Acting 18 At Age 58

by POPSIE 1956

There’s a big event coming up later this year that I’m really looking forward to, it’s my 40th High School Reunion!

In June, 1974, I was released (prison inmates say sprung) from Shaker High School in Latham, NY

It’s very hard to wrap my head around the idea that all this time has gone by in my life.  Damn I’m old.  Where did all the time go by?

During those 40 years, I have had quite a number of “life experiences”, I can’t/won’t say whether they were positive or negative, just that they happened.  These include:

* Three marriages

* Two kids

* Four grand kids

* Two parents and one step parent passing away

* Performing on the stage, on the radio, on television, and in the wrestling ring (more on that down the line)

* Becoming diabetic, with an appetizer of high blood pressure, a side of high cholesterol, and sleep apnea for desert.

To tell the truth, initially, the thought of “going back to high school” 40 years later wasn’t high on my “to do” list.

Like many other students, I really had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do for most of my time in high school.

I wasn’t a jock (though I did try), I wasn’t a brain, I was just…there.

I actually got picked on a lot for years, that’s what happens when you’re a “husky” kid, as well as being the child of older parents (when I was born my mom was 32, my dad 43), especially when my dad died when I was 13.

The most exciting thing to happen to me was when I was 16 and busted for stealing records at the local department store (a prelude to my career “spinning records”).

In my Junior Year, it all turned around when I discovered the wonders of the theater.  I auditioned for a part in a production of “West Side Story”, got it, and haven’t looked back since.

That’s when high school mattered, and I realized who I was; a goofy guy who wanted to “show off” and try to make people feel good, especially at my own expense.

My Senior Year at Shaker was great, NOW I know who I am.  I wanted to make a career as an actor, but my mother and Guidance Counselor steered me in the direction of broadcasting…that was a more stable profession.

My fellow broadcasters still laugh at that last statement.

After graduation, I kept in touch with just a few classmates, they had their lives and I had mine.

I did go to my 20th Reunion, and was pleasantly shocked by what I saw…unlike the “clique” days of high school, everyone seemed to welcome…and like…everyone.

Wow, this is really cool.

As the night went on and the alcohol content increased, some of the old groups got back together, but it was still a strange but nice vibe in the room.

Fast forward 20 years, long story short, I end up being one of the organizers for the 40th reunion.

It’s not without drama, stress, and a side of frustration, but (as of this writing), it’s really coming together.

Here’s what I’m also finding out, I’m finding new friends, either people I hardly knew then if at all, or people who I had a certain potential negative perception of (or they had a certain potential negative perception of me), or people who I truly considered friends but have lost touch with due to our lives going in different directions.

Time has a way of changing people, and I like to think the change is positive in most of us.

After 40 years, how many of us will come back?  Unknown, but far from all of us, the class was well over 500 strong, and there’s just too many we can’t find (though we are trying), and those who don’t “want to go back to high school”, and also sadly, those no longer with us.

Damn I’m old.

Nonetheless, come the day the Class of 1974 at Shaker High School meets one more time (hopefully not for the last), while I’m not 18 anymore, I plan on having a Hell of a time.

I only hope my liver can keep up with me as it once did.

And is that a sweet smell of perfume in the air I smell?

Good thing I’ve already scheduled a couple of days off from work.