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This is why I hate reunions…

February 26, 2012

It took me about six days after high school graduation to start losing touch with my former classmates, and by the second month I had pretty much broken off all contact with the people who had been such a large part of my daily routine for four years of my adolescence.  It’s not that I started avoiding people intentionally, I just had other priorities once I was removed from the confines of the classroom.  I can barely remember the handful of kids (or should I say less than a handful) I had lunch with or argued with day in and day out, rendering the entire experience (which seemed so important back then) kind of meaningless in the long run.  If there is one piece of advise I would like to give to high school students it’s not to take the issues and dilemmas of high school too seriously, since you will forget it within hours of leaving the campus for the last time.

I currently live in the same city I attended high school in, so in the last few years I have on rare occasion run into an old classmate here and there.  The encounter usually doesn’t evoke more than a casual head nod and brief smile, signalling a recognition of some bygone acquaintance rather than any sentimental camaraderie.  Today was different however, as I accidentally ran into a more talkative member of my graduating class.

I was in downtown for my annual eye exam (I’ve already mentioned numerous before on this blog how much my eyes suck), when I decided to stop by in a takeout diner so I wouldn’t have to cook anything once I got home.  After I placed my order, got my receipt number, and motioned towards a table to wait for my food, a man seated near the center of the diner called me by name and waved for me to come join him at his table.  I recognized the guy as someone I spent four years of high school never talking to.  I didn’t have any antagonistic feelings towards him back then, we just never had a reason to communicate with one another; in fact, I was slightly surprised he even knew my name, both first and last.  Feeling a bit rushed, I hesitated walking over there, but I was gripped with a strange concern of not wanting the guy to look like a fool as he sat there calling to a person who couldn’t be bothered to answer.  So I went over to briefly say hello, with every intention of cutting it short as soon as my food was ready to go.

“Hi there,” he greeted me when I made it over to his table.

“What’s up?” I returned the gesture as we politely shook hands.

“Not much, not much.  Hey, you need a place to sit?  You’re welcome to join me.”

“Thanks, but I really need to get going as soon as I get my food.  I got an appointment I need to keep.”

“No kidding, with who?”

“My optometrist.  It’s just a regular eye exam, but I’d rather not miss it.”

“That’s cool.  So funny meeting like this, how many years has it been now?  You know we should get together some time and hang.”

“Definitely,” I lied.

“You on facebook?”

“Sure,” I lied again.

“All right, I’ll hit you up there once I get home and we can see when we can hang out together.”

“Sure thing,” I said as I knew he would spend five minutes of his life searching in vain for a profile that didn’t exist.

“Lots has happened since we last saw each other, right?  Hurricanes all over the place.  All sorts of shit to catch up on.  I mean even a black guy became President, can you believe that?”

I wasn’t really sure how to respond to that remark, so I quickly mumbled “Well, in politics anything is possible.”

“Absolutely…well…almost anything.”

“What’s the exception?”

“It’ll be a cold day in hell when a fag is elected, I’ll tell you that.”

“Really?” I said slowly, “how do you know we haven’t already had a closeted gay President?”

“Because I haven’t shot one yet.”

This is where I went silent for a moment.  [The reader can see that I didn’t miss out on anything by not bothering to get to know this guy back in high school.]

“You would kill a man just because you don’t like his sexual preference?” I finally said, choosing my words carefully.

“I’m just goofing around, quit being such a bitch.  When did you turn into a fag to get so offended by a joke,  anyway?”

“I’m not offended by jokes, not even by those kind of jokes.  I don’t think I would be offended by them even if I was gay, but the problem is that I don’t believe you were joking.  I think deep down–on some base level–you’re being dead serious, and that unsettles me–it frightens me–even if I am personally unaffected by your bigoted threat.”

My order was ready at this point, so I got up from the chair I had occupied next to my old classmate and turned to leave.  I didn’t bother to say goodbye (and neither did he).  I just got my food from the front counter and went out the door, evermore determined in my previous conviction that it’s best to avoid old acquaintances as much as possible.  I have no deeper philosophical musings about this encounter, I just honestly hope I never meet this man again.

From → Rants

  1. What an idiot. It’s good you told him some.. :)

    • Looking back, I think I went kind of easy on him, but the whole conversation took me by surprise and this is all I could come up with on the spot. It’s also unfortunate that in my part of the world (the American South) most people would (and do) side with his way of thinking. Homophobia is just something most of us around here are taught at a young age, and few give it a second thought (I’m ashamed to say that I had traces of it in my younger days, too, which took a while for me to first realize and then rid myself off the prejudice mindset).

  2. What else could you do? You didn’t like him in HS and apparently he hasn’t changed at all, or gotten worse to be saying that kind of thing in a public place.

    • The fact that we had never been close makes the whole thing even weirder for me. I mean, does this guy just bring up these sort of topics with anyone he happens to run into? It’s almost like he had been waiting all day to get it off his chest or something.

  3. Well I finally got to read this post which I had put aside for later the day it was published.
    One thing I’ve learned in my life is that people will surprise you for better or for worse. In some ways, reaching out to those you once new is a good thing cose of the memories these people invoke, but on the other hand meeting those you had little in common or simply you drew apart from it’s always awkward. As I mentioned in a post not long ago about turning 30 and making less friends and losing more than you ever had, I got to thinking that maybe it’s a good thing to let go, clean house as it were.
    Going back to your acquaintance from high school past, I’m surprised u were able to hold your sharp tongue way in, knowing how you like to use it as a double edge wit sword, but I guess not all are worth the effort. Considering my recent debacle with the guy I though I could at least learn something from as far as yoga and relaxation techniques of which I’m in so much need, it comes at no surprise at how fundamentally ignorant people are in most cases and as exception bigotry. Once again I must go with my own experience in saying that when it comes to homosexuality (or any other sexuality there might be) people are divided in 3 categories;

    1) Those who hate us
    2) Those who accept us but wish we were “different”, meaning why not chose another way to live my life
    3) Those who see us with pity, as if we were diseased little birds who don’t know any better but continuously fly into a plaid glass window choosing to wither and die by default.

    The most simple basic human truth is we’re not accepting beings. With “we” I include myself as well. We always have issues with those different from us and none of us are immune to judgement and thus to responsive behavior to that judgement. The difference is, how far would you go to make sure your unwillingness to accept differences and diversity is turned into a proving point to yourself and to those around you….

    • “I’m surprised u were able to hold your sharp tongue way in, knowing how you like to use it as a double edge wit sword, but I guess not all are worth the effort.”

      I think I may have been caught off guard by his bluntness, because I’m used to people trying to soften their bigotry and dance around what they really want to say. This guy didn’t give a shit, despite the fact that (as I mention in the post) we were never close friends, or even casual friends (we were merely former classmates, who had a passing acquaintance with one another). As I commented above, I feel like I should have said more than I did (though I’m not sure what I could say to him, or what my end goal would be were I to come across him again).

      “The difference is, how far would you go to make sure your unwillingness to accept differences and diversity is turned into a proving point to yourself and to those around you….”

      I submit the majority of human history as Exhibit A in this trial of mankind’s moral conscience.

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