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  • Writer's pictureGary Gruber

The Story Behind the Stories (Part Ten)

My high school graduating class of 1967 has proven to be unusually cohesive after all these years. While I did not attend the tenth reunion (it was too soon for me, I still had unpleasant memories I did not care to rehash so soon), I was there for the 20th, 30th, 40th, and 50th. As I have heard it said, Time wounds all heels. And most of the people I resented deeply for one reason or another had matured and moved on from the silliness of our teen years.

We had one cast-in-stone rule for conversation at the two-day event – no politics. This was good. It prevented the petty bickering that would have occurred had the other 200 plus classmates discovered that three of us were conservatives. There is nothing more inane than having someone spout gibberish about this or that, and you try to stand there and smile while you want to take the horizontal knife belt you’re wearing out of its sheath and start cleaning your fingernails to make a point.

One of my friends does have a different set of political views. We mutually decided over 40 years ago to axe any kind of partisan talk from our conversations. A wonderful thing happened. Our friendship was built on what we shared in common and blossomed to a point that I would gladly lay down my life for him or any of his family members.

This was a magnificent learning moment -- from that minute on I tried to impart this to other friends who have a different vision for the country than I do. Most of the times it has not worked – those friends thought it so important that we speak cogently about what was happening right now in the White House, that nothing else could have any significance. This grew tiresome and we grew apart quickly.

Even at lunch, events outside the venue of the reunion, one or more of my classmates would have his mouth full of a corned beef sandwich and blurt out ‘TRUMP!’ (with a precisely processed ball of rye bread, corned beef, and mustard), in an attempt to either find those who agreed with him, or locate those unaffiliated few that could then be mercilessly hounded and despised --and held in contempt for at least the rest of eternity.

I never took the bait. “Pass the fried rice” I exclaimed at one luncheon when this behavior held sway. I was determined to focus on what we had in common, not the things that pushed us apart. So far, except for this one life-long friend, I have failed about 90% of the time. The people on one side of the field have their priorities aligned and are as rigid as a piece of rebar in concrete. Oh well…

So, here are five us, walking the top of the dike in Kirby Park, sharing stories, telling jokes, having a good time when I see this bent over, over size woman, stuck in a stretch that even I would have a hard time recovering from. My buds were so immersed in their stories that they walked right past her, missing the flat out hilarity of the moment. I just stood there, maybe 10 feet away and fired of 3 or 4 frames quietly.

Good for her! Get out and get some exercise. Get the heart pumping, the adrenalin flowing, all of the good stuff we should be doing on a regular basis to try and be fit, and work off the occasional slice of hot fudge ice cream cake that got her into this dilemma in the first place.

My first stop this fall if our planned 55th reunion bears fruit will be a quick hike back to this marker to see if she managed to pull herself out of the stretch and back up on her feet. If not, I’m sure she will be ripe for another photo. Stay tuned…

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