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Posted by Rob Sherwood   •   Monday, 2011-July-25 • 21:30
I missed every High School Class Reunion in the 107 years since I left old Cloquet High on Carlton Avenue. I managed to make it back for the 100th Anniversary of the school, along with a couple of thousand others in 1997. I woman was there from the Class of 1915. Or maybe she just attended the school in 1915. Whatever, she was no spring chicken. Anyway, my record of Reunion attendance was sketchy. Late last year I got a call asking me if I were the Fenton Barley Terpenskaya who attended Cloquet High School (I used an alias from grade 3 to grade 12) I lied and said I had never heard of such a person. A few minutes later, being assured they weren't going to make me pay to cover up some graffiti in the boy's room on the 2nd floor, I owned up to my true identity (Nikita Perez)and agreed to receive all the information concerning the big class reunion coming up in July of 2011. In due time, the info arrived and I put it in the "important papers-pending" stack and got back to trying to spend myself into the poor house.

In the back of my mind, I knew that I had an event coming up in the summer of 2011. As the winter snows melted, a friend asked me if I was going to my High School Reunion. He wasn't just being nosy. His sister, Karen, was a class-mate of mine and his curiosity was actually his sister's. I told him (and he relayed it to Karen) that I was going. Indeed. I had every good intention.

On April 15, 2011, all day I had a strange sense that I should be putting something in the mail. The feeling passed and it wasn't until early May that I ran across the "important papers-pending" stack. To my horror, I had missed the sign-up cut-off deadline, April 15, 2011. I KNEW that date had some significance. To be honest I wasn't all that worried because I figured if I called, they'd cut me some slack...and I had plenty of time (months) to take care of it. By the way, I also got a nasty note from the Internal Revenue Service but I'll save that story for another time.

Jump ahead to the 4th of July. I was visiting my nephew's family in the Twin Cities when I was reminded of the pending reunion. My Class Reunion. In JUNE!!! Damn!!! I missed it. Crap! (I might have used the "F" word but these are children of the 50's and we didn't "F" this and "F" that.

Leap forward with me to July 23rd, Saturday morning when I was jarred from a dream that Joe Friday was sitting on my sofa by class-mate Karen's younger brother.

"Where were you?" "You must go to the dinner tonight." yadayadayada. I thought I had missed it. My reply. I don't have a thing to wear. Nobody will miss me, I'm sure. yadayadayada. The phone calls ended with the basic, I'll think about it.

Now I was haunted. It wasn't so much that I wanted to attend the reunion; it seemed like attending was my sworn duty. If I didn't show up I'd be making a statement I really didn't want to make. I needed a haircut, I hadn't done laundry in a month, I ate salted-in-the-shell peanuts the night before and was retaining water....I had many reasons miss it. The voices argued in my brain and even a Prozac double-dose didn't ease the anxiety. By noon, I called Karen and told her I would be there...probably. By 1PM I had called the head of the committee to tell her "I had thought it was in June" and if it was permitted, I would be there. By 2PM I was at JCPenney's buying some clean socks and underwear. At 5:55PM, I arrived at the Cloquet Country Club, wrote a check for $30 and the odyssey was complete.

I have so much to write about that evening (which lasted until 2:45am) and how happy I am that some people cared enough to get me there. Although I wouldn't have realized it, I almost missed a really wonderful experience. I got to spend some conversation time with people I haven't talked to in 40-50 years. I saw many people I would have loved to spend an entire dinner with and only got to do a little cocktail party "Hi..great to see you". I realized that the kids I went to school with turned out OK. Thoreau and I were wrong. The mass of men DON'T live lives of quiet desperation. Few of the gang at my Class Reunion will ever read this, but for those who do, it was great seeing you. I wish I had more time to chat and if you ever feel like carrying on a colloque, I'm game. I now know why I spent so much time hanging out with Terry M. and why I have had decades of good memories of the plays I was in with Sharon M. I hardly got to talk to Tim S. but he should know I appreciate how he tried to get me to do my homework. Neil B. actually had read this Blog and website, so he gets high marks. There were many more and I hate that I'm not mentioning everyone. All the nice comments, are so damn appreciated, I will live on them for months.

It could have been better, though. Next Reunion, I suggest that I sit on a raised dais at the head of the room and spend the evening talking about myself. I'll even leave time for questions. Five years, right?
  1. designsrvs wrote on 2011-July-30 07:22:21:
    Glad I had a little to do in getting you there. The grapevine told me you held court wherever you went and were the belle of the ball. I have a reunion next week and am at best ambivalent about getting there. Hope to see you before the next opera season.
  2. cindic wrote on 2011-July-31 18:16:32:
    My 40th is coming up in October. I haven't made it to any of 'em. I did drive near the old high school last week. The building is still standing and I'm glad that I can, too.
  3. MBiolo wrote on 2011-August-03 06:27:53:
    Good to have you back!

    I've been to a couple of my renunions, though I did miss the last. Which one would that have been . . .? No matter, it's only been a couple hundred years since high school. And my old high school (Abbot Pennings) closed almost 20 years ago. It was a small, Catholic boys school in an old building on the St. Norbert college campus. Appropro since going to school at APHS was pretty much like going to high school at Animal House. The most amazing (and entertaining) thing about our reunions is how quickly a group of seemingly successful (well, at least not criminal) men can revert to being high school sophomores. Takes about one beer and a nanosecond to get into that mode.

    So, is there a new chapter of "My Story" in the offing?? It's only been almost a year since the last effort!
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