This past November I helped organize our first highschool class reunion, the big 10.
Despite the social over-stimulation, unexpected expenditures, 40 year old party crashers, I think the night turned out well enough. It was honestly good to see everyone.
I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but I had secretly written a short speech just in case I was asked to. It was folded in my inside coat pocket the whole night.
I’m kind of glad I wasn’t asked to give it. First of all, I would have had to compete with the band playing downstairs. Secondly, despite my delusions of prominence, the night was not about me.
So, here it is, inexplicable hot-pocket jokes and all.
Friends, Enemies, Frenemies, Blackstonians, Millvillians, Bellinghammers, Woonsocketeers, Uxbrigders, people from… Douglas
River People, Valley Folk
Massholes, New Englanders
People who have stayed, and people who have left.
I welcome all of you to the 10 Year Reunion Celebration for the legendary BMR Class of 2005, hosted by Hotpockets, "Boy, I could make a bad decision right now. Why not a hot pocket?”
A longtime ago, I tricked a sufficiently high number of you into voting for me. Somehow, against the very laws of probability, I became your class president. After all these years, I need to ask: Why?
It certainly wasn't my looks. Or my charm. Or my leadership skills. Or my moral character. Come on guys, I sat in a car and watched a shopping cart roll down the entire length of the Park n' Shop parking lot and crash into a parked car.
I am terrible.
And frankly, I'm worried about your judgement.
As you have probably observed, I've done a fine job at dragging my feet throughout this entire process. It's not that I didn't want to see you guys ever again, it's just that it was really easy to pretend that high school never happened and that I entered the world as a fully formed twenty something year old hipster.
Whenever someone would mention to me our upcoming reunion, I would change the subject as quickly as possible. Eventually, the pressure got too high. And then I was forced, as we all are at some point, to started giving a shit.
It was kind of fun gathering all the old tribes together. The jocks, the nerds, the band nerds, the band jocks, the nerd jocks, the guys who were really into wrestling.
I forget where I fit in. I think I was part-nerd, part National Honor Society snob, part guy who used to wear classic rock t-shirts.
As you remember, my graduation speech was a stunning performance. The town of Blackstone was still talking about it for literally minutes after I gave it. But you know, I've changed a lot as a person. I have acquired a few scars. I have attained some amount of wisdom. I've seen some serious shit. So to reflect the Newman that I am, I decided to rewrite my original graduation speech. I'd like to share it with you.
Here it is:
Hello, class of 2005, you guys are so utterly screwed. Thank you. That is all.
We are kind of a strange generation. We caught the last fumes of the 80s. We incubated in the warm glow of the nineties. We sat nervously in our Y2K bunkers, awaiting the end of the world. We rode right on the crest of the digital wave.
We still have vague memories of lost archaic concepts like CDs, phone booths, books, and relationships. We had Myspaces. We had Livejournals. Oh Christ, I still haven't deleted mine. Somewhere, there are some whiney blog posts about how hard it was to be me.
They call us a lot of things: Millenniums, Millennials, Echo Boomers, the Boomerang Generation, and the Peter Pan Generation. I think every new generation experiences some animosity from the previous, but right now it feels like we are the most detested generation on the block. And frankly, I love it. I really do. Discouragement is my encouragement.
I say, right on. Worst generation, right here.
At this time, I would like to take a moment to remind you of our sponsor, Hotpockets: "What does despair taste like? Try a hot pocket today!"
I've been thinking a lot about Blackstone. I moved back briefly in the Summer of 2014. I was already feeling pretty down about that transition. It was a painful step backward. I was unemployed and feeling pretty worthless. A week after I moved back, something really terrible happened in town on St. Paul's street. I won't go into it, except to say I remember that day. I remember the sirens. I remember the helicopters. I remember the bridge being blocked off. It took us all by surprise. How could this happen here?
At that point, I personally disowned my hometown. I was determined to never mention its name again. It was just too painful. If I was asked where I was from, I would say something pathetic like, "South of Boston." I didn't want anyone to know that I came from the town that was on the news.
That said, setting up this event, and seeing you all together, has made me come around. A bit. I am reminded that my center is still here, no matter what happens. This place is still my weird little home.
I have one request tonight. It's kind of vague, but I'll put it out there.
Can we be a family? Not a conventional family, that meets once a year, where Uncle Jack falls asleep on the couch with his hand down his pants. Not like that.
More, like a backup family. A family that is waiting in the wings. A family that is there in case anyone of us needs one. Can we be a safety net for each other? I'd like to think that if any one of use fell on hard times, financially or emotionally, the rest could pull together and make a difference. I'll be the first to admit that I have a bad habit of dreaming too much, and then doing to little, but I'd just like to put that idea in your head. Collectively, we are a resource. And I'd like to tap that…
The resource. I'd like to tap the resource.
That is all I have you.
Thank you all for coming out tonight.
I'd like to thank River Falls for the room.
I'd like to thank the reunion committee for putting this together. They did so much, and I did so very little. Let's give them a hand.
I'd like to thank all the non-BMR spouses for coming out. Sorry guys, coming to an event like this must be strange and awkward. Thanks for putting up with us.
Finally, from the deepest reaches of my heart, I'd like to thank our sponsor, Hotpockets, "Betray all reason, put this terrible lava baby in your mouth!"