Your Second Choice

Your votes rang true. And I said I would honor them.

So, this post (which is going to be a long one) represents the second story to be told. The first was my life as a star. The third will be my trip to Italy when I surprised my wife for her birthday.

This post, however, is about a get-together I had with some high school friends, all of whom just happen to be female. More on that in a minute.

Due to lack of votes, you will not be reading about my day in a limo with Bob Denver (I still can’t believe nobody wants to hear that story.). Nor will you be reading about the time I almost got arrested scalping Red Sox tickets.

Back to the task at hand, or, as I like to call it, my night with the homecoming queen, the cheerleader, the salutatorian and my former crush.

It’s not uncommon for me to be hanging out with mostly women. For some reason, that’s happened a lot. Two of my three closest friends from college are women. It’s just something about me, I guess. Thankfully, I have a trusting wife.

Deep down, I’m also very sentimental. I love to think back on great memories. The past is a part of us, so why not appreciate. And I appreciate the friends I’ve had throughout more than just high school.

But that’s the interesting thing about this night. Of the four females, I was very good friends with one through high school (the former crush). With two others (the cheerleader and the homecoming queen), we were friends in school, but our friendships have actually gotten stronger since high school, which, in case you’re wondering, ended for me in 1988. One of the four, the salutatorian, I would classify mostly as an acquaintance in school. There’s no reason for it, other than we just really never hung out.

One of the four (the cheerleader) still lives in the town we went to school in. I’m the next closest, being about 25 minutes away. The homecoming queen and my former crush are a couple hours away. The salutatorian is the furthest away, about halfway across the country.

I ran into the cheerleader and mentioned that we should try and get some folks together. She and I talked to the homecoming queen and then we had the makings of a mini-reunion. It was going to be over Thanksgiving, and actually include a few more classmates, but I had a flooded basement and couldn’t make it. So it was cancelled.

We re-scheduled for a night during Christmas vacation and agreed to meet at a local pub.

I was excited to see them and hang out for a bit. To catch up on current lives. To rehash old stories. To exchange gossip. To think ahead. And to just spend time with folks I haven’t had a chance to spend a great deal of time with in the nearly 20 years since high school graduation.

We had an absolute blast. We sat in the corner booth of a pub and just laughed and laughed for almost three hours. Memory after memory. We just went back in time and reflected on an important time in our lives. Stories of couples, parties, parents, teachers and, of course, almost all of our classmates.

It felt like between the five of us, someone knew something about almost everyone in the class. It was just a great deal of fun. I think who had the most fun was the salutatorian. She was so into it, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. She wanted to know everything about everyone.

Here’s my connection to each of them, a bit deeper than you’ve already read about above. And, if this is getting too long for you, I don’t mind if you take a break and come back later. Heck, I don’t mind if you don’t finish it at all. This is fun for me to write and I hope it’s somewhat fun for you to read. Afterall, you did vote for it.

If you can’t relate to the people, relate to the situation. Think of your high school days and constrast and compare a bit. If anything, it’s fun.

So…where do I start?

Ok, the cheerleader. Actually, I should say that the homecoming queen and the crush were cheerleaders, too, but I needed to only have one cheerleader for the story, so here she is. What has 20 years done to her? Nothing. She’s as friendly as ever. Again, we weren’t incredibly close in school, but we were friendly. And we’re still that way. It’s just different, you know? It’s not high school anymore. It’s life. And there’s almost more in common now than there ever was. She has one older son and a younger son, closest to my son’s age. So we were able to talk about that. Also, because she’s local, she often has the scoop on a lot of people before anyone else. So that’s a good thing. What’s more of a good thing? She’s the same person. Just a little older, like all of us. But from my perspective, nothing else has changed.

Next, the salutatorian. As I said, we weren’t incredibly friendly in high school. But I don’t mean that in any negative way. We just weren’t anything more than passing acquaintances. I’m actually not sure I’ve seen her since high school. And I know I hadn’t communicated with her since I was running our 10th reunion and she sent a note that she wasn’t coming. I’ll tell you this, she’s already psyched for our 20th (which I’m also planning). When I heard she was coming, I was happy. I saw it as a chance to actually get to know her better than I probably have. And I think she felt the same way about being there. I almost didn’t recognize her when she came in. The short hair was replaced by long hair, enough that I was like, wow, is that her? We’ve emailed once or twice since December, and I’ll probably let her know I wrote this, but we won’t ever be super close friends. And there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s important is that we will always have something in common and we were able to build on that and just have a good time.

The homecoming queen and I have become better friends since high school then we were during it. I would say that we were friends in high school, but not real close. We had some common friends and were involved in some activities together, but that was it. For some reason, after school, we just got to become closer friends. Can’t really put my finger on it. But I’m glad it happened. In fact, I almost have her to thank for me being together with my wife. She went to school at the University of Vermont. My wife went to St. Michael’s College, which is just a few miles from UVM. When I was in college, a couple of my friends were going up to see friends at St. Michael’s. My wife was just a friend at the time. We had the same summer job. But I was like, well, maybe I’ll go. But I couldn’t decide. Then I thought, wait, the homecoming queen is up there. I could see her, too. And my roommate’s girlfriend lived on her floor at UVM, so there was just this weird connection. I had a nice visit with her and a great visit with my wife, a visit that probably set the stages for our relationship a few years later. But the thing is, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see her that weekend if my friend the homecoming queen wasn’t just a few miles away. Funny how things work, isn’t it?

The former crush is the person I’ve known the longest from this group. In fact, she’s one of my oldest friends. It’s scary to say this, but I can now actually say I’ve known her for more than 30 years. Yikes! That’s because we started going to school together in first grade. So we did elementary school for eight years before going to high school together. Lots of time to build a great friendship there. And, add in that our last names are very similar, so we were always sitting next to each other in classes. Our lockers were also together most of the time in high school, too (she loved slamming mine shut). And, of course, again because of the names, we were home room buddies for four years. It was just a great friendship. And then, of course, like most dopey boys, I wondered why we couldn’t be more. Well, some people are meant to be more and some people aren’t. We just weren’t. And that’s OK, because we are still friends. It was awkward for a while, but we got through it. And I’m glad we did. I don’t talk to her often as I wish. We email now and then and we exchange Christmas cards, but you know what, once a good friend, always a good friend. It’s just how it is. And how it should be. I could count on her then, and I know I could count on her now.

So, if you’re still with me, congrats on making it through. I won’t keep you any longer. But that’s the story of my night with the cheerleader, the homecoming queen, the salutatorian and the former crush.

If you made it through, thanks. Now think back to your high school years. Fun memories, don’t you think?

What else? I got nothin’.


5 Comments on “Your Second Choice”

  1. ME says:

    Thanks buddy, that was great. Thanks for sharing.

    You can never have a post that’s too long…

  2. BP says:

    I agree that you could never have a post that is too long. Thanks for the great story. It’s weird but I have been connecting with high school friends as well. 20 yr reunion isn’t too far for me either. It is great to remember those fun times when life may have seemed so tough sometimes..but we still had something to smile about at the end of the day

  3. "Salutatorian" says:

    I really enjoyed the recap and what a fun night that was. And yes, I am looking forward to our 20th. We will have so much to catch up on!

  4. Anonymous says:

    “the cheerleader” said…

    I loved the recap. I, like the “salutatorian” can’t wait for the 20th reunion. We will need a “fun night” afterwards to talk about everything that is happening with everyone that attends

  5. ME says:

    Hey, did I meet one of these fine folks at the Steak Loft once?


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