September 20, 2023
I’m not quite sure how it happened but, somehow, I ended up on the Critical List of my high school graduating class. To my way of thinking, this is a peculiar honor reserved for the most sophisticated, cosmopolitan and intelligent of us. The way you get on this list is by being consistently absent from class functions. This is not a difficult accomplishment, considering that we have not had any class functions since our graduation. We were simply glad to get out of there and move onto our futures which provided choices of college or the Vietnam War.
In the annals of graduating classes, ours has the distinction of being the least distinguished. Few scholarships were awarded and, as far as I know, only one was awarded by an ivy league school. Truth be told, it was probably more of a poison ivy league school. If our academics were unremarkable, our athletic prowess was worse. In football we lost our homecoming game. Soccer was a washout, baseball resembled the Keystone Cops and as far as wrestling went, our shining star was a stand-out in his weight class: 98 lbs. The best that could be said of our class was that anything subsequent could not help but be an improvement.
Still, upon further consideration, there are worse things than being the bad example. You give those following you something for which to shoot. Or perhaps not.
I am reminded of the story of a country parson who counted among his flock the worst reprobate of the entire county. The family, conscious of his behavior and lifestyle, desperately begged the pastor to think of something good to say and even sweetened the pot with an offer of $5,000.00 if he could do so. The good cleric lost sleep for two nights, wondering what could possibly said which would not be a lie but still earn him the aforementioned prize which he and his family desperately needed.
By the time of the service everyone in the county was aware of the family’s challenge and showed up to see how the Preacher was going to handle it. Following the singing and opening prayers, he ascended the pulpit, read a few appropriate verses of Holy Writ and cleared his throat. A few beads of sweat appeared on his brow as he looked down at the deceased in the open casket, decked out in his finest coveralls and sporting a well-worn Alabama hat. He cleared his throat and finally pronounced the entire sermon in one sentence: “Well, beloved, his brother was worse!”
I am told that we will have a class reunion at the Homecoming Game this year. I received a passable invitation in the mail. My name was misspelled. Upon checking my calendar for that event, I believe that I will demonstrate the virtue of consistency in my participation. After all, my sock drawer is not going to re-arrange itself!
I bid you peace!