Thursday, August 21, 2014

Commentary — The Brood Reunion, From 17 To 70

Fifty years ago, or so, seven of us who went to the same high school in the mid-sixties decided we would not lose touch with each other as time marched or meandered on. What we had in common was a lack of interest in sports, the marching band or math club.  Most of us were interested in debate, speech, radio, or theater.  We were an opinionated group and still are.

The Brood In The Beginning
Being too young to drink legally, we met after school at a neighborhood diner for coffee or in Rob’s basement. We hung out together talking politics, ethics, religion and sex, almost all of this in theoretical terms. Especially the sex part.  “What if” games were also popular.  You know, what if you were to be stranded on an island, what three things would you bring along?   I think that our desire to get together  again and again was not so much the loyal warrior brother mentality that some boys engage in, but mere curiosity — a “what if” game realized.  What if we were 70? What would we be like?  How might we have changed?  Would we still be alive?

We were white.  We had no friends of color because there were no students of color in our high school or in our neighborhood.  I remind you this was 50 years ago. We were middleclass white kids, probably somewhat unaware of our privilege, but also pretty much unaware that there were those with even greater privilege. We referred to our little group as “the brood” for practical purposes. This was the name we used among ourselves. However word got out that there was this exclusive club and kids we didn’t know wanted to join.  Join what? We weren’t a club or a fraternity, just a group of guys with common interests who got together to discuss subjects most kids our age weren’t interested in.  There was no application form because there was nothing to join. If we were smarter, perhaps we could have charged a membership fee and sold tee-shirts.  But no doubt we would have been found out and the allure would have returned us to the anonymity we had when it all began.

When high school was over, we began to disperse. College, marriage, and military service, as well as jobs took us in different directions.  Among us are two attorneys, two who did public relations, one a business executive, another a truck driver, and another with a career in the grocery business. Two live in Indiana (Indianapolis and Evansville).  Other hometowns include Springfield, Illinois, Grand Rapids Michigan, Atlanta, San Francisco and a lovely, historic town in Tennessee. Two are gay. There are tons of grand children, great grand children, and more than a few ex-wives. None of us are in poverty, though there is not a Bill Gates or Warren Buffet among us. Three are still gainfully employed. The rest of us are at least semi-retired.

At San Francisco's Magic Flute Restaurant

I am certain that we seven are not the only group that has set out to do this — have our own private reunions.  And probably others have succeeded as well.  I’m not suggesting this is news, merely rare. 

Over the years we have met in Indianapolis (several times), Atlanta, Biloxi, Miami and last week in San Francisco — 50 years since all of this “brood” stuff began.

I do draw a few conclusions.  The main one is that after several days together, it is clear to me the essence of each individual has not changed one iota.  We are merely old 17-year-olds.

As a murder-mystery writer, though, I cannot let this go by without using this set up as grist for the mill. There is a story here. Unfortunately, it presents me with a dilemma: Whom do I kill?

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