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Left Coast / Right Coast: The College Reunion

I recently had the pleasure of attending a college reunion. I won’t bore you with what number of years this one represented, however I will say that it seems more and more like I attended college during the War between the States, i.e., the U.S. Civil War of 1865.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Frank Hammer.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

I recently had the pleasure of attending a college reunion. I won’t bore you with what number of years this one represented, however I will say that it seems more and more like I attended college during the War between the States, i.e., the U.S. Civil War of 1865.

It turns out my undergraduate university was founded in 1824 so I could well have attended during that era.

For those of you who have attended one, or for those who haven’t, here are the highlights.

Hair: I don’t think it is possible to forecast which of the men in my class would or would not lose their hair. But all I can say is I am fortunate in not only having all my hair (not even a receding hairline) but it seems I now am growing hair in places on my head that never had hair in my youth. It is a fact that where the hair was once a rich dark brown, it now is mostly grey. Funny, after washing it in a shower, at least before the hair is fully dry it is significantly darker than afterwards.

Girth: Perhaps we all remember our “freshman 15.” Those are the 15 pounds we gained in our freshman year due to the fact that a university meal plan is very very rich in starches. Lots and lots of potatoes. Plus the somewhat questionable eating habits when your meal plan is a buffet style – so unlimited in quantity.

Watch this classic scene of Bluto in the Cafeteria in "Animal House." Now none of my classmates held a candle to Bluto shown here. But it was tempting to help oneself to a couple extra desserts. Plus, the more sedentary lifestyle of “studying one’s butt off” seven days a week.

But those 15 are nothing compared to seeing some of my classmates decades after graduation. In some cases, I did not recognize them. Instead of the slim trim young man’s physiques, I saw lots of middle-aged paunch. In some cases, more than one chin. What came to mind in one former classmate was when I met his father at his graduation. I remembered that meeting decades later so seeing the classmate so reminded me of his father I had to ask how the father was.

Facial lines: None of us actually can see the lines creeping into our faces. Even though you see yourself each morning when you shave or comb your hair. But ever slowly they manage to eek their way onto the face. There is a huge cosmetic industry in Facial Creams. They all “guarantee” the same result. Spend hundreds of dollars on our product and watch all the lines just disappear from your face. Guess what? None of them can erase the inevitable lines that just find a way to appear. Then there is also cosmetic surgery. A multi-billion-dollar industry. But no matter how much you spend; it is exactly like shoveling sand against the tide. An exercise in futility.

Old dates: We all remember wonderful times during our college years. Attending a reunion and seeing many of your old boyfriends or girlfriends is just like playing Russian Roulette. I found in most cases, one’s memory of these old acquaintances for the most part makes you wonder what you ever saw in dating that person. (Of course, my wife quickly jumps in and says: “Who do you think you are, Cary Grant?”)

All the old college hang outs. In my case, there was a great cheap (remember we were college students) diner, open 24 hours. Many was the weekend trip to “sober up” after a long night. They had great coffee, one of those juke boxes with the control panel on each table. I still have Louie Louie” as my cell phone ring tone.

I remember when J. Edgar Hoover had the song investigated as conventional wisdom suggested the song was subversive. I remember the verdict after a number of FBI technicians and agents determined: “We can’t understand the lyrics either.”

Unfortunately, we are now of the age where not all our classmates have survived. I dread each new communication informing us that Another one Bites the Dust.  (RIP Freddy Mercury.)

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