On High School Nostalgia and Music for the Dying

Chang chang changitty chang shoobop/The pipes, the pipes are calling

11/30/2016 07:30pm

I was reminded that last Friday was my twenty fifth high school reunion. Go I did not! Why would I? Reunions are, after all, quite stupid. I mean, if I was interested in getting together with any of the people with whom I attended high school, there would be no reason to reunite with them – because they’d still be in my life! But they are not. And they have not been for many a year. In fact, the longest contact I had with anyone from those days lasted until around the August following graduation. Then I went off to college and the next time I would have any interaction with that individual would be some two and a half decades later when he located me through a certain professional networking site. That’s really the only way someone from my past can find me. I do not participate in Facebook or Myspace or any of those other silly social media things and I live more than two thousand miles away from where I grew up, returning to visit on only the most infrequent of occasions. This greatly minimizes the chances I will run into old friends or acquaintances. I rather prefer it this way.

I really do not understand the nostalgia so many people exhibit for their high school days. It seems rather depressing that those four short and fairly insignificant years would be the best days of one’s life. Yet so many feel compelled to continually talk about their so-called glory days when everything was supposedly so fucking wonderful, the pinnacle of their lives, when everyone was a star athlete or a cheerleader or held some prestigious yet utterly meaningless position on the student council. I’ve even witnessed such people pulling out the ol’ year book to gleefully read the idiotic messages their dipshit classmates wrote to them on graduation day. Some of those people have even been known to attend class reunions as often as every five years – if you can believe that! Hell, my own spouse was recently lamenting how she was unable to attend her fifteenth last year. Her high school claims to have the oldest and most active alumni association in the United States – a rather audacious claim that I have not had a chance to fact-check with the Bureau of High School Alumni Association Activity and Longevity Statistics. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were true though. She comes from a shit fuck old mill town in northern New Hampshire where the local Walmart Supercenter is the main employer (the Mills having closed down more than half a century or so ago) and there isn’t a whole lot to do other than participate in the alumni association and get addicted to heroin.

Perhaps I might feel differently about my high school years had I been captain of the football team. Had I dated the homecoming queen. Had I been one of the popular kids. But I wasn’t. In fact –

When I was seventeen

It was a very bad year

It was a very bad year for a pimpled faced kid

From whom the girls ran and hid

They called me a fat fuck

It really did suck

When I was seventeen

No, those certainly were not the best years of my life, though I actually think it would be really pathetic if they were. I’ve evolved quite a bit as a person since 1991. I lost much of my fat fuckedness. My skin isn’t quite as bad. I developed different interests, became motivated by different things. And I certainly don’t listen to the fucking Doors anymore (no kids, Jim Morrison wasn’t deep – he was a whiny, pretentious, self-obsessed little bitch who wrote shitty, amateurish poetry that was set to even shittier music)! I’ve gotten myself a degree, developed a career, lived in multiple states. I’ve met many different people from many different places. And I’ve had assorted life changing experiences. I resemble little of the person I was as a teenager, a person to whom I surely could not relate if I met him today. And if I can’t relate to my seventeen year old self, I certainly would not have been able relate to those jackasses who went to the reunion last Friday night, even if I did spend ninth through twelfth grade with them!

Anyway, as I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, my old friend and classmate found me on a professional networking site a year or so ago and sent me a connection invite. It was accompanied by a message suggesting that he may have been looking to reconnect on a social level. Having not seen or talked to him in so long, I was at quite a loss as to what I possibly could write to him in reply. After laboring over it for a bit, I decided to just say nothing and accept his invite. I thought nothing further of it. Then six months later he sent me another message, this time asking for my Facebook and email information and expressing interest in my input on our upcoming twenty five year reunion. Apparently he was on the planning committee. And apparently he was hoping I would be as well.

Now, were I a more rational human being, I probably would have simply told my old pal that I was not interested. But I’m not. And so I exploded with venom and rage and began composing a most caustic reply to tell him just what a fucking loser I thought he was for not being able to move past high school. To criticize him for what I felt to be an inadequate work history since graduating from college (especially that stint he spent working at a grocery store in the early 2000’s). To call his sexuality into question, speculating that he must be some kind of homosexual (probably infected with the AIDS virus) (not that there’s anything wrong with it) as no self-respecting man could possibly want to be part of a reunion planning committee unless he suffered an insatiable craving for male genitalia and the bodily fluids emanating therefrom. And to rebuke him and the rest of his peers for their limited world view and for being too goddamn scared to move more than five miles from the fucking home where they were raised – a common characteristic of those who originate from the part of the country where I grew up. I guess I must have come to my senses though as, not long after completing this lengthy and painstakingly-detailed dissertation, I opted to delete it without sending. Looking back, I’m glad I did. After all, this had been a good friend of mine and Lord knows I didn’t have a whole lot of those when I was I high school.

While I prudently declined to relay the previously described sentiments to my erstwhile companion, I nonetheless continued to seethe for a bit at his insinuation that I would want any part in planning for, or even attending, the reunion. I was especially irked by the arrogance he displayed in referencing three other committee members in his message – by first name only – expecting me to know who the fuck they were after twenty five years! Truth-be-told, I actually did recognize one of the names as she was the girl that looked like Molly Ringwald (back in the days when people actually knew who Molly Ringwald was), a dead ringer in fact. I’ve drawn a complete blank on one of the other individuals and have absolutely no recollection of anyone with her name. The third person had a first name shared by at least two dozen girls in our graduating class.

For whatever reason, I was zapped by an unusual spark of curiosity that had me pulling up the alumni page on my high school’s website to try and figure things out. I still have no idea who the person with the unrecognized name is. I did, however, manage to figure out the one with the popular name. She appears to be quite active in the alumni association and the website actually had a link to an article written about her in a very well-known publication. It seems that, after graduating college, she became something called a “music thanatologist”. And not only is she a music thanatologist, she’s the preeminent music thanatologist in the entire fucking world!  The music thanatologist of all music thanatologists! She’s written books on the subject. She’s President of the International Order of Music Thanatology Practitioners. The Warren Buffet of music thanatologists, if you will. In music thanatology circles she’s considered a god(dess)!

So what in fuck is music thanatology, you ask? That was my exact question! And so I read the rest of the article and found that it is the practice of playing music for the terminally ill as they pass away. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I thought, “This broad actually makes a living playing the goddamn flute for people while they die?” I guess the image of people being lulled into death with music automatically brought the Pied Piper to mind. This turned out to be an ignorant assumption on my part as music thanatologists actually play the harp. Either way, I couldn’t imagine anything they played would be what I’d want filling my ears during my final moments. I envisioned it to be something along the lines of that new age shit they play at a spa – you know, that awful music that lets you know the place is legit so you best not even think to ask for anything extra at the end of your massage. Still curious, I pulled up some YouTube videos and, I must say, what I heard was actually quite different from that. This so-called music was not your standard melody and rhythm. Rather, it was some sort of potent aural narcotic, one that had me slouching back in my seat, my eyelids drooping, my body and mind in a state of utter submission, ready to surrender my soul to whatever entity, evil or divine, cared to ask for it. This shit is pure evil! They say it was Lucifer that invented music and from listening to those particular notes and chords ringing out from the harp strings, I have no doubt about that. I also have no doubt that it’s music thanatology, not a pitchfork, that he uses to pull the souls of the weak into hell with him. Evil, evil stuff. Although I could not find any video interviews with my old schoolmate online, I did come across quite a few with other practitioners of this black art. All of these individuals were substantially similar in demeanor – slow and soft spoken freaks with distinctively crazy eyes that suggested their audiences may not have died of exactly natural causes.  Unless, of course, a pillow over the face is considered a natural cause these days.

It surely didn’t take discovering that an agent of the Devil was on the planning committee to dissuade me from attending my class reunion. That decision was made back in May of 1991 when I took my diploma and vowed to never look back. It does, however, sure make me glad that I didn’t share my personal information (I certainly don’t need to wake up one night to the sound of harp strings outside my window calling me into the arms of Satan). I won’t lie though. When they publish the next issue of the alumni magazine in the spring, I will certainly check out the online version to have a look at the photographs from that night. Admittedly what I hope to see are wrinkled faces, bald heads, bloated guts, sad forced smiles, though I’d probably be equally happy to see nothing and find out that the reunion was cancelled on account of too many people having too much dignity to attend.

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