My 20th High School Reunion happens this summer back in my hometown on Long Island. This is chilling in several thousand ways. Though I am unable to attend, the fact that it's happening inspired me to connect with the most important people in my life from that time...my theater friends.
Here is the letter that I just wrote to them. Nerd power!!
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What with the Class of 1990's 20th Reunion coming soon (holy crap!!), and seeing as I'm not going to be able to be there, it got me thinking a lot about our days at SHS. While things like Facebook can make every single day feel like something of a forced reunion, that's sort of a different conversation. In truth, there's nothing like a good dose of physical presence to remind us that our bodies are shaped somewhat differently now, and that more of certain people's scalps is currently visible than was the case in 1990. Don't be offended, baldies; I speak only of myself in that regard, of course.
In any event, I wanted to reach out to this group of people primarily because, and I don't think I'm exaggerating, the theater and performing arts are what brought us all together in the first place - or was, at the very least, the glue that held us together. It is with both a sense of pleasure and a sense of shame that I think about the day back in 10th grade when I put on a necktie and visited Mr. H's office in the Little Theater to "announce my availability" for "upcoming projects." Of course it is with great pride that I remember being "hired" (as I told my parents - I still tell my parents that!) to play the role of Frank Sterling in that true American classic, "The Creature Creeps." As a person who has made a living on-stage in the intervening years, I can tell you that it was easily my finest work. And that's only barely a joke.
For me, gathering with a group of intelligent, articulate, versatile...well, let's face it, "nerds" was, sort of oxymoronically, the epitome of cool. It was the first time I'd ever felt like I was a part of a community, a unique component of something larger than myself. It was the first time I was able to place myself, to define myself as a necessary part of a process. In a weird way, it was a crash course in Democracy. In our nerdy innocence, we didn't know to think of one thing as being more valuable than another, or to worry too much about the relative quality of what we were doing - it was enough that we were doing it at all. It was enough that we did it together.
This was both a gift and a curse. It was a gift because of you – the friends I made - and the excellent times we had together. It was a curse because I loved working in our suburban High School circus so much that I ultimately ran away with the circus. The experience of that is, again, probably sort of a different conversation.
Regardless, I write to you now to thank you for being friends with me at a time when I needed friends most desperately. Thank you for the gift of shelter from the buffeting surf of adolescence. Thank you for sharing your gifts in the plays that we worked on together. Thank you for being excellent people I will remember fondly for the rest of my days, whether we're in contact regularly, or if I just read about your commute or your children on Facebook. In terms of a life in the theater, thank you for ruining my life - in the best possible way!!
To conclude, I'd just like to let folks know that I've started a new, non-profit theater company...with my nerdy friends. What's that you say? Starting a non-profit arts organization in the nation's most precarious state in the middle of the Great Depression? Ha! As Monty Python taught us to say, "I fart in your general direction!!" There couldn't be a better time: the nation needs excellent theater now more than ever. In High School, the theater felt like a warm hug. And, let's be honest, a warm hug from a bespectacled bald man is exactly what you all want. Admit it.
Oh, and speaking of Facebook, the company's on there, too:
Drop by! Become a fan!
This bespectacled bald man misses you. If you're going to the reunion, have a drink for me. If not, well, still have a drink for me. In the comfort and privacy of your own home.