would an otherwise sane person subject himself to such extreme scrutiny by people who you knew way back when.
First of all, things were simpler back then. I know for a fact because I have a teenager in high school today. Back then, you were either a jock or a non-jock. I suppose if you really wanted to complicate things, you could divide the non-jock category into four basic sub-divisions: The Brains; the Prom Queens; the Hoods; and the endless rabble of nameless students known simply as the Invisible People. Fortunately, most of us fit into this latter category.
I say fortunate because reunions are the great equalizer. There is a satisfying irony in finding out that the captain of the football team now has bad knees, a beer belly, and is thrice divorced. That the gal whom you thought was a goddess now looks more like the gal at the checkout counter at K-Mart. And that the star honor student who later went on to receive a Ph.D. in nuclear astrophysics, has dropped-out, moved to Oregon, and opened an ostrich farm.
Now this is the best part. Because most of us were among the Invisible People in high school, we actually held up much better over the years than our more visible counterparts, the Jocks, the Brains, the Queens, and the Hoods. Our legacy is too blurred to really hang a label on. We were diamonds in the rough. We hadn't blossomed yet. Had not reached our peak. And thus, it is all but impossible to notice a glaring difference between then and now, because we seem today, about how we seemed back in high school... only with wrinkles.
We survived high school without too much baggage, and therefore, assimilated into proper society without much difficulty. Many of the Jocks, Brains, Queens, and Hoods had a far more difficult time of it out in the "real" world in spite of their former lofty positions.
Actually, from my keen observations at these reunions, I would say that after the Invisible People, the Hoods fared best in the long run. Some had gone into the Marines after high school. That'll usually straighten a person out. Some had even done a little prison time. Ditto. But most had simply outgrown their bullish and antisocial ways. These Hoods are now, for the most part, respectable members of society, married with 2.5 kids, and coaching soccer on weekends.
But back to the undefined masses, the multitudes of us who didn't stand out. Who just did what our parents and teachers told us to do. Who simply went to class, did our homework, got a good nights sleep, and did it all again the next day for 4 long, inglorious years. All without our 15 minutes of youthful fame. Here's to the true survivors... us...the Invisible people.