Jan 012014
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I’m not going!

I just decided that I won’t be attending my college reunion this year despite the schedule of scintillating events, the opportunity to see the campus again and the daredevil feeling of walking into a gun fight that a trip to Chicago always provides.  I’m torn because it is the big five oh.  It has been fifty years since I received my diploma in the campus chapel.  My how those years fly by.  T’s a big deal that frankly never crossed my mind in June 1963. No twenty-one year old can comprehend living this long.  After four years I decided that Chicago is a fine enough place if you like cold, wind and humidity but I never considered sticking around and I never thought once about coming back in 50 years.

The University of Chicago

Rockefeller Chapel

College was a great experience that I failed to take proper advantage of but looking back I probably handled it at least passably.   I passed my courses, got the degree and moved on into the real world eventually after detours to graduate school and the army.  Somehow all the clichés about those wonderful college years didn’t find me.  I didn’t make any lifetime friends in college.  I didn’t keep in touch with anybody.  Which simplifies the decision about attending my reunion because there is nobody that has any interest in me and nobody I want to catch up with.

No old college friends for me!

The old cliché is that everybody forms lasting bonds in college.  If so, then I am the exception.  Just for kicks I rewatched the Big Chill the other night.  I only vaguely remembered the plot from the 80’s.  What I did remember was the cast of stars, the great old music and the sense that it captured something about college in the 60’s.  If it did, it was a completely different 60’s from the one I lived.  These men and women somehow bonded in college and now fifteen years later those bonds were still strong enough for one woman to offer her husband as a sperm donor.  Despite the hype from Drew Barrymore who is now apparently a host on TCM, it is a ridiculous corny movie fairy tale framed from some nerdy writer’s college fantasy.  I watched in amazement because it was so silly but still I had to watch the whole thing.

My college years formed no strong bonds.  Perhaps I should have ventured further east to Michigan for my college but somehow I don’t think it would have mattered.  I suspect my college reality is more the norm than the one in the Big Chill.  I also suspect that it is more common for college friendships to fall by the wayside.  I know that the college love fest in the Big Chill is a wild exaggeration.  I just don’t know where the truth really lies.  Possibly I am missing some serious bonding ability.  I like people well enough.  People are fun to have around- some of the time.  It is just that after a time, they start getting in the way.  They start expecting things and before you know it you are in the middle of somebody else’s life and you find that they have even more problems than you do.

Maybe it is just me.

Maybe I’ve always been a cantankerous curmudgeon, incapable of friendship.  Maybe I’ve been lying to myself all these years about actually liking people.  Maybe I am actually some kind of alien life form somehow injected into human form.  It’s beyond my ability to know.   I suppose at this point in my life, who cares.  I’m not about to change now, even if I wanted to.

My reunion invitation is in the trashcan.  I am definitely not wasting any more time thinking about attending.  Whatever the impact of my college years on my life, I see no benefit from trying to relive them and no impact from renewing acquaintance with classmates from the past.  They’ve managed for 50 years without me.  A few more won’t hurt.



Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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  One Response to “Down with college reunions!”

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