The Last Hurrah

Last week I went to my 50th high school reunion.  The best thing about it was that no one cornered me and pulled out pictures of their grandchildren. The worst thing about it was that most everyone seemed pretty old–not oldish in the way I am, more like “retired” old.  Everything else was kind of a mixed bag.  I re-connected with a few people I had been friendly with which was kind of sweet; but the overarching feeling I had was akin to the aphorism about eating soup with a fork…it keeps you busy but doesn’t fill you up.  I had  been excited about the reunion but wound up feeling let down.

My graduating class had more than a 1000 students but fewer than 75 came to the reunion party.  Why the low turnout is anyone’s guess…there was a recitation of the names of those who the organizers believed had passed on (the ultimate pass/fail exam) but those numbers couldn’t begin to account for so many people missing what is sure to be the last convocation of this sort.  My last, for sure.  When I was leaving, as I was saying my “Good-bye”s, I knew that in most cases it meant forever.  Weird.

 To give you some idea of the ethnic composition of this group, there were eleven “Cohen”s in my graduating class;  also four other “Stein”s (none of whom I knew).  I’ve starting writing a Chanukah song to parallel the Twelve Days of Christmas; I’ve only gotten as far as the lyric: “Eleven Cohens praying”.   I’ll be spending much of  November working on that.  Interestingly, there was only one African-American in my graduating class.  And even more interestingly, being the liberal Jews we (mostly) were, he was voted “Most Popular“.  A friend of mine at the reunion claimed he had come in second in the voting; we agreed there probably should have been a “Most Popular White Guy” category.

One of the best stories (not this one) to come from the reunion was the appearance of a guy that I may or may not have been friends or friendly with.  (Not remembering the closeness or distance of relationships was a constant theme for the evening.)  In any event, printed on the name tag that had been provided, was the name, “Spider Kedelsky” below which in parentheses it said, “Formerly, Harold Silver”.  Yes, Hal had renamed himself Spider!   He had become a dancer and has become somewhat of an impressario in Seattle.  When I subsequently Googled him, I found that he’s all over the place… with no mention whatsoever of his former identity.  I thought this name change thing was a terrific idea.   And, he turned out to be a lovely guy.

A few days after the reunion party, I started getting over my disappointment.  But then I started reading the biographies that had been provided by each of us and assembled in a booklet that was  distributed to all the attendees.  Reading these was a big mistake.  Apart from the dry information, i.e. address, phone, email, etc. there was a section we had been asked to complete, the heading of which was, “What have you been doing with yourself since we last met?”    I thought trying to answer that was idiotic–so my hand written response which is now in this book for eternity was, “Ask me after the first martini, but before the third”.  Apparently, I was the only one who thought the question was moronic because my classmates wrote down lots of stuff ( occasionally including the names and ages of their grandchildren–something I really needed to know).  A number of the responses included descriptions of lives that had been lived in the most interesting manner.  Stints in Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe.  All  so much richer sounding than my life.  Reading these accounts returned me to that empty feeling I was talking about.  Maybe I should have changed my name.   I’m sure Neil Cougar Mellencamp might have wound up doing some extraordinary things!

Spider K.

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6 Responses to “The Last Hurrah”

  1. Knarf Says:

    Gee I thought…. “that was a great response”!
    No need to feel down.
    I’ve always been impressed by your straight ahead, honest and humorous writing style.
    Keep ’em coming.

    Knarf

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      thanks knarf… .

      i thought it was a pretty good response also… but obviously i (and apparently, you) are marching to a different drummer…one with a poor sense of rhythm.

  2. Lav Says:

    great photo. which martini are you on, the first or the third?

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      i know that’s a trick question…just haven’t figured it out yet. apropos of nothing, there’s a saying: martinis are like breasts…one is too few and three are too many.

  3. Mike McPartland Says:

    For me, the most hilarious part of this blog was the guy who changed his name, because it reminjds me of a Jewish guy who started in the teaching game with me about 53 years ago. His original name was Irving Slomowitz, and previously, he had worked for IBM, where he felt that as a Jew his success in the company was very limited. So he changed his name to Irving Sloan. Some disguise! I guess that’s one of the reasons he left IBM and went into teaching. Anyway, great article, Mike McP.

  4. spiderk Says:

    Thanks for the wondeerful story about Spider Kedelsky/Harold Silver. However, if you Google Spider Kedelsky, the fourth entry on the first page from “chorus gypsy” mentions the name change as associated with his dance career. And he is a lovely guy, as I am the aforementioned. It was good to see you at the reunion, and I too wondered why the low turnout. Unlike you, I had a great time as I remet three classmates I had not seen in 50 years and they were among the few whose futures I had always wondered about. At the end of the evening we were all reluctant to leave, but when they started disassembling the dance floor it was likely the time to split. Very much enjoyed your read on the event, and hope to see you if you ever put down that martini glass and make it to Seattle where I remain an itinerant impresario, semi-retired division.

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