For 44 years following my High School graduation, I resisted the temptation to attend a Reunion. When the 45th Reunion was being planned, one of my friends on the committee suggested that he knew I would be a great candidate to do a roast of the Committee.
I consented and decided to attend the “Friday night Social” just to see if I could add a few more tid-bits of ammunition to fire at the Committee.
At the restaurant, there were several clusters waiting outside. I’m not sure why, but no one made a move for the door, so neither did I. None of them looked familiar to me. Must be I didn’t look familiar to them either. We all nodded cordially. Another classmate arrived. I recognized him. Believe it or not, 45 years had gone by, yet I was quite certain I knew him.
“Bob Jackson…right?” I greeted him. “You wrestled one seventy-five didn’t you?”
“Yeah, actually 185 and heavyweight.” He responded, “And… you… are… “
“I’m Ed Kaiser and this is my wife Sue”. And the reminiscing began. We talked about others on the wrestling team, but I never got the feeling that he remembered me. He should have. After all, I’m the little kid who brought him oranges after his matches. Of course I also saw him every day at practice. Dropped sweat with him. There were only 20 or so guys in that group, so you’d think he’d have remembered.
But, hey, the lighting in the wrestling room was bad and I was hard to see, cowering in the corner. Plus, we never wrestled each other. He was huge and I wasn’t much bigger than the oranges he devoured.
I was almost too small to be noticeable in any wrestling picture. As a sophomore, I was barely visible in the team picture. Barely, as almost hidden, but not physically bare. I had a T-shirt on so as to not scare viewers with my muscleless physique. I was under 85 pounds and tried to wrestle 95. I did wrestle a few matches against 1959 powerhouse schools such as Okemos, Boys Vocational and School for the blind. I was undefeated and earned a Varsity Letter…which was very heavy to wear on my blue and gold sweater.
In other sporting news, I tried out for the football team. Sophomore year—JV. My shoulder pads would only rest on one shoulder or the other. Kinda like a boa loosely slung around my neck.
The smallest padded pants they had in dusty storage tied up very nicely… just under my armpits. Add in a helmet and my full uniform doubled my gross weight. The coach admitted he would never put me in a game. He was afraid for my life.
Spring sports didn’t work out either. They told me I couldn’t drag my bat up to the plate and just hope to get 4 balls. Next stop was the track. I’m guessing the same guy who designed Christiancy School’s rock strewn ball-field must have had an influence in pouring cinders in a circle to run on.
Seriously? Red-stained clinkers from a coal furnace? Shameful! Come on…they could have laid down an oval of concrete then had all the hot-rodders in school burn rubber on the straigth-aways and do power slides in the curves. Awesome traction and you wouldn’t have needed cleats.
That being said, the Track Coach suggested I try sprints. I suppose he figured my scrawny legs were not long enough to endure distances. But sprinting was a flop right at the start.
Literally, at the start. Starting with my hands on the ground was a disaster in the making. At the starters gunshot, my feet spasmed, my fingers lifted off the ground, but my legs failed to catch up enough to keep my nose off of the track.
Next event was distance running…as in all the way to the showers.
Fast forward to the 45th Reunion. At that time I stood six-four and over and about 100-over my wrestling weight. I was no longer shy. That is, unless it is in the context of hair loss. I no longer had a Swave coated wave above my brow. It was much closer to being a glassy sea.
Anyway, it’s no wonder very few classmates recognized me. It mattered little to me, though. Over 45 years, my athletic mis-adventures were now great topics for humorous recall at Reunions.