Monday, August 08, 2016

Class of 1971 Reunion?

In a few weeks, the A.P. Leto High School Class of 1971 will gather in Tampa to celebrate the 45th anniversary of their  graduation. While a member of that class, I have decided not to participate this year. I am sure that there will be enough people there that they will be able to celebrate without my presence.

My wife and I had attended both  the ten year celebration and the thirty year celebrations. When the fortieth anniversary rolled around in 2011, my mom was dying and I chose not to attend so that I could spend that time with her. So why am I not attending this year's event? Excellent question, allow me to elaborate.

The Class of 1971 has a Facebook page. I am "Facebook friends with about twenty people from my class. I enjoy reading about what people are doing now and interacting with them online.

It's all pretty easy to understand, I hated high school. It may have been the worst three years of my life. Today, I am the poster boy for Adult ADHD. No one had a name for it then. I was in three or four advanced classes a day with the other smart kids in my junior and senior years. It was kind of like a herd of nerds program. I don't think ,that I received any benefits from that program.

I can look back now and realize that I didn't have any real friends in high school. My high school friends were kind of like most "Facebook friends" are today. They are your friends in one particular setting. Once I left school in the afternoon, I had almost no interaction with my school friends unless they were neighbors. I never went anywhere with school friends, we never even talked on the phone after school. I lived in Tampa for twelve years after graduation and can count the number of encounters that I had with classmates on my fingers.

I had pretty good grades in school. My diploma bears the "Honors" seal on it. So when the National Honor Society started inducting members from my class, I was sure that I would become a member. I didn't make it in the junior year induction. They had two inductions in my senior year and I was not an inductee in either event. Why didn't I make it? In addition to the required grade point average, teachers voted to determine if the candidates met the characteristics required for membership. All it took to keep you out was a single vote from a teacher to "blackball" you. Imagine how bad my day was in the fall of 1970 during my senior year when three different teachers all told me the exact same thing, "I'm sorry but I had to vote against you being in the National Honor Society. I just don't think that you fit the requirements." Three teachers? It only would take one. Didn't they talk to each other?? I went home that day and cried. I realized that I would never be a member. When they had the next induction in early 1971, I told my mother that I didn't want to go to school that day and she let me stay home. In my senior year, I was in an advanced Physics class. The Honor Society held their monthly meetings during that class period. When they called for the members to leave their classes, the room would empty. Sometimes, there would be one or two other students left in the room. They were members but had been suspended from the NHS for bad grades. Usually I was the only student left in the room. Mr. Dillard, the teacher, would just tell me to read and he would go take a break. It was days like that when I questioned the value of our educational system. Allow me to repeat myself, I hated high school!!

In addition to all of that, I will stay home this year because my social skills are not good. I am uncomfortable in social situations. I am not good with small talk. I have a tendency to talk over other people. I am a blurter. If it's in my mind, it's out my mouth. I will stay home because I hate to watch my wife cringe when I say something. I am okay with a crowd. I can talk to hundreds of people without an issue. I struggle in one on one situations.

More than twenty five years ago, in the throes of a near nervous breakdown, I went to see a psychiatrist for help. his name was Dr. Aldo Mell. He has passed away since then, but he was a great guy to talk to about things. He had some kind of accent. He sounded a little like you might imagine Freud sounded. After several months and thousands of dollars, he gave me a diagnosis. "You are an introvert operating as an extrovert. You have to find a way to resolve that issue." So I am resolving it this year by staying home. I will try for the fiftieth year celebration in 2021.


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