If you bumped into me during last Friday’s General Homecoming and I gave you my customary grin but you failed to see any signs of recognition in my eyes, not to worry. You were not the only one.
Besides, I probably recognized you; but only not as you stood in front of me. My processor was still busy reading the cache and digging into the database somewhere inside the hard drive. You were dutifully queued.
Remembering people’s names and faces in chance one-off encounters is difficult enough at the best of times; but Friday was nothing if not processor overload. I mean, if I was my computer, I would have given up and rebooted.
It was a lot easier when I had just arrived at the venue. I was with my advisory class the other night; so I made it a point to mingle with former students from the other classes. A few I immediately recognized; but a few were, shall we say, challenging.
Take this guy who we shall call Edwin. The image etched inside my head of him was as a snotty little imp of a senior who was probably still waiting to grow curly little hairs that he should have done so three years earlier. As this tall man walked confidently towards me, I thought I recognized the face. Sweet Mother of Jesus! It was Edwin; and I had to look up at him!
There were so many people saying hi and hello all at the same time that the processor was starting to really lag behind real time. It was a good thing that the organizers thoughtfully provided ID cards for everyone to wear. When memory failed, I did the sensible senior moment thingy and stooped down to read the cards.
By the time the program started, I was dazed. I mean, seriously! I was looking for a vacant seat when somebody called out my name. I turned around, said the obligatory “hi” and was turning around to walk away when something clicked in my head. I bolted around and cried, “Danny!”
My classmate from elementary and high school; and, in fact, his family and mine were Air Force friends. At least, the recognition jumped the queue and spared me from real embarrassment.
We went to get our food stubs, lined up at the food counter, found ourselves a table and were soon engaged in a catching-up-on-each-other conversation. I noticed this lost-looking man with a familiar face striding aimlessly towards us when again something clicked inside my head. “Brile!” I cried out as I hastily got up. Another classmate… I hadn’t seen him, like, forever…???
Frankly, I was expecting to sit at the table of my former students from my advisory class of 1986. But hey; it was a reunion, after all. I had been a lot of things to the damned school; but these were my own classmates.
Of course, I brought my camera. Soon I was off to take pictures of former students from other classes; a few former players; and some people who I frankly didn’t even know existed on God’s earth.
Eventually, I did make my way forward to the front to sit with my advisory class. The way the banter went on, I could have been listening to high school kids all over again. And this was a group of 42-year old people that I was with…
For instance, I was encouraged to take a picture of two classmates from my homeroom; and would I please PhotoShop everyone else off from the picture, was somebody’s request. As you might have surmised, it was one of those high school love stories that eventually fell under the things-didn’t-work-out category.
I had been with the group for something like half-an-hour when my eyes suddenly focused on a distinguished looking middle-aged man with grey hair all over his head and a pair of spectacles sitting just a couple of feet away from where I sat.
Had he not been wearing the reunion shirt, I would have thought “priest.” Or insurance salesman… Or government clerk… Then, the processor belatedly matched the face with a name and I suddenly jumped up from off my seat and cried, “Jing!”
He was in my advisory class. So that explained why he sat with us… I had been helping myself to lavish amounts of Merlot and San Miguel, not to mention some Red Label; but I was still sober. I swear it’s an upgrade that I need.
The struggle was not all uphill, though. Thank God for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook! Of course, being the good former academician that I am, I had dutifully done a little research by looking up some profile pictures.
It’s a shame that some people use Disney Characters or Japanese animé as profile pics. The reason it’s called Facebook is for people to show their faces; and the picture that you use has immeasurable value for events such as reunions.
At any rate, I had a fabulous time. I arrived just as lanterns were being released into the night air. They looked lovely; albeit, I was half-expecting to hear the sirens of the fire trucks soon after.
The fireworks before the program, that was innovative. I mean, some people prefer the fireworks to culminate an event. Unfortunately, this also means after most everyone has already left.
The food was excellent; the company even better; and the members of the host class even managed to put together a song and a dance number. The part that I loved the most, however, was the audio-visual presentation of classmates and former teachers who had passed on into the afterlife. It was thoughtful, loving and appropriate.
There was spontaneous applause from the neutrals as the faces were flashed one at a time onto the big screen. Wherever they were, they couldn’t have failed to smile upon hearing the applause. They were reassured that they had not been forgotten.
I sneaked away just as the concert band was starting to play. Of course, I nodded mysteriously when some of my former students said that they wanted to see me dancing with them. Yeah, right. Me, dancing? Duh… Bring me a football, instead!
Truth be told, I was sleepy. Those who saw my cheeks flushed red, it wasn’t the spotlights at all. Besides, I had stayed longer than I ever did in a reunion. I needed the batteries recharged because the processor was working on overload for practically the entire night.
When I hit the sack, though, the last image flashed on the screen before shutdown was a five-letter word: H A P P Y.
Sitting with Legends: B-306 of the DLSL High School Class of 1986
1986: Random Recollections