I can still remember my last day. It was chaos, like the entire 1992 graduating class of Riverview Academy had been liberated from a prison camp, which given our narrow world view isn't a terrible analogy. The halls were crammed in the moments before that final bell. Everybody was hugging and crying, laughing and running wild, while Boys II Men sang, "It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday."
What I thought was embarrassing and cheesy then, today is … well … it's still pretty cheesy but sweet and sentimental (at least it wasn't Bad English or the Bangles).
I couldn't wait to get outta there. I'd spent my entire school life in that place and was ready to move on. Besides, half my class was going to the community college anyway, and there was a summer full of parties and cruising to look forward to.
Funny how life takes its toll on even the best of adolescent intentions.
But there's always a second chance to recapture youth, which is what will happen this weekend at the Riverview Academy high school reunion.
Sadly, I won't be there. But I have a good reason.
It's not because I'm ashamed at my physical appearance (I was bald at the five-year reunion), my lack of career achievement (there's still time to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning, crime-fighting, ninja rock star) or my social status (sure, my wife makes more money than me, but she's hot and I like being a kept man/freelance writer).
Nope, I'm going to an Iron Maiden concert in New York City.
But that doesn't mean I can't stroll down memory lane by proxy.
For all the things that I was supposed to have learned in high school — the nights cramming for tests, "borrowing" the smart girl's homework to pass off as my own, the endless hours in detention writing lines promising never to again do whatever had gotten me there in the first place — one nugget of wisdom sticks out.
"May your life be like toilet paper: long and useful."
Such was the sage pronouncement scribbled in my senior annual, alongside things such as, "Don't change just to please me," "Knick knack, first to sign your crack" (which someone always wrote on the seam) and, my personal favorite, "Party naked!"
I was a writer even back then. Trouble was, my handwriting was so bad no one could read it. I got my first taste of freelancing from writing the term papers for at least half my English class, and I got paid about as much then as I do now.
Who knew Dickens was referring to high school when he wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of pegged jeans and parachute pants, of mullets and gold nugget rings, of the Boot Scootin' Boogie and car stereos that 'hit!'; it was the season of football games, winning spirit sticks and running suicides; when a wild night meant cruisin' the dirt roads, or sippin' Boone's Farm out in a field somewhere."
'Course, I'm paraphrasing.
So to those at the Riverview Academy reunion, I say, crank up the Drivin' N Cryin' and party like it's 1992. But let's not get naked. The babysitter's gotta be home by midnight.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.