Back to School

Continuing on my 20-year Mira Mesa High School reunion... I ran into Sebastian, who was in my kindergarten class. He was with his wife, and as we were chatting about the recent Beatles show LOVE, which we had both seen in Vegas, a guy walked by and said, "Where are all the Filipinos? I know we had a lot more at our school. Why don't I see them here?"

My friend David, a book publisher, was with his pregnant wife. We joked about how many people would be rubbing her belly. "Why didn't you bring your wife?" David asked another one of our friends. Our friend said, "Then it's just like bumping into people at a dinner party."

When I sat down at my table, Ray, who was the center on our basketball team, walked by. He went on to play a few years in the NFL. He's about 6'5". I stuck my elbow on the table with my hand up and said, "Ray, I got $25 says I can beat you arm wrestling." He said, "You probably can now."

I asked him if he had a good football story. He told me about catching a touchdown pass against the Jets. "Did you save the football?" I asked him. He said he didn't, and David interjected, "Yeah, well, you probably spiked it and did some dance. Once you do that, you can't go back and say, 'Oh, wait, I want that football back. I'm going to keep it.'" Ray thought about it and said, "Actually, I just assumed there would be a lot more. There weren't."

Ray's a cop these days, and I asked him if he was packing. "I always have my gun with me. It's like that King Stahlman bail-bonds place says: It's better to have it and not need it than to not have it when you do."

Ray hung out with a guy named Kerry. I remember being a bit bummed when Kerry transferred to our school from Morse High. He ended up coming off the bench and getting a lot more minutes then I ever did. Ray and I talked about the food while we waited at the bar. I told him that I was on a diet. Ray said, "Obviously, you can see I'm not!"

I saw two other guys from my basketball team. One teaches law at UCLA. When I approached him, he glanced at my nametag. I stretched it toward him and pointed to my name.

He was with a guy we called Whitey. His real name was Jim, but there was a time he and I were playing two-on-two against these black guys and when introductions were made after the game, Jim said, "You can just call me Whitey." The name stuck.

I ran into Whitey on Venice Beach a few years back, and I couldn't help but notice that he looked like he came to the reunion from the beach. He wore sandals and no tie, his hair in a ponytail. Someone at my table told me that Whitey got busted going into Disneyland with pot on grad night. I asked him about the "magic kingdom" and he said, "I was trying to bring in a lot more than pot. It sucked because I had to spend the rest of the night on the bus."

A few people approached me who I couldn't remember. One woman said, "Josh, you were so bright back then." My buddy Joe said, "Are you sure you're not thinking of another Josh?"

I was surprised when I ran into Jessika. She was a short, pudgy girl in one of my classes who didn't talk much. She turned out drop-dead gorgeous and was with a tall guy who resembled a Latino George Clooney. He's a school principal and she's a teacher in Northern California. It said in our program that she likes to run. That'll cure pudginess.

The DJ played '80s hits that we grew up with, and the music didn't drown us out as we talked. A red-haired surfer named Tim came over to our group. He had Band-Aids on his face and told us he had skin cancer. "All those years surfing with no sunscreen finally caught up with me," Tim explained. When someone brought up how much pot Tim smoked and how much school he ditched, Tim, who has a successful computer business today, said, "It's funny. Everyone said it would be all the geeks who would be successful, that we'd be losers. Now, we're successful and they're still geeks."

There were a couple women in the hallway who were getting plastered. I overheard one of them say, "I'm not gonna say my age." I thought, A reunion is the one place you can't lie about your age. I found out that they weren't from our school. One guy said, "They're ten years older. They're cougars looking for young meat." One of them then kicked her high heels off and ran screaming down the hall.

I ran into a guy named Alan who I used to talk NBA with. It was funny to find out that he no longer hated the Lakers -- he was a fan. I still like the same things I liked in high school -- bands, sports teams -- but that didn't seem to be the case with others. Scott, the lawyer, was a big Beastie Boys fan. They showed film clips of the air bands, and Scott was one of the Beasties. When I told him about a Beasties show I saw at the Greek in L.A., he said, "I'm off the Beasties bandwagon. I'm not a rap fan anymore. I lost interest when it went into all that gangsta stuff. I have indie bands on my iPod now."

I found Barbi from my journalism class. We used to flirt. A few years after high school, a buddy convinced me to call her. We were drunk and it was midnight, but we found the number she left in my yearbook. She had married a guy that was a grade above us. I ran into her at a bank a few years after that and she already had three kids. Surely, she'd be divorced by now...not that I was rooting for that.

Barbi was still married to the guy, but we talked for a while. She punched my arm when I made fun of some of our classmates.

The Marriott ballroom kicked us out, and we all went up to the rooms our classmates had booked. A few were drunk. When anyone left, we'd yell out the window to them.

I thought two things: guests in adjacent rooms might be trying to sleep at 2:00 a.m., and have we not grown up since high school?

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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