The Avondale High School Class of 1965 is nationally unheralded but I am confident is the best graduating class in America for that decade by any measure: size, sports championships, SAT scores, musical talent, cheerleading, admissions to Ivy League schools and Dekalb College, numbers of lawyers, convictions, recidivism, weight gain, and football games lost by one point. Truth be known, the movie “American Graffiti” was probably modeled after us. I can identify multiple classmates that correspond to archetype characters in that movie.
So, our upcoming 55th-anniversary celebration should be over the top and a model for other schools to follow. We have a planning committee, chaired ably by the Queen Mother of the Class of 65, Kay Connelly. Bruce Mather and Marc Jordan are President and Exchequer, respectively, and Pat Maddox is our Margaret Thatcher.
As a Methodist clergy in our class, I have been asked to conduct a service of remembrance for those passed on. More about that in the coming weeks through mailings to classmates still among the living. There is hardly a week that goes by that Kay doesn’t have to report the death of one of us in our “A-Mail” newsletter.
But the obits phase of our lives is paradoxical to our chronological phase. You see, as an amateur gerontologist, I know we are in our early ’70s, which is still viewed as middle-aged, which starts in our mid-thirties. We don’t encounter old age until the early to mid-’80s. So, I am suggesting to the Reunion Planning Committee that the reunion this Fall be organized around – NOT obits- but PREBITS. Prebits are things that happen to us at our age and how we typically report on them to each other. So, let’s organize our thoughts ahead of the Big Event.
Here is my list of suggestions:
- Raise money to reprint the “AVONUES-65” class yearbook to include our 1965 photos, but replace the content under the picture with a list of our top three chronic diseases, the number of meds we are taking, most complicated surgery we have endured, joint replacements, and support groups we are members of. We could also have links to pix and videos of grands, great grands, and our favorite French bulldog who recently had to be put to sleep.
- Start a list serve now of cemeteries where we plan to be buried. My wife and I took advantage of a sale by one local but prominent graveyard that opened a new section and enticed us with a curbside locale (avoids muddy treks at graveside if it rains at the time of internment), a 3-graves-for the price-of two and perpetual green fee to manage weeds and control fire ants…3 for 2?… Is someone contemplating celestial threesomes? A heavenly fantasy if I’ve ever had one! Gives fresh meaning to “resurrection morning”… Yes, I am clergy- just hope God thinks this is funny. We already have a headstone with a couple of fill-in-the-blanks at our cemetery plot.The listserve for the gravesite address warrants explanation: I suggest we approach APPLE and Verizon to donate a smartphone, earbuds to be tucked under our folded hands as we lie in repose, to load up our favorite 60’s-70’s greatest hits on a perpetual loop, leaving the capability for messages to us from a celestial “friends and family plan” as well as the speed dial line from the call of St Peter to tell us we are next for consideration– kinda like a divine DMV mechanism.
- During Reunion Weeks, we ask a classmate who does ceramics to conduct a class called, “Making an Ash of Yourself” to show us how to make our own cremation urns, with Avondale Flying A logo. Cremation requires an adaptation of the APPLE and Verizon alternative, but we work that out, I’m sure…
- Have a photo contest where everyone tries to identify us by scans and Xrays that we send in. Not everyone will probably want to participate, I realize.
- Create a lottery around the last living classmate and the year they die. Proceeds go to a yet to be named scholarship program. Such an event is typically called a graveside service, but we could jazz it up a bit.
- Approach diaper companies about embossing the Avondale Flying A on adult diaper underwear and catheter bags- even condoms for those aficionados that still participate..
- Introduce a trademark cocktail composed of vodka and Metamucil with a PBR chaser, which we will all drink at the big event and be ready to bottle and distribute widely thereafter. Proceeds, again, for scholarships. We could have a name the cocktail contest for great publicity… I suggest “The Blue Devil Pile Driver” to get the ball rolling. Sweet tea and Coca Cola available as well.
- Your favorite Cialis photo of you and your significant other in two bathtubs facing some bucolic scene together (remember black strips across certain parts). I envision a photography art exhibit at the event that might have a touring potential to museums. We can brand it “AVONUDES- The Continued Rise of the Class of 65”
- Kay will say more later, but BBQ is the main course menu, but this time you can order regular or pureed (or mousse) for those with digestive or teeth/gum issues. We will all want to hear about whatever acid reflux or loose bowels this creates for you.
- Small group discussions at timed round tables, on the state of your various organs (called “Organ Recitals” which we all love to hear about) (See my book HALLOWED GROUND on the chapter about the popularity of organ recitals), foot pain, sores that won’t heal, kids that won’t grow up, botox that went awry, internet scams that we fell for, the heartbreak of psoriasis, unresolved anger toward past somebodies that done us wrong, the reaction you had to your flu shot, one-upmanship on surgery complications, and your indignity over your kids trying to take your car keys away over three fender benders with no loss of life involved– ALL very legitimate PREBIT agenda material, I admit…
OR, as an alternative to the above PREBIT fodder for the 55th reunion, we could all get together and laugh about the good times, wipe our sweat over juvenile detention or pregnancy scares we dodged. Remember the best teachers fondly and tell each other how that teacher changed your life forever. Tell each other how much we mean to each other over the years, remember passed friends and loved ones, speak of new hobbies, careers, love interests, causes you have become committed to…. and drink wine….and pray for a good old age ahead of us and for those who really suffer and need comfort if healing isn’t possible… and a commitment to maintain closer touch and really do something about staying engaged with each other.
And hope for a great Avondale Class of 65 Reunion in the SKY in the sweet bye and bye, where someday we will all finally be recognized in front of our Maker and the universe for our great achievements — and forgiven our hubris and our shortcomings.
Looking forward to seeing you all this fall…Make your plans and reservations now. Press welcomed!