The Greek Ampitheatre at Santa Monica (CA) High School, where the Class of 1985 wore their caps and gowns and recieved their diplomas on June 21 of that year.
MY RECONNECTION WITH THE PEOPLE WHO I SPENT MY FORMATIVE YEARS WITH
I reckon it’s always a little bit trippy to see people who you go back decades with,
Who you once played Little League with,
Or played kickball and handball during recess with,
Or had sleepovers with,
Or took pop quizzes in Algebra with,
As full-fledged adults after those days are long gone.
Before I go any further, let me make one thing crystal clear:
As far as social nuances and level of popularity were concerned, my career as a member of Santa Monica High School’s Class of 1985 was arguably the worst of all time, no doubt due to my having the part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder called Asperger’s Syndrome, which because of its main characteristic of negatively affecting social interaction – and which I knew nothing about until 1996, over ten years after graduation – more or less doomed me as far as being thought of as “cool” in the eyes of too many of my fellow classmates.
And which doomed me to being largely shunned between 1982 and 1985 as I did and said inappropriate things that induces a bit of post-traumatic stress today.
So the fact that none of that seemed to matter when I attended my 30th reunion of Samohi’s (take the first two letters of Santa, Monica, and High) class of ’85 this past weekend;
That I had a very good time saying hello, reconnecting, and catching up with people whom in some cases I met in 1976, when I was a goofy Aspie kid with quite the unruly afro, moving from a place where roosters crowed every morning, where the nearest neighbor was at least half a mile away, and where I fed calves – yes it was a rural area,
To a place where, well…let’s just say that it was an 180-degree level difference from where I came from, making it as a kid with ASD extremely difficult to adjust socially,
That is truly saying something.
Particularly since this two-night soiree was held at Brennan’s, a local pub, and the Riviera Country Club in Beverly Hills-ish Pacific Palisades, which happened to be the site of the 1985 Samohi Prom and, unfortunately, held more bad memories for me as my date that May night was of the fixed-up kind who evidently saw me as a Steve Urkel on a pronounced scale, she gave off such a vibe of “Oh Lord, just let me get through this night with this goofy mark!”
But that was neither here nor there as several things went through my mind as I was glad-handing and hugging people, finding out what they were up to and telling them what I was up to:
My favorite image of the town that the Class of ’85 grew up and attend high school in, as viewed from the Santa Monica Pier. Nice skyline, huh?
1. After checking out the views of the golf course that is home to the annual Northern Trust Open, where Tiger Woods has played in and which big names like Arnold Palmer has won, I understood completely why the reunion organizers chose Riviera Country Club as our site.
The place was absolutely gorgeous!
And well worth the money I paid to attend the big shin-dig.
2. Much like our 25th reunion five years before, everyone looked great!
Youthful in a haven’t-changed-a-bit kind of way.
I was telling people how I had attended an all-class reunion that Samohi was having back in the mid-1990s, and when I saw the folks that had graduated thirty and forty years before in the 1950s and 60s, the main thoughts I had (with all due respect) were “Gee, they look so old,” and “Is that what we’re going to look like when we reach that age?”
For too many of those 50s grads in particular, it seemed to me like they were on their way to a Lawrence Welk concert in Branson, MO; and this was in 1995!
I was happy to see that regarding that second thought above, the one about whether or not we ’85 people would look similarly at the thirty-year mark, the answer was an emphatic “No!”
I felt a sense of pride that we apparently took care of ourselves and our health, having a better knowledge of how to do so than previous generations.
And speaking of health…
3. I was especially glad that I was able to go, because…
Back in October, I had a stroke scare, complete with an extreme pressure headache and numbness in my right hand that sent me to the emergency room, where I found out that my weight was way too high and my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were off the charts, to the extent where the doctors were quite concerned.
As was I; to be frank, I was scared.
Scared that I may not be around for any kind of reunions anymore.
That fear caused me to go on an exercise, medication, and nutrition program that I’m continuing to this day and beyond.
So I guess one can imagine how pleased I was to be at that country club and chat with former cheerleaders, class officers, athletes, and musicians like I (sort of) was, my main activity in those days being a member of the Samohi Marching Band.
4. As I learned what my fellow class of 85ers were up to and what they had accomplished in the thirty years since we were handed our diplomas, what I heard induced more pride in me as we all turned out fine with enjoyable lives.
Of course it goes without saying that much credit and thanks goes to the ladies who spent so much time organizing the two get togethers; booking the places, arranging the meals, contacting hard-to-find classmates, making the name tags.
If I had the financial ability, I would have paid them a good sum of money because they so deserved it.
And it also goes without saying that I had quite the fun time seeing so many people who I knew so well in the time of Disco (and “Disco Sucks!”), New Wave, (VERY early) Madonna, Michael Jackson (RIP), Prince, Ronald Reagan’s Revolution, and everything else that went with that 70s and 80s era.
As for the next reunion, whenever that may be…
I hope I’m around to see it, and I hope everyone else in Samohi’s Class of 1985 is, too.
Barnum Hall, Samohi’s Auditorium, an iconic landmark in Santa Monica located right on campus