30-Year Reunion Class Commentary
by Gary Jacobs
I'm staying here at the Doubletree, and as it happens, they're hosting a convention of wannabe models. So the hotel has been filled with all these beautiful young girls. And last night was apparently some kind of bathing suit event, because they were all there in the lobby in these skimpy, little two piece bathing suits. This has nothing to do with our reunion, I just can't stop thinking about it.
Anyway, I want to start by thanking all the people--of course not all the girls were wearing the two piece. There was this gorgeous blonde in one of those Speedo things. She looked great, but way too thin. They were all too thin. One of the girls happened to be sitting next to me in the restaurant, and I heard her order a Diet Coke and a chicken sandwich without the chicken. And you want to tell them, don't do that. You've got to eat something. Then you can go in the bathroom and make yourself throw up. But they're young and you hope they'll learn.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I want to thank Linda Haworth and the entire Reunion Committee for putting all of this together, for doing just a wonderful job, and for giving me a few minutes to talk to you.
I am feeling very good tonight. And not just because we're all together again after 30 years, but more importantly, because about an hour ago I took my anti-depressant and it's starting to kick in. Show of hands: How many Paxils? Prozacs? Do we have any Zolofts here tonight?
Okay. There's something that's been bothering me for thirty years now. Those little sayings they wrote under our names in the yearbook--what the heck was that all about? What did they mean? Some would say it was foolish of me, an enormous waste of time, but I have devoted most of these past thirty years to unraveling the mystery of those sayings. Over that time, I successfully broke many of our nuclear codes, translated a number of ancient Eyptian papyrus texts, but still I don't have a clue why under Jane Hargis' picture they wrote, "Man is a vile creature, and vile is he who calls him vile for that." Does that make any sense to anyone?
Here's another thing that's bothered me for more than 30 years. Remember this?: "Como estan Pablo y Luisa?" "Pablo esta bien, pero Luisa tiene catarro." "Que lastima! Lo siento. Ojala que se mejore pronto." "How are Pablo and Luisa?" "Pablo is fine, but Luisa has a cold." "What a shame. I'm sorry. I hope she gets better soon." 30 years I've remembered those words. Three decades, my fellow alums. Now keep in mind most of that time I've lived in California. Huge Hispanic population. Yet have I even once been able to trot out those phrases? No. Uh uh. First of all, I would bet it was 20, 25 years before I even came across someone who had both a Pablo and Luisa, and then, as it turned out, this Luisa did not have a cold. But of course I don't know how to respond to that. I can only deal with sick Luisas. I think I may have ad libbed something about the biblioteca.
Here's something else that bothers me. Mary Lynn Bibbs, Becky Ethridge, Brenda Litwin, Mike Ruff, Bruce Coleman. You haven't changed! You haven't changed at all! Damn you! You make me want to vomit!
48 years old. Do you feel 48? I don't feel 48. The real truth is, in my mind, I'm still around 16. I still listen to the same music I did when I was 16. I still have many of the same friends I had then. Not five minutes ago, I popped Cathy Berry's bra strap. And she slapped me, just like she did when we were 16.
Of course we are getting older, a point that became very clear to me in my television writing career. There's a whole new crop of writers out there, much younger than me, and I must say, I don't think they're especially respectful of people our age. On the last show I was doing, I turned in a script and said, "Sorry I'm a little late, but I ran out of carbon paper," and if you could have seen the looks those kids gave me.
Judging from last night and tonight, age doesn't seem to have diminished our ability to party. Last night, after the get-together at Midway Point, Bruce Wiland, Craig Gray, Debbie Hathaway, Hanlon Skillman, Mark McClennahan and Cathy Berry came back here to the hotel to Craig's room and continued partying till three in the morning, at which time a Security Guard showed up because there'd been a complaint about the noise. Luckily, the guard didn't mention it was me. Hey, I was trying to go night-night.
When they asked me to make this presentation, they sent me all of the bios that we filled out and that now appear in the directory. And I have to tell you, it made for some fascinating reading. I found them moving and funny and uplifting and sometimes sad. I admit I had to keep going to the yearbook to match the name with the face. (By the way, a public apology to Bruce Wiland, who loaned me his yearbook for this purpose. I'm afraid my cat got in my office and did some chewing on some of the pages of Bruce's book. Apologies also to Judy Mynett, Sue Morgan, Gayle Mead and Chris McGowan, whose faces now have tiny little cat teeth holes in them. Also, Bruce, the inscription that got partially chewed, I believe those words were "bitchin' summer.")
Having read the bios, I feel like I can make a few generalizations about our class of '70. First of all, the thing that jumps right out at you, "We're a fertile little group." Perhaps instead of Longhorns, we should have been the Bunnies. Of course "Hook 'Em Bunnies" doesn't exactly send shivers up the opponent's spine.
Our class, it seems to me, has an impressively high percentage of successful marriages, with some of us having celebrated our 25th or even 30th anniversaries. I think that's an enormous achievement.
I didn't do too well on my first marriage, but I'm happy to say I got it right the second time around. Five years ago, I married Elise, we immediately had two kids, and life is indeed sweet. It does disturb me, though, that when we celebrate our 30th anniversary, I'll be 73. Let's see, the 25th is silver, so that would be the Viagra anniversary.
It seems like the majority of us have children in their late teens to early twenties, and we do number a few grandparents among us. And quite a few on the verge. And there are a few like myself with very young children. My son Ben is 4 and my daughter Katy will be three in October. And there are a few of you with even younger children, which I find amazing. I have this vision of me in the backyard with my son when he's a teenager and I'm 60-something. "Throw the ball. Ow! Ow! Oy, my back." I also find a particular irony in that no sooner do we get our kids out of diapers, than I'm in them.
I don't want to take up too much more time, so let me just run down a few of the things in your bios that caught my eye.
Linda Friese. Linda is a concert violinist who's played backup to such luminaries as Rod Stewart, Yanni, the Moody Blues and ELO. But at least as impressive as Linda's musical skills, is that she was a contestant on "Jeopardy!" And the answer is, "The public address system, a large wooden paddle and Hanlon Skillman." Bzzz. "What are three things that can usually be found in Mr. Golden's office?" "I'll stay with 'Native American Principals' for a hundred, Alex."
Dick Goodall is a successful photographer, who mentions in his bio that he's photographed a number of famous people, including Barbara Bush and Dan Quayle. Interestingly, he misspelled "Quayle." Don't feel bad, Dick, I think I misspelled misspelled.
Marty Goodwin tells a terrifying story of suffering a stroke, and seems to have come out of it with a unique perspective on life.
I want to steer all of you to Jeff Howle's bio, which is very funny and focusses on his divorce. Jeff, believe me, I know wherefrom you speak. My first marriage was truly awful. I usually compare it to, do you remember the movie "Fatal Attraction"? Remember Michael Douglas' and Glenn Close's relationship. If my ex-wife and I had had a lot of counseling and had really worked on it, maybe we could have achieved what they had. I could never understand why he left her. At least she slept with him.
Margaret Hundley is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, and, with her husband, the owner of a vineyard and winery.
Kandi Israelson has four Corvettes.
Charlie Leroy, among his other accomplishments, is a triathlete and has competed in the Ironman. Incredible achievement.
Nancy Peiser, besides being a mother and dance movement therapist and educator, is married to the man who discovered HDL, the good cholesterol.
Greg Toole has owned and sold a number of successful oil and gas related companies, including one which supplied ceramic proppants in the hydraulic fracturing industry. What's amazing about that, is you'll recall Greg was voted "Most Likely to Supply Ceramic Proppants in the Hydraulic Fracturing Industry." And under his picture, it said, "Proppants, proppants, anyone have proppants?" It seemed so cryptic at the time, and yet in hindsight...
Richard Zipple is married to an Israeli woman, an architect, they have two young children, one only 2 months old, and Richard is helping to start the first private university in Israel, where they now reside.
And speaking of Israel, Lanny Temple traveled all over the world creating a marvelous book about nature and the environment, called Dear World. Lanny found himself in Israel during the Gulf War, at a time when everyone in the country was being issued gas masks because of Iraq's SCUD missile attacks. Tel Aviv suffered two SCUD attacks his first night there. You must read Lanny's bio, which is beautifully written.
I was moved by Danny Gerson's bio. At the end of it, he writes, "Best moment of the decade? The birth of my son. Worst moment? Sunday morning, July 30, 1995, when I received the call that Garry Segal had passed away. I still miss him."
Tommy Whitehurst is an expert on nuclear reactors.
Bobby Browne and Judy Martin are grandparents four times over and married 30 years.
In one of the more amazing stories, Becky Booth, in 1996, was reunited with her son, Russ, who had been adopted at birth 27 years earlier.
It's funny, but what most affected me in our bios was the ordinary. Going to work, coaching our daughter's soccer team, starting a new business, traveling, dealing with the passing of a parent. Maybe it's from watching all those movies and television shows, but I used to think that a remarkable life had to have a high point, a major dramatic moment, reaching the summit of Everest, overcoming a life threatening illness, something of that order. But as I read our life stories, I wonder if the remarkable life is not unremarkable. Maybe it's the getting up everyday, going to work, raising a family, maybe that's the stuff of heroism. And maybe love isn't so much about the smoldering kiss or sweeping her into your arms and carrying her up the staircase, maybe real love is the day to day being there for one another, sharing the ups and especially the downs.
Finally, I just want to say this weekend has meant a lot to me. It's deeply affected me. We knew one another during some of the most important years of our lives. Certainly among the most intense. First loves. Broken hearts. In crowds. Outcasts. Our first tentative steps from child to young adulthood. We know each other's secrets. We saw each other at our most vulnerable and insecure. And now here we are 30 years later. Parents, grandparents, doctors, lawyers, businessmen and women. And yet somewhere, down deep inside, that insecure adolescent still lurks.
I consider myself lucky indeed to be part of this remarkable group.
June 24, 2000