I squinted at the message again through the other half of my bifocals. It had to be a typo. My high school graduating class is planning its 35th reunion already?
I counted on my fingers. Not enough. I leaned over to pull off my socks. Oof! Changed my mind and dug out the trusty TI-30 calculator from 10th grade algebra instead.
How could the battery be dead so soon?
"Terry!" I called out to my wife. "How long ago did I graduate from high school? Three years or four?"
"Are you sure it isn't four?"
"Your grandson is turning 4. You got the cap, gown and boot from Conneaut High 35 years ago."
So I've been out of school more than twice as many years as I was in. Funny, the school years felt like they dragged on twice as long as the last 35 did. Eighth grade alone lasted at least 10 years.
Gravitational pull must be speeding up clocks.
My thoughts drifted across the years. By the time I woke myself up snoring, I'd realized some startling facts:
Not once in those 35 years has any employer ever run up breathlessly to say the fate of the whole company hangs on my being able to figure out when a train leaving at 10:10 a.m. from Chicago and chugging west at 35 mph will pass a train departing from Los Angeles at 4:15 p.m. and charging east at 55 mph.
Never has an editor sprinted to my desk and shouted that a Pulitzer prize depends on my being able to diagram a sentence, including participles either dangling or snapped firmly into place.
And despite 12 years of threats from principals, no one ever demanded to see my permanent record to find out if I indeed missed five days in fourth grade or if it was six.
But I did learn to read, write and count steps on a football field while playing ''Philadelphia Freedom'' on the trombone.
I sighed and limped out to the computer.
"Must you always groan when you walk?" Terry asked.
"It's not groaning. It's a slow-moving vehicle warning."
I Googled some of the old gang. I mean, longstanding gang. Back then, anything called googling probably would get you slapped or punched. I studied Facebook photos of unrecognizable friends. Didn't they used to have hair? They looked so, I dunno, "mature."
Yet I look just the same as when I was 18. Except for the gray hair. And white beard. And thickened waist. And thickening of pretty much everything else, including ears and nose. Exactly the same. Only completely different.
We graduated with rock star ambitions. Now I sway more toward rocking chairs.
I noticed the drift in my dreams after my first child was born. By the time the first grandchild started running circles around me, my ambitions flowed comfortably more along the lines of train sets and Play-Doh. Family.
I'm looking forward to seeing all those old - er, longstanding - geezers after 35 years. It'll be nice to catch up with a bunch of slower-moving, slightly creased and crinkled kids who fit very nicely into adjusted dreams. Such as the one of remembering where that box of IcyHot patches is. Carrying around 35 years of memories aggravates the back pains.
---- Groan with the graybeard at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.