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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 07.23.04
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Has it really been 20 years?

STANSTEAD, QC | Dear Class of '84, as your valedictorian, I'm sure you're asking yourselves two questions: first, "Didn't you do time?" and second, "What pearls of wisdom can you offer us twenty years after giving a rousing valedictory speech that still rings mightily through the corridors of John Hugh Gillis Regional High School?"

I'm glad you asked. I only wish I could be there in person to share my thoughts as you enjoy our 20-year reunion this weekend. Unfortunately, work considerations and a restraining order prevent me from attending.

I avoided our 10-year reunion because I felt it was too soon for nostalgia. It was also too soon to have an excuse for having forgotten everyone's name.

But twenty years is an ideal time to take stock of our lives. By now, we have all established careers, gotten married, had children, and done our first stint in rehab. It's a fine point in our lives to ask ourselves "Where have I been?", "Where am I going?" and "Should I consider implants?"

After all, the purpose of these reunions is not merely to get together with old friends and resurrect past triumphs and humiliations (such as the time Billy McGillis poured corn chowder down the back of my pants just as I was asking Melinda Margolian to the prom, for which I shall be avenged… oh yes, I shall…). It is also an opportunity to demonstrate that, despite all expectations that we would lead a life of lonely celibacy, we were actually capable of finding a spouse without resorting to Uzbekistan mail-order marriage agencies. In other words, it is a time for gloating.

For example, I was a skinny geek in high school, forever intimidated by the buff hockey jocks who stole lunches and girlfriends and did unspeakable things with ketchup packets. Now, were I to show up for my reunion, I could in theory approach Goomer MacDonald and announce, "Hah! In your face, you muscle-gone-to-fat beer-bellied Neanderthal! How's that hockey career now, eh? Eh! Check this out: Still skinny. Watch me eat this buffet and not gain an ounce. Hoo-ha!" But no. That would be improper and not in keeping with the Class of '84 camaraderie we cherish so. Instead, I would simply make sure I stood in profile a lot, looking smug.

Of course, reunions are not just about comparing looks. Life is about more than such superficialities. There is also comparing income. The phrase "Yes, but I don't have the stress of the rat race" will be uttered frequently.

There will also be other revelations. For instance, it is statistically likely that some of us have chosen lifestyles that would have been taboo in the conservative teen climate of high school. Yes, some of us will be lawyers.

A reunion is a chance to make such disclosures as we look at the world of our teens from an adult perspective. I, for instance, could now confess to Janet Chesterfield that the reason I failed Grade 10 chemistry was because I spent all my time staring at her Bunsen burners. Others among us may approach our former classmates, look them straight in the eye and say, "I have no recollection of you whatsoever."

Mostly, though, we'll trade stock tips.

Oh, how I wish I could be there to play "My Child is Smarter Than Yours." But alas it is not to be. I will be able only to presume my child is smarter than yours.

And so, what pearls of wisdom can I offer? In my valedictory address I stated "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." With that in mind, twenty years later, Class of '84, I offer you this thought: "Lather. Rinse. Repeat."

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