The Mean Little Column - "The Impending Doom of the Reunion"

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Mean Little ManI gotta tell ya Fansters, The Mean Little Man has been in a sour mood as of late. Now you're probably thinking, "Yeah, what a surprise." My bitterness has had a little peak recently as those close to the Mean Little Man will attest. I gotta apologize and thank those around me for weathering my bitterness.

I found out that the 10 year reunion of my fellow survivors of the governmental social program called High School is probably going to be canceled. It took me quite a bit of mental preparation to get ready for this thing, to actually make the decision to go. Now its not like I have an intention of gloating. What do I have to gloat about when it comes down to it? Is my life any more fulfilling than anyone else's? Who's to be the judge of that? And even if it was, what ever did they do to deserve having someone make them feel like shit in my presence?

Now don't get me wrong, High School was no picnic. I didn't like it then, and I certainly don't like it now. Unless you have a talent and a drive to conform, and the necessary physical attributes, its pretty much a daily reminder that you're different, outside. What physical attributes? Hmmm... Attractive does help. Being born to means helps you keep up with fashion, but that isn't completely necessary. If you have the ability to excel in high-profile sports some towns will talk of you for decades to come. And being just smart enough to do well in CP classes, but just not smart enough to question what the point of it all is, means you'll get along fine. If you don't have the ability or reason to question the path the school or community lays out for you, your life will probably be just fine. At least that's the way it's sold to you.

I wasn't one of these people. I had teachers tell me they were going to fail me out in the first couple weeks. I was threatened with violence, laughed at, and asked to jump through hoops for others. To each of these I resisted. Found my own means of rebellion. I will not be failed out. I will get you're A. AND, I will do so rejecting the path you say is necessary to achieve your dangling carrots. I will not be bullied. I will not give up on the fact that I have a right to dress, question, act, however I feel. That no one has the right to make me feel wrong simply because I am different.

I also had some great friends. Some great times. My rebellion was not always successful. I cracked many times and caved. It happens. I'm not made of stone and I hope I never will be.

So, I come from a shit-house of a little town in NJ. From what I understand close to 70% of my graduating class still lives within the greater metro area of this tiny all-too-American town. There's a shitty little bar in town that has a weekly reunion of all the cool people. Good for them. Why peak at 17 when you can plateau and stay 17 forever?

The Reunion is in danger of being canceled. Due to lack of interest. Amazing huh? What a testament. Many of those who were celebrated never left the little town. Would you? I probably wouldn't leave any place that celebrated me. Those of us who were not celebrated got out. Most got out of the town, even more out of the state. Thinking back some of the ones that had the hardest time back then went so far as to leave the country.

So the popular people stayed. They see each other regularly. Why would they be interested in a reunion? Who do they want to see that they don't already see regularly? Obviously so few that even a buffet dinner and all the Bud they can drink won't lure them all of 10 miles away to the only hotel in the area.

Amazing. Simply amazing. Do I take it personally?

Of course. Maybe my problem is that I take everything personally? Why shouldn't I? Who else is it happening to? I hate hearing "Don't take it personally."

I get stepped on somehow of course I take it personally. The perpetrators took a time of my life I won't get back. Time is the essence of life. To waste time is to waste life. To have my time wasted by someone else's lack of courtesy, insincerity, cruelty, or what are basically lies, is them treating my life, my living and breathing, my existence, with no regard. It is a negation of my life.

Existential as hell, I know. Self-centered? Absolutely. Having hundreds of people opt not to drop a couple bucks and drive ten miles to enjoy all the buffet and beer they can shove down their gullets, with the happy upside of seeing me and tons of others they haven't seen since sharing 4, 5, or 6 years of their lives with? It's insulting. Absolutely.

I'm not even going to going to get into what a cocked-up fiasco the planning was. Those planners I know that have a semblance of class or brains had their hands tied by the rest.

I guess the majority of my classmates have been so habituated by the impulsiveness that keggers and local bars allow, that they don't realize that RSVP means you don't throw on a ball cap and decide if you're going the day of the event.

Whatever. It was a tough decision to make. Deciding to go. Anyone I gave a damn about from that period of my life I've done my best to keep ties with. The rest? I could care. I know a lot of them have nicer cars. Nicer jobs than mine? Perhaps, but not many. Have they gotten fat, or bald, or impoverished? Have they failed miserably? I don't care. I do wish them all well, and I do hope they have had the ability to overcome the things in themselves that made them such ass-holes back then.

But their ass-holishness back then did make me feel ugly. It was a hard and daily reminder that I was not accepted. That pretty things and pretty people were not for me. That I was not attractive to them. That since I would not conform I deserved to be alone. Not that their love was all that attractive, but I dare anyone not to be able to speak the name out loud, right now, of that girl or guy that was just so beautiful it made your heart ache. For me, that person was also incredibly nice too! And running into her a couple years ago she even remembered my name and was happy to see me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not pining for the pretty people and looking at my fellow freaks as ugly or not worth my time. Those fellow freaks were some of the most beautiful people I've ever known.

We all have that beautiful ideal that the community of high school worked hard to remind us was unattainable unless you had conformity and being graced with looks and talent. That that was the cost of companionship with anyone.

Day after tomorrow is the reunion. It's a go. I've gotten a pretty good idea of the guest list and it makes me cringe. It seems my fellow freaks of the class of '90 will be scantly represented. I don't blame them.

Let me give you a run down of what High School was for us. Imagine the hokiest, most naive view of Americana towns from the 50's and then pull the veil away from the darker sides of the xenophobia.

It's a cloistered little burg. The kind of town where there are literally 3rd generational football players. Where the incident that instigated a bitter bitter rivalry with the neighboring town is still talked about. The incident occurred, I believe, in 1954.

If you played sports or brought a little honor to the school good for you. Not just any sports though. Football. Then wrestling. Then Basketball. Baseball players were celebrated if they mixed that with one of the above. Soccer was the sports equivalent of Chess Club.

I think 2 incidents summed things up nicely to explain the times and the community.

The first? A friend had a party, probably the best freaks' party of my tenure. Punks, goths, skinheads, artists, freaks, and sympathizers from all over came. Three bands, members of which now play with Broken Heroes, Blanks 77. Great punk party.

Some jocks showed up. We offered the olive branch and said hang and be happy. It was cool.

For a while.

They decided to start breaking shit. Were kicked out. Partially trashed a guys car and another guy's face. When the cops arrived for the destruction of property call they instead busted up the party, gave a citation for abandoning a junked vehicle, and gave the drunk jocks a ride home. Arresting them may have hurt their eligibility for State's.

The worst had to be Heather. A beautiful, angry, smart little skinhead punk girl. Killed by a cab in NYC one evening. She passed the next day, early afternoon. The announcement at the end of the day over our school's loudspeakers still echoes in my mind for its lack of care.

"We regret to inform you that Heather (Last Name) has died this afternoon due to injuries from an accident yesterday...

...and by the way people, try to keep those hallways clean."

Juxtapose that with, a year later 2 jocks and 2 cheerleaders were involved in a car crash. Alcohol was rumored to be involved. No one was killed. There were injuries. One person had to have their face put back together, but she came out prettier than ever. They experienced pain, excruciating I'm sure, and I am sorry for them having to go through that. How did the school react? Offered counseling, lowered the flag to half mast, and almost gave us a half day.

That's it, in a nutshell. I could go into things like having people say, "What is everyone crying for she was just another punk." So hold onto your butts. Next month? The reunion part 2. The follow-up.

Hugs and Smooches!,
The Mean Little Man on 11-27-2000.

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