It’s reunion season. You can feel it in the air, not just because it’s all autumnal and crisp, but because TJ Maxx is selling out of Spanx and guys are buying their first pair of new jeans in at least two years.
Details of my 30-year reunion were just shared today, and while I lament the fact that, no, I cannot likely drop a quick 20 in five weeks and have yet to write a book I’ve been blathering about for decades, I can’t wait to see the girls I played Lemon Twist with and the guys who taught me how to fold a piece of loose-leaf in a tight triangle and kick it through the thumb-touching uprights across our desks.
As I’ve bantered back and forth all day with people who knew me when – namely, when I wore bad corduroys and smelled, simultaneously, like Sea Breeze astringent and Love’s Baby Soft cologne – I’ve done that typical reunion-season comparison between who I am and who I wanted to be or said I would be.
If I had the Marty McFly flux capacitor and could go back to the early 80s, what advice would I give my adolescent self?
I guess I could tell myself that it didn’t really matter in the end what college I chose, because I made my own way in the world and because you learn, after enough years, that life will take its twists and turns no matter what your final ACT score was and what university sent you an acceptance letter. Perhaps I might suggest sticking with the tennis lessons, since 20-plus years later, I had to start over after taking up the sport again and get unnaturally and perhaps even a bit unnervingly excited when the ball actually sails over the net.
The best and most sincere -- and therefore meaningful – advice I would give is to be nice. That may sounds trite, silly, cheesy, whatever, but, when you’re bumping up against middle age, you realize how important it is, mostly because when people aren’t nice, it really sucks, and not just for you.
You know how so many of us are talking about a lack of common courtesy and general breakdown in manners and civility? Maybe there wouldn’t be as many traffic accidents of the jagdork in the car ahead of you didn’t speed up just to squeal and stop, causing a chain reaction that costs real people time, aggravation, money and even their safety. Maybe, if niceness was emphasized more and not mocked instead (seriously, wait til you see some of the comments from the trolls that people like me get when we talk about being nice), people would pull over for ambulances, respect funeral processions, hold a door open for someone behind them, think twice before raising their voice to a colleague, subordinate or even their boss or child’s teacher.
That’s what a wooden plaque says above my desk, and I’m looking at it as I write this. Those are two important words I‘d share with the 1983 version of Lynn Rogers, and they are the words I say often and probably to eye-rolling frequency to my own kids.
Right behind “Be Nice” and “Be Kind,” I guess I’d have to tell my 8th grade self to not eat the rest of the mac-and-cheese in the pot, because, when you’re getting ready for a reunion, Spanx can be hard to come by and even if you do find it, all those things tend to do is just displace your added pounds in unexpected places, much like, say, Whack-a-Mole.