Written by Howard Blankman, PortWashington@antonnews.com Wednesday, 31 July 2013 00:00
Imagine this: You’re in your mid-to-late 50s — closer to 60 than you would like to be. The exigencies of making a decent living have made shadows of friends and colleagues with whom you traveled from teenage to the cusp of adulthood. But that’s why you’re here at this very place at this very time, isn’t it?
You step inside the front door not knowing quite what to expect. But once you reach the large, wood-trimmed dining room straight ahead, you’re all smiles. And smiles are what you get as you sign in for the 40th reunion of the Schreiber High School Class of 1973 on July 20 at the Port Washington Yacht Club.
Next, you move to the table to your right where one of the reunion’s chief honchos has drafted her husband and another classmate’s husband (both ‘71 Schreiber graduates) to man the registration tables. You get your name badge, which displays your name and ‘73 graduation photo. You look at the latter and wonder to yourself if you were ever really that young.
Moving on, as you recognize your classmates or they, you, the happy handshakes and hugs begin. You stake yourself to a beer, a glass of wine or something nonalcoholic. The cash bar doesn’t bother you. But when the guy standing next to you raises an eyebrow in dissent, you remind him that it’s only fair. Why should anybody who doesn’t drink have to pick up the tab for someone who does, anyway? Besides, it keeps down the cost of what you do share.
Drink in hand, you’re ready to meet and greet. But first, surrounded by an expanse of glass, you’re momentarily mesmerized by an eye-catching sunset over Manhasset Bay with its hues of red, near-violet pink and orange.
You can’t help noticing how warm and welcoming everything looks. The medium-blue tablecloths are accented by evenly-spaced, perfectly-folded white napkins. At the center of each table, a foot-high white lighthouse, encircled by flickering tea lights sits on a round mirror — all at once, elegant and simple.
As hors d’oeuvres are passed, you try each kind, being careful to leave room for the sumptuous buffet that you can’t wait to dig into. You are grateful not to be confronted by a block-long, food-laden buffet table and a twice-as-long line of inpatient diners waiting to be served. Instead, you’re happy to pick and choose casually at one of a number of smaller food stations. “For coming up with that splendid idea,” you say to a classmate standing by, “The management of the Yacht Club should be knighted by the Queen. To which you hastily add, — “If Americans had a Queen, of course.”
To your delight, there are no organized group activities, so you can speak with whomever you chose whenever you want. You have your choice of gabbing with old friends and getting to know some you just never got around to knowing while attending Schreiber.
There is music, of course, and one of your classmates notes, “It’s just like it was back then, the girls all danced and the boys sat around — except for one or two.” One of your female classmates says, “I think the men have changed a lot more than the women. The biggest change is the hair. It is funny to see the long-haired boys and short-haired men.” You stifle a laugh.
150 of your class of 450 have come from all points of the compass to enjoy one more night of classmate togetherness. Is it worth it? There’s proud unanimity in the answer: Thanks to a great reunion committee, the experience has exceeded expectations. You’d like to stay longer, but it’s 1 a.m. and Morpheus beckons. You make your goodbyes and promise to keep in touch. As the door closes behind you, it hits you: the realization that as you grow older, so does everyone else. Class reunions give you a rare opportunity to have another look. That’s a good thing.