Old Friends, New Friends, New Old Friends

Alamo Heights ISD

Do you remember The Fonz trying to say he was wrong and the words refusing to come out?

“I was wr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r, wr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r!” He looked like he
was passing a kidney stone.

I have somewhat the same problem, but when I’m wrong I do eventually admit it. I attended my tenth high school reunion and the 45th. In between I had very little contact with anyone I knew from high school, and that’s the way I wanted it. They were not good years for me, and those were not fond memories. If it weren’t for high school, what the hell would we have to talk about with our
Thanks to the woman who ramrods the reunions, Ilene Arbetter, I was hunted down and practically dragged to our reunion in 2012. The supposed end-of-the-world apocalypse forecasted for December 21 may have had something to do with my decision. After all, what did I have to lose?
What I discovered was that I was wr-r-r-r-ong. Everyone was much older, a bit wiser, and we had all swallowed a good dose of reality in the ensuing years. I saw old friends who still seemed glad to see me and to be seen. Memories of good times I had completely forgotten returned, and for the first time in 45 years, I felt the pain and anger I associated with that time of my life ebbing away. I discovered a lot of the negative feelings I’d carried for so long had more to do with my relationship with my mother back then than they did with the kids I
blamed for them.
I am so grateful to Ilene for nagging me into going. I’m still reaping benefits from reconnecting with my schoolmates. It seems like every few weeks there’s someone new who takes the plunge and joins our Facebook group. And every once in a while, one of those people become new close friends, based on shared interests and politics, or friendly adversaries, based on opposite viewpoints and politics. It all stays remarkably civil, much more so than I would have believed
So now I have old friends, new friends, and new old friends. My husband has been caught in the fallout and has made a few new friends, too. He enjoyed my reunion because he likes hearing things about me I never told him. Also, he doesn’t have to remember anyone’s names since it’s not his reunion. There’s no pressure, and
occasionally he gets an illuminating tidbit about my teenage years to laugh about.

My point is this: when your next reunion comes up, give it a chance. If you make just one new old friend, it will be worth your effort. You might even discover that someone you despised back then isn’t so bad now. There’s something about life that mellows most people. Marriage, kids, divorce, illness, and deaths have happened to us all, and we carry the scars on our faces.

Most of us look like crumbling Greek ruins, until we smile. There’s something so touching about someone smiling and being able to glimpse that sweet young boy or girl again, even if it’s only for a second. Our younger selves are still inside us. That part of us never ages, never dies.

Self-Help, “Soapbox” Style

I’ve never really believed in luck, good or bad. Not that I go out of my way to break mirrors or walk under ladders, but that’s as much from a fear of being cut or hit in the head with a paint can as any belief in bad luck. Perhaps being mostly Irish has made me skeptical about luck. The Luck of the Irish, after all, runs to potato famines and IRA bombings. But sometimes I encounter a string of mishaps that makes me wish there were ways to be a more proactive in making my own luck.

Bad things happen in threes, according to my mother. Any wimp can handle that. However, what do you do when they start coming in dozens? I’ve been through spells like that, and a good friend of mine is currently treading the cosmic minefield. Surely there is a way to redirect negative energy, refocus the karma, or alter the vibes, whatever it takes to end a streak of bad things piling up on one person.

As a modern woman, first I checked the Internet. FYI, you can find all sorts of videos on how to make good luck charms on, where you’ll also find ways to break curses imposed in this or past lives. As interesting as that sounds, there must be something you can do that won’t change the tenor of your mail from Cooking Light to Coven Digest.

Bad patches affect all cultures and ethnicities. Whether you consulted a curandero, a feng shui master, a chiropractor, or the latest self-help book doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference. About all you could do was wait until bad things stopped happening to you. At least that was the case until now.

Welcome to The Soapbox Self-Help Boot Up the Bum. Over the years, I have learned most problems can be written off, if not solved, by any one of a number of expressions common among the younger generation. Unfortunately, I can’t print any of these expressions in this venue, being a family blog and all.

So here are some cleaned-up versions you may find helpful.

  1. What the dickens?!?
  2. Darn that!
  3. Stuff happens!
  4. Dang that poo!
  5. I don’t give a flying squirrel!

Make a list of all the bad things you are dealing with right now. Select a woe. Choose an appropriate riposte from the above list, say it with attitude, and you will feel empowered and in control of your destiny. If you don’t, however, repeat the process until you do, or until you need a bathroom break. It may take a while for this to work, but it’s at least as fast as therapy and a whole lot cheaper. If those phrases don’t help, try Googling “British curse words.” They usually sound more silly than profane.

The point is, be proactive. Find something that works for you and will help you cope with whatever comes your way. The old chestnut about, “God helps those who helps themselves,” although nowhere in the Bible and usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is not only an affirmation of buffet dining but a self-help mantra. Give it a try!