I received a notice today of my high-school class reunion--the 60th, if you can believe it, and I hope you can, because I certainly can't. I will not be in attendance, just as I was not in attendance for my first-through-fifty-ninth reunions. The charming saying "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out" fairly well sums up my attitude on my high-school experience.
For me, it was like spending four years watching paint dry. Even when I try very hard, I can remember almost nothing at all about it. While I had a number of friendly acquaintances, with the exception of Gary Atkins and Lief Ayen, both irredeemably straight and to whom I never "confessed" to being gay, I had no real friends. I was not a mingler in high school; I am not a mingler now. It's not that my classmates weren't, by and large, nice people; it's just that I was painfully aware that I had absolutely nothing in common with them. And though I realized later that it was a statistical impossibility, I was to the very best of my knowledge the only gay in school.
I know there were enjoyable moments during those four years, of course. There had to have been. It's just that they are so buried in the banality that I don't care to take the time to go looking for them.
I suppose I could consider the numerous sexual encounters with my (male) classmates pleasant, if I could remember them. One of the nice things--for me--was that teenage males are ruled by hormones and testosterone and it is the responding to them which matters far more than the niceties of with whom the end result is achieved. The self-recriminations (theirs, certainly not mine) always came after the act; they never prevented them. And the unwritten rule was that they never, never be spoken of again. Ever. I never came out to anyone in school, not that I needed to. I wasn't bullied or picked on. I was just like one of the extras in a movie mob scene; there, but unnoticed.
I probably had a few more casual girl friends--as opposed to girlfriends, the very idea of which revolted me to the core--than guys. One, Marlene, whom I called "Flower" after Thumper's girlfriend in "Bambi" was truly charmingly sweet, and I enjoyed her company. Another was a very nice girl named Donna of whom I was quite fond. I felt an affinity with Donna, who was overweight, not beautiful, and therefore, like me, invisible. But what she lacked on the outside, she more than made up for in kindness and understanding.
In high school, as has been true most of my life, I was acutely aware that, being gay, I did not "belong," and I cannot, in all honesty, remember really ever wanting to belong. Of course, I wanted to be liked...who doesn't? But for going to dances and hanging around with my classmates after school and weekends,...nothing. They were heterosexual. I was not, and never the twain shall meet. Again, my memory may be slightly faulty here, but I also do not remember ever being particularly lonely because of it. I know now, when I read of how difficult it is for gay teens today, how blessed I was.
My only extra-curricular activity in high school was orchestra, in which I played the clarinet, not particularly well. I took it up in junior high after falling in love with Mike Alongi, who in addition to being beautiful was a truly talented clarinetist. I think I might have been a grade or two behind him, so he was totally unaware of my existence, though I was achingly aware of his. In the orchestra, which was led by a nice older teacher named June Borland--I had never heard of a man named June before, and I fear that is the only reason I still remember him--there was a trombone player who went by the name of Candy. He was, to me, dumbfoundingly beautiful, but I was several planets beyond Pluto in the solar system of which he was the sun.
Oh, and to this day, I have no idea why we called ourselves "E-Rabs." ("E," I know, stood for East High. "Rabs" stood for God-knows what.) I didn't care then, and I don't care now.
So, while I wish my classmates, 99.9 percent of whose names I cannot recall, a wonderful reunion discussing golf and spouses and showing photos of the grandchildren, I don't think my not being there ("Roger who?") will be either noticed or missed. And I'd just as soon keep it that way; though I would be delighted were they to decide to read some of my books.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, the recently-released Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).