Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Group Photo

I got a haircut yesterday, will probably not eat a lot today (a two meal diet) and  likely dress well, at least in my terms, this evening. For those who know me, attention to physical detail is not my strength. But tonight is something special: my high school reunion.

Most of us don't get to make an impression on our classmates more often than the Mets travel to the World Series. Each time counts. 

I understand that little is likely to change in my life, or the others in attendance, whether I shave or not today, whether I wear my new glasses or contact lenses and whether or not I even appear. 
But vanity and ego can be no more evident than on that stage where you get to show yourself before some you seemingly didn't form deep kinship with even as you sat side by side in class during the Lyndon Johnson years.

My grade was only 100 or so strong and tonight will be barely a quarter that. So there is no hiding in these bushes. Four or five of those assembled have remained the closest friends for the last half century. The rest I recall mostly as pages of a good book I read in my youth. But somehow it is important that they all walk away from this gathering impressed by my stature, physically at least.

When later asked by our spouses, our children or even our mirrors we will weigh our success in large part by how we held up in that group photo. The one where we are all tightly bunched, where we gauge our ability to beat back time in relation to the statistical norm of those around us. "I looked pretty good" or "where did that second chin come from?" will be echoed throughout the households of my classmates in days hence.

I got a number two buzz, as though cutting the few remaining hairs on my head very short will serve as statement that a near empty scalp shows me in my full glory. 

I will probably wear that sports jacket with the wide shoulders, making my rather puny upper body grow larger in stature. I understand that a lifetime of studiously avoiding working out cannot be fully hidden by my attire, but it can at least distract from reality.

I comprehend intellectually that the measure of a man goes far beyond the width of his girth or the cut of his tresses. That attention to the outer being is shallow and without purpose. But on this night I am seemingly compelled to give great weight to those without it and high kudos to old acquaintances who appear anything but.

So I will suck in my gut, trim my nose and ear hairs and head off for the evening, with the fervent hope that the guy standing next to me in that photo does not have a picture of Dorian Gray in his closet.


Anonymous said...

You'll have to tell us how it went!
I was surrounded by old people at the last one I went to:)

Robert said...

Read this piece to those assembled (after the group photo). No standing O (hardly even a seated one). And I think I was sitting just in front of our Dorian Gray