Here's a note before the ** note BEFORE the "Author's note." My 30-year High School Reunion is fast approaching. Shortly after attending my 20-year reunion I wrote a looooong blog post for my new, at that time, blog. After posting the piece on the reunion I went on to post another 100 or so newspaper columns (I was writing a humor column in a local newspaper at that time) as well as a few other things I wrote for various publications, but every now and again I would check the stats on how many people had viewed particular posts. My reunion post was up to 10,000 or so views the last I checked (and my graduating class was just over 1,000 students I believe), and that was years ago. So in anticipation of my 30-year I went in and checked the stats this morning, May 22, 2018, after deciding I'd bury it on my personal website and share to my 30-year reunion FaceBook group. I was shocked to see that the number of views was now pushing 50,000! I know people aren't that interested in the Alta High School from Sandy, UT class of 1988 20-year reunion! I'm sure it's more like I've hit search engines when people type in 20-year high school reunion, but regardless, it was pretty funny to think that many eyes had viewed a lengthy post about a bunch of folks they don't even know, but who meant so much to me. So here's to the class of 1988! I'm promising to write about a quarter of what I did on this post after the 30-year, but partially because as a man now pushing 50, I'm sure my memory isn't going to hold much after that weekend 🙂
** Alta Class of 88, I know many of you are dropping by now thanks to Steve's email (and yes, I'll get him back for his comments at the 30 year). I'd love for you to sign the guest book regardless of whether or not you make it to the end. Thanks everybody, great seeing you all! - Tony
Author’s note – Boy, that sounds pretty pompous, “author’s note.” It’s not like I’m writing War and Peace here, but as you’ll soon see, or read, this post-reunion report is only slightly shorter than the aforementioned novel. I wrote the majority of this report while the memories were fresh. I then took a step back and have since had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. Many former classmates have written me to ask when I’d post something about the reunion so I realize at some point I just need to post what I have written. So with that said, I’m about to make a “Hollywood” type of decision. Allow me to explain.
Let’s pretend that my reunion report is a $200 million big-budget movie. Well, we’re about three-quarters of the way done filming and we’ve run out of money. So what do we do? We essentially tie up all loose ends in the space of about 5 minutes and hope that the beginning and middle of the movie was enough to satisfy those who came to the theater. So with that said, let’s see if you can find where my time-bank went bankrupt and I wrapped it up, threw in the towel, phoned it in so to speak.
Next challenge? I had planned on writing about my reunion experience in my newspaper column. My columns tend to run between 600-800 words. At last glance this report was pushing about 7,000 words so I’m going to need to edit just a bit. One friend suggested I just take every tenth word and see how that turns out. Let’s try it from the start of this paragraph…
Author’s not as report majority then while back into me so post about that movie.
Hey, actually that’s not so bad? I’ve definitely written worse. Now, onto the reunion report. Just a couple of quick notes before you jump in. 1) If you come to my blog to read my newspaper column, ultra marathon reports or parenting info then I would highly recommend hitting the “back” button on your browser, maybe head over to Moviefone, find a movie and run out and see it. You’ll be back before you would have finished this report. Plus, I’m about to dive into a niche that only a few hundred folks who lived in Sandy, Utah some 20 years ago might enjoy. Well, actually if you came here via a web search for “20 year high school reunion” then maybe you can pick up a tip or two about going to your own. 2) When I mention names of classmates I’m using maiden names and I’m not too worried about spelling. If I researched the correct info I wouldn’t publish this thing before our 30 year reunion. 3) As I mentioned, I ran out of gas toward the end leaving out many, many wonderful exchanges with many wonderful people (and a few people I don’t remember, let’s be honest). To those not mentioned, many who are good friends, understand that the memories are there…they’ll just be gone from my brain in a few short weeks. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for reading! ~ Tony
From left to right, Shawn Lindquist and his wife Natalie, Spencer Meikle and his wife Sharon, yours truly and my beautiful wife Wendy and, seated in front my friend Shem Vander Veur and his wife. I don’t know her name because I wasn’t invited to their wedding…but I’m not bitter about it.
My 20 Year High School Reunion, aka, we’re all a bit heavier and have wrinkles in the creases of our eyes.
Rarely does an event live up to the hype. New Coke, fudge filled Oreo cookies, those new crackers with pretzel on one side and cracker on the other, Adam Sandler’s “Don’t Mess with the Zohan”…none of those items were as impressive as the advertisements. I can’t lie, I worried that attending my 20-year high school reunion might fall somewhere in between the Coke and the Oreo. In the midst of trading emails between old high school friends prior to the big event my friend Shem, in teasing my friend Grant for making plans that would take him out of town for the big event, sarcastically said, “ I can’t believe you made other plans, but I understand, we could have used more notice.” We had plenty of notice, months and months of notice and for that I’ll be forever grateful.
This year’s reunion committee was actually so on top of things that I think I first starting hearing about this reunion somewhere around my sophomore year of high school. The pre-event prep truly was a work of beauty. Technology only dreamed of at the time of graduation was used to full advantage as web sites, blogs, text messages and PayPal accounts were all in motion announcing the Alta High School class of 88 party. I mention this only because this much time to spend thinking about the event undoubtedly can lead one to create expectations as high as the Rocky Mountains themselves (did I mention Alta High was located in Sandy, Utah?).
So I left the Rolls in the garage, didn’t want to seem too pompous, and packed up the 100,000 mile plus, dinged up faded blue mini-van with the entire Overbay crew (beautiful wife Wendy, formerly Marshall, class of 89, and the 4 kids) and headed to Utah the Monday before the Friday night / Saturday afternoon event. A favorite niece was kind enough to schedule her wedding around the reunion so we were going to spend the entire week in the Beehive state gorging on favorite restaurants (Training Table, Su Casa and Café Rio) and spending just enough time with friends and family to have them all issuing the same refrain, “we really don’t feel like we had a chance to visit!” I’ve always felt that the cliché “You need a vacation to relax from your vacation” was, well, just that, a cliché! I think I’m quite good at doing a big bunch of nothing on vacation. But this vacation truly did take the wind out of the sails. On the Saturday evening before we left I ran a 27 mile nigh race in Cool, California, spent Sunday at church and recuperating so by Monday I was officially tired…just in time for the trip. It didn’t help that I’m training for my first 100 mile race held in the end of September so I was supposed to have a high mileage training week whilst in Utah. I forgot that unlike my home of Lincoln, California Utah has both hills and altitude! It definitely made for a much more exhausting week. But hey, who’s going to give an idiot who signs up to run a 100 mile run any sympathy? Certainly not my family, they’re kind of used to “daddy’s sickness” by now.
From a reunion standpoint my week started on Wednesday, actually back that up. A couple of weeks leading up to the reunion an email thread started between a bunch of old friends trying to get together for lunch or dinner. Many of us hadn’t talked in years (try 20 for some!) but immediately we fell back into a familiar pattern of overall smack talking and braggadocio (I thought I made that word up but spil chckr corrected my first attempt!). Unfortunately schedules weren’t quite fitting for everybody to get together. For a moment I thought that some of us were throwing out random events simply for the sake of posturing… “Sorry boys, I have to do a little brain surgery on Tuesday, I’m piloting a homemade ship to the moon on Wednesday and then helping with some earthquake relief in China on Thursday.” I resisted as long as I could and eventually threw in there a very random note that I’d be running the aforementioned ultra marathon on Saturday. Although true, it had nothing to do with lunch the following week. I felt guilty that I was slipping into that stereotypical “reunion mode” that you read about in books and see on bad TV sitcoms. Hey, at least I didn’t go out and buy a new car or get hair plugs, right!
I did manage to catch up with Shawn Lindquist via phone Wednesday morning. Shawn is a big-time attorney with Utah-based Ominture (I’m expecting a company t-shirt, size large for every plug by the way) and part of me expected him to sound different on the phone. He didn’t, and within a couple of minutes he threw out the word “dude” and I knew he, too, felt as young as I did. I will say that the Utah “dude” is a little more uptight than the California version, more of a “dood.” But a dialect is the least of our issues at this point. We had a great conversation and decided to sit together Friday night at the reunion.
Wednesday’s luncheon was at Su Casa, my first of what would eventually be two trips there. I met Grant Rust and thankfully Grant invited old friends Will Scott and Paul Evans. We laughed, we joked and I coveted Paul’s Mercedes. Grant dropped the bomb that he wouldn’t be able to attend the reunion or the day at the park on Saturday and I quickly let him know that he was then officially open for pot shots during my talk Friday night. More on that later. Actually I’ll start right now! No, I’ll save that shot because on Thursday Grant paid for lunch with our two families, kids included. Grant has four, I have four, our wives were good friends in high school. We went to somewhere called Noodles, big hit with the kids, and Grant and I were clearly on kid duty for two solid hours while our wives caught up. It was part wonderful and part surreal. Grant and I used to spend hours debating which Go Go we’d rather Go With, whether or not the Princess was “hot” in Donkey Kong and debate whether in fact green M&M’s were an aphrodisiac and here we were talking about kids, houses, expenses, education. Who’d of thunk?
Wednesday night, and all day Thursday were spent with wedding festivities. My niece was kind enough to have her wedding the same week as my reunion. I’m sure she planned it that way on purpose, so she could get her favorite uncle and aunt in attendance. Friday came much more quickly than anticipated and I have to admit, I found myself getting a bit nervous for my speech. Time to get egotistical, bear with me. I love public speaking…which leads me on a tangent. Do you know why I love public speaking? It’s because of high school. As student body officers we used to do the announcements every morning. Basic stuff about activities, assemblies, recognition of folks for various accomplishments, you name it.
I can’t quite remember why, but I found myself giving the announcements most every day. I’m not sure in hindsight if nobody else wanted to but regardless there I was giving them. I’d typically grab a friend, like Todd Dana, and we’d do character voices of whatever was popular at the time, i.e. Hanz and Franz, Todd would do his Church lady, I’m sure to the rest of the school it grew old quickly but Todd and I had fun.
After I truly became comfortable I started to editorialize, giving my particular thoughts on a game, an issue, whatever it was. Before long I must have editorialized too much because Mr. Ward, our student government advisor, would tell me to just give the announcements as they were written. I remember a few times not sticking to the script and seeing Mr. Ward walking very quickly down the hallway to “cut the mike” so to speak. Many never knew that when you hear us start to giggle, speak quickly and end abruptly we were being chased by Mr. Ward around the library.
I was going to now write “to make a long story short” but I realize we’re beyond that point, if you haven’t already realized, we’re going long! But at some point somebody, and I wish I could remember who it was, said, “You should major in communications, you’re a good public speaker.” And from that day forward I started thinking I was a good public speaker. In college I entered a couple of speech contests and did fairly well (made it to the finals of a particular competition with a completely fabricated speech about the importance of eating breakfast, complete with made up statistics from the Kellogg’s Breakfast Institute…thank goodness there wasn’t much of an internet in the early 90’s!). I truly believe my comfort level in speaking comes truly as a result of a self-fulfilling prophesy and I use that as a therapist from time to time. Think it enough, believe it and put it into practice and you just might find you’re IT!
So back to the reunion. I was asked to speak on Friday night. I’m still not entirely sure why I was asked and not somebody else but I was excited to speak. But by Thursday night / Friday morning I found myself getting a bit more nervous than usual. Not about the talking itself, but about the content. I really wanted to be funny, I can’t lie! So I started jotting down thoughts about what I’d say, little jokes. The bigger problem is that my wife, usually my biggest supporter, had already told me that she wanted to be surprised at what I’d do and say so I couldn’t run anything by her. I found myself preparing more for this 10 minute speech than I had for hour-long speeches I’ve done in front of even larger audiences.
By the time Friday afternoon hit, however, I felt pretty good about what I was going to say. For anybody curious I’ll include it all as best as I can remember, but I had settled on a few jokes, a top 10 list of signs you knew you were a child of the 80’s, a few pictures of what I had been up to since high school and then a poem about the nature of reunions, from the 10 year where everybody was trying to impress each other, to the not-too-far-off 60 year where glass eyes are polished, teeth are boiled and the hope is that there are at least a half a dozen other classmates alive to attend.
Wendy and I haven’t lived in Utah since 1993. Even then driving downtown wasn’t something that we did very often. One of the true signs of growing up (or out, or old) is realizing how relatively close everything is in Utah. In high school if you told me we were going to do something up town I would essentially pack an overnight bag for the trip, not sure whether or not we’d make it back by the next day due to the distance. I’d fill the tank with gas, make sure I had air in the tires and essentially draft a will in case I never returned. As an adult I realize it takes about 20 minutes to get from Sandy to downtown Salt Lake City. As a matter of fact, we were staying at Wendy’s Mom’s house for this vacation. She lives in Layton. When I lived in Sandy, Layton could have just as easily been located in Idaho. I knew no one who lived in Layton, nor did I ever think I could make it to Layton on one tank of gas (.91 cent gas no less). During this trip we made the Layton to Sandy trip several times. My GPS told me it was a whopping 40 miles. 40 highway miles, or roughly 35 minutes. Yet I digress.
When we left Layton for the reunion the van showed that we had about 50 miles worth of gas in the tank. Layton to SLC was approximately 20 miles. I told Steve Affleck I’d be there around 5:30 PM to work through my talk. We left at 5 PM and figured we had plenty of time. Then I started watching the little display showing the miles left until empty dropping faster than the stocks I purchased back during the dot.com boom. It went from 50 to 43 in the span of a couple of miles. By the time we were in Woods Cross we were in the 20’s. We hit the 600 N. exit with less than 10 miles until empty. It was at that time we decided to use the GPS to find the nearest gas. Wendy hit a couple of buttons and it took us a bit out of the way. By now we’re on 3 miles until empty. We followed the directions, a left, a right, before we know it we’re in a neighborhood and the display shows 1 mile! I’m not sure if it was leading us to somebody with gas or what the problem was? We tried again and by this time the display showed 0 miles. I couldn’t believe we were going to run out of gas on the way to my reunion. We were dressed nice, it was pushing 100 degrees outside and I have a real problem with sweating and with running out of gas. Essentially it means you were too lazy to stop earlier. Wendy and I dropped into “silent mode.” I believe the thought is that by talking hot air escapes the mouth causing the air conditioning to work harder thus requiring more gas. Eventually we found a Chevron and literally coasted to the pump. I had just broken out into a fairly decent case of the head sweats but it was early enough that I knew it would dry up before the reunion. For those who might have noticed an extra shine, however, now you know why.
Once we were fueled we were then faced with the fact that we didn’t know where we were going. Once again the GPS took us to a corner with a Marriott. I had written down something about the Gallivan Center. 200 South and State. We drove around the block a couple of times and finally found parking. We then went into a building called the Gallivan Center. My heart was beating a bit more loudly in my chest. I opened the door and there I was staring at…a wedding party. I must admit, the bride looked lovely in her dress and they had enough booze to float a battleship. Not my kind of party, but at this point panic started to set in. It was pushing 6 PM thanks to my little gas incident. We had no idea where we were going. I realized the only numbers I had saved in my phone was Grant’s; he’s on his way to Alaska at this point, and Shawn Lindquist. I call Shawn…and it’s his work number. For a brief second I thought that as an attorney he would still be at work at 6 PM on a Friday but he had planned on meeting me at 5:30 PM. So Wendy and I wondered into the Marriott and sure enough that was the place.
I met Steve, hadn’t seen him since the 10 year reunion, and he looked great. Square jaw, he should have been an anchorman. I met his wife Katarina, his little brother Billy, Rick Rackowitz; I had a mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement. I recognized Rick, and he looked older, so that was a good start, right? Wendy and I made our way to the room where I’d be speaking, where we’d be eating, etc. I opened the door and it was almost like stepping back in time. There was Shawn, Mike Grass, Troy Lewis, Roberta Burch, and Troy Tait spinning records! Troy was from the class of 86 but I knew him well. It was kind of like stepping back in a time machine, only everybody had a couple of wrinkles around their eyes and they got rid of the 80’s hair styles. Well, everybody but Troy. (Trust me, I owe him plenty of shots back for that lowering of the microphone joke he pulled. Funny, yes, but I didn’t get a chance to retaliate).
Steve helped me get set up, I typed in my top 10 list and made my way back to my friends. We hid out in the ballroom as long as possible, blowing up balloons and swapping stories. I did have a bit of a sad pause, and that was to walk briefly by the table set up to remember those who had passed. Leslie Bringhurst was there and she was great, telling me a bit about all those who had passed away. Trent, one of my best friends, Lisa, one of my first girl friends (we “went together” as we called it in middle school) along with Trent’s brother Toby and Toby’s friend Jeremy had been killed tragically about midway through the summer after graduation. Trent, I believe, ran over a black cat in Pepperwood shortly after graduation and often said that wasn’t a good sign. Shortly after that I was backed over by a 28 ft dual prop boat on our graduation trip, still have some very cool scars to show for it, and it looked like the summer was indeed off to a bad start. I’ll never forget the day Grant called me to tell me we lost our friends. I was downstairs in my basement, legs still heavily bandaged, watching movie after movie, entertaining visitor after visitor. It actually wasn’t a bad way to spend most days. Grant called and simply said, “Trent’s gone.” I really don’t remember much after that. Funerals, slideshows, crying. Man, I think up to that point I had rarely cried. I had never dealt with death and I let it all out.
And there we were looking at pictures, including Trent and Lisa’s. I felt some pretty deep emotions coming on and admittedly I turned them back. But then I looked at pictures of many of the others who died that I hadn’t been aware of. There were so many, some who died very tragically. I was truly humbled and grateful for the display. One who stuck out was Rusty Eyre. I talk about Rusty often and had no idea he had died. Rusty and I met each other in the 7th or 8th grade. We played basketball together many, many times. Rusty was a good friend and a great basketball player. Rusty grew and grew and grew and then moved out of our boundaries. He played for Jordan. During our sophomore year we played Jordan. I was cocky and thought I was pretty tough. Rusty fouled me and I jumped up and ran over and got in his face…well, his belly button. He swatted me away like a bug. I jumped up and realized that he could have crushed me! Rusty meant no harm, I had run up to him like I was going to do something. With that simple swat I vowed right then and there to get rid of my temper and I swear to you it left me and never came back. I’ve told that story at many youth firesides and with clients in session, talking about making a decision and never looking back. I’ll never forget Rusty. I hope his family stumbles on this someday and knows that he was a great guy.
Steve eventually came in and reminded us that the actual reunion was starting to take place out in the hallway, a pre-dinner reception. Shawn, his beautiful and funny wife Natalie, Wendy and I essentially locked arms and headed out in unison, almost afraid of what was behind the doorway. The first steps outside weren’t too painful. Julie Lund’s husband was there taking dance pictures. We posed for an old high school-style picture and then the exchange of the evening took place. Admittedly this one threw me, and it took a while to recover.
Shawn and I were separated, just a bit, but separated. I saw someone that I was happy to say I remembered, his name is Mark Brandt. Mark and I weren’t great friends in high school but we always said hello and were nice to each other. So here was somebody I hadn’t seen in 20 years and his name came right back to me. I was shocked! This was definitely a good sign. I walk up to him and say, “Mark Brant!” and I reach out my hand. Mark sees me and apparently doesn’t have the same memory experience and mistakes me for Garr Ovard. I didn’t see Garr at the reunion but I could see us getting mistaken for each other after 20 years. At this point Shawn is coming up behind me. He hears the name “Garr” and latches onto the name and shakes Mark’s hand and says, “Hi Garr!” Classic reunion exchange. I walk away, Wendy is laughing and all of a sudden I almost feel some type of anxiety attack coming on. I’m looking out into the crowd and there are A LOT of people and I’m barely recognizing anybody.
From left, Shawn Lindquist, Spencer Meikle and Shem Vander Veur, all over 6’4”, me, not so much.
I’m immediately met by Jeff Yates, remember him, and I make my way into the crowd. Tracey Robinson stops us, I remember her, we’re on a roll.Wendy and I both know her so we stop. Wendy chats Tracey up and I go to rescue Shawn. He’s still talking with Mark, he’s stuck. I grab him and we’re back together in a “safe place.”
Here’s where I need some help. Somebody came up to me and admittedly I didn’t recognize him. He said, “You probably don’t remember me but I read your blog and I’m really impressed with your career change.” We talked for a minute and I really, really don’t feel I gave him the time or attention he was looking for. If you are that guy, PLEASE drop me a note at tonyoverbay at gmail dot com. I’d love to speak more about it with you. I can honestly say that my career change from computer geek to marriage and family therapist was scary and wonderful all at the same time. Heck, I’m writing this part of this entry in my office thanks to a client cancellation…and I still get his fee! You can’t beat that! Truthfully, though, one of the book projects I’m considering is one about career change. I have a lot of thoughts on that. I’d actually love to hear from other folks who have changed careers for the better (or for the worse) and perhaps that’ll push me over the edge to get something in print.
One more specific story that I thought was fun. Marty Black came up to me…sporting an equally attractive bald pate. You could definitely see that bald was indeed in by a quick glance around the room. Other bald friends who wore it well, Professor Matt Bradley and computer wiz Rob Clausing. Those who didn’t wear it so well…I’m kidding, I didn’t make that mental note. I did have one guy come up to me and say that he would shave his head but his wife was afraid of what he’d look like. You know who you are…shave your head, I can’t lie, you’re just a few months away from “comb over” and nobody needs to go there.
Oh yeah, Marty Black. Apparently Marty was running the Salt Lake marathon a couple of years ago. He’s nearing the finish and he said the announcer, who calls out random folks crossing the line, giving their names and cities they came from, says, “Now crossing the finish line, Tony Overbay from Lincoln, California!” He lost me in the post-race crowd…you know, all the interviews, groupies, etc. Actually I’m guessing that was the marathon I ran with a broken hand. When I finished it was the size of a volleyball. Apparently, the blood that was in my hand was supposed to be in my legs. That caused cramping and when I finished I didn’t walk so well. So I think I was in the medical tent getting an ear full from a nurse asking me why I ran with a broken hand (it was because I already had bought the plane fair and I wanted the t-shirt and finishers medal!).
As we continued to make our way into the reception area my panic quickly faded. There were enough recognizable faces to go around and I quickly became good with a quick glance at the name tag. Although there were a couple of you that wore things that covered up your name tag. At the 30 year we need to throw somebody at the nametag table that has to sign off on where you put the name tag. If it’s not visible you’re out of there!
I realize at this point that I’ll never be able to remember or mention all the folks that I saw and talked to. So I hope no one takes offense. Wendy and I made our way toward the 6’7” Spencer Meikle, he was easy to spot, and on the way there ran into several old friends including Scott Heartly, Jenny Wood and, well, OK, somebody I talked to for a couple of minutes who had the name tag problem going on. Longish, shortish hair, glasses, heavyset thin guy? Actually, his wife may have been in my class. Regardless, nice people, they live in Salt Lake, nice to see you, etc., etc., and we moved on.
Before long we were ushered back into the ballroom for dinner and the night’s program. Now the meet and greet was going full steam. I spotted Paul and Dionne Evans and Wendy and Dionne talked running for about 10 minutes while I went from table to table saying hello and hugging everybody in sight. I made up my mind early in the night that hugging was fair game. I don’t care if you were too cool, man or woman, short or tall, I was going to hug you. None of the one-armed “man hug” either, I’m going in for the old-fashioned two-arms-around-the-back-haven’t-seen-you-in-20-years-good-to-see-you-hug.
We eventually made our way to our table. We were seated at the front table. Steve had us at the “reserved” table since I was speaking. I had made a pact with Shawn to sit with him, and despite the fact that Shawn was senior management at Omniture, the company where Shawn and Steve worked; Steve didn’t acquiesce and let Shawn sit at our table. I think I got caught between a corporate power play. No doubt Shawn will make Steve pay in the not-too-distant future.
My dinner guests were Mike Grass and his wife. Steve and his wife. Good friend Jason Wagner, Alta legend Don Ward, who would be speaking before me, and Dr. Carey Judy and his wife, one of Wendy’s former classmates, Melissa Lowry. These were the Judy’s of Gunnison, UT I must add. They shared many Mayberry-like stories of life as the town Dr. and student government teacher in Gunnison. As a matter of fact, thanks to Melissa, and she doesn’t know this, I was able to fulfill one of my life’s goals. I was able to use the line, “finally the student becomes the teacher!” Now, I always planned on using this line after I had gone evil and I had my master in my clutches, ready to dispose of him on my way to rule the world, but I figured that might not ever happen so I better make hay while the sun shines so to speak. You see, Melissa was in student government at Alta. Don Ward, seated at our table, was the student government teacher at Alta for about 100 years. So I said the line on behalf of Melissa to Mr. Ward…I guess you had to be there. A couple of other similar goals are to remove a glove and slap somebody on the way to challenging them to a duel, removing a cape before I perform and thwarting an evil genius while he “monologues” to me his plans to destroy the world. So perhaps I’ve seen a wee bit too much TV in my past?
The food was great. I even ate blue cheese much to the delight of my wife. I had gone on a decent run that morning and then we found ourselves running around like crazy during the day trying to satiate the kids with activities to tire them out for grandma and grandpa who were watching them later that evening. Yes, we had eaten at the Training Table for lunch, but it was our 3RD visit! I was turkey / bacon’d out and I ate a salad! You can’t run 10 miles in the AM and dine on salad! So when the salad at the reunion came I downed it quickly, rotten cheese and all.
The program read that we’d hear from Don Ward, then a game of human bingo and then I’d get a chance to speak. Let me backup. Jason Wagner was talking with a group of us earlier and he made a self-depreciating joke about putting on 60 lbs since high school. I cleverly told him that he looked good, that I wouldn’t have guessed he had gained a pound over 55. He told me he’d get me back. Yet, when he came up to me and asked me if we could change things around, put me right after Don Ward, I sensed no ill will.
Don Ward was asked to talk about overcoming adversity. This is a man who is an icon, someone known and loved by thousands from his days at Alta and someone who remembers ALL by name. When we sat down together he immediately started asking me about my family, he remembered coming to my brother Tim’s funeral back in 90, even remembered the day he died. This is a man who discovered he had cancer almost one year ago to the day he was sitting at our reunion and who has battled it bravely. He was fresh off another round of chemo yet he looked great. Mr. Ward made people laugh and he made people cry. About halfway through his talk all I could do was think about an interview I heard with a comedian who talked about getting a gig at a policeman’s ball. He said that one of the policemen brought him up and then before announcing him paused and said, “Wait, we first want to have a tribute to one of our own shot in the line of duty a week ago.” They brought up his widow, his partner, not a dry eye in the place. Seconds after they were done the police officer said, “OK, so now put your hands together for a man who is going to make us laugh…” Here I was with 15 minutes of jokes coming off of a speech about living life to its fullest, about overcoming adversity. Mr. Ward reminded us of the tragic accident I mentioned earlier with Trent, Lisa, Toby and Jeremy. He closed strong and people gave him a standing ovation.
Thankfully Jason stepped to the mike and said, “The only person I’d hate to be right now is Tony Overbay.” That brought a laugh and made things a little easier. Then the short jokes started. Steve and Troy Tait hit the stage and adjusted my mic to a couple of feet off the ground, grabbed me a stool, it was a great way to soften folks up.
Alrighty, so to the best of my memory, here are the jokes I threw out there…
- Mr. Ward talked about how the current Alta graduating class had built a school in Africa. I mentioned how times have changed; I think we made a rug that hung on the wall.
- I shared a memory of one of the final school assemblies in which the incoming student body officers made fun of us. They had Mike Bills throw on a bald cap to play me. At the time I thought, “receding maybe, but never bald!” I was wrong.
- I then went into the famed “school spirit” skits. How we’d lose our spirit, Back in Black would play and eventually, a Hawk would save the day.
- I talked about how a reunion a year would stimulate the economy as everybody in the room had no doubt bought new clothes, diet products, lipo, hair plugs, cars, you name it. My wife’s favorite joke, I mentioned how the folks at Drakkar were scratching their heads over why all of a sudden a spike in sales completely out of the blue. I did a bit more on cologne.
- I thank folks on behalf of therapists everywhere for attending. I said it jokingly but I more than paid for my trip to Utah talking to clients about their issues from high school, reunions included.
- I then went into my top 10 list of signs you knew you were a child of the 80’s. I need to get that from Steve Affleck. I can’t lie; I had a long list and can’t remember which 10 I used.
Alrighty, here are the top 10 signs that you know that you were a child of the 80’s…
10. You know the meaning of wax on / wax off. (Can I just add that while the Karate Kid has achieved cult status for those of us from the era, I brought it up to a 12-year-old client a few weeks ago who is very much into Karate and he didn’t have a clue who Daniel-san was!)
9. Two words: The clapper! (I still walk into a room and clap and sing, “Clap on, clap off, the clapper!)
8. You can feel St. Elmo’s Fire Burning in You! (True confession I made to my wife, and let me say, this one got a bigger laugh than I expected from the crowd so I feel I really missed out…I never saw St. Elmo’s Fire!).
7. You know all the words to “I’m just a bill, sitting here on Capitol Hill” and School House Rock. (Alright, I didn’t expect to throw in my comments on every one of these but how many of us threw $40 at the DVD boxed set only to get a lukewarm reaction from our own kids on these…c’mon, Conjunction Junction, what IS your function?).
6. The phrase, “Where’s the Beef” still doubles you over in laughter. (This is absolutely true, RIP Clara Peller…and no, I didn’t have to go Google her name).
5. You remember when Pee Wee wasn’t a pervert. (Pee Wee’s Playhouse, we all watched it even when we were a little bit too old, true?).
4. You also remember when Michael Jackson wasn’t considered something of a pervert either. (Whitney, if you’re reading this I do remember the Michael Jackson poster in your locker in 8th grade).
3. Top 10 lists were a funny way to make a joke. (This one was from my wife; she thought it very 80’s of me to think I needed a top 10 list).
2. If you remember when you heard that drinking soda and eating pop rocks would make your stomach explode. (Be honest, have you tried it since? Pop rocks made a come back a few years ago and Wendy and I bought some. Just to be funny she threw a few in her mouth and downed them with Caffeine Free Diet Dr. Pepper. Thankfully it was caffeine free, or was it the diet? I’m sure if it had been leaded or full calorie I’d be a widower right now!).
1. There was nothing to question about Bert and Ernie living together. (Can you tell I live in California?)
I then discussed rules for the picnic the following day. I brought up the fact that no doubt we had all fibbed a bit on how important and cool we were in high school. By show of hands I asked how many people had hit game winning home runs, were class presidents, etc. I then decided I’d share some of the photos of what I had been up to, what I had told my kids. Let me see if I can add them here.
Here I am immediately after high school. Many people don’t realize I was a number one draft pick in the NBA.
I was known for my hops. Here I am throwing one down in a game against the Heat. We lost the game but I’ll never forget looking eye-to-eye with the rim.
Shortly after high school the times were a changing, particularly in Europe. Here I am helping tear down the Berlin Wall.
These next two pictures truly bring back a lot of good memories. For the most part I kept it on the DL, or “down low” but I played a significant role in ending the Cold War. This pictures shows the “Three Muskateers” as we liked to call ourselves. Regan, Gorbachev and Overbay.
After years of hanging out, playing Yahtzee and trading college stories, I felt the timing was finally right and encouraged them to finally put this Cold War thing to rest. Here we are signing the treaty.
From there I realized I truly did have a love of politics and I travelled to see the troops for Desert Storm with George Bush. The two of us spent several days interacting with the troops.
I was becoming known in underground circles as somebody who could restore justice in a timely fashion. This led to several projects, some went better than others.
While brokering peace was definitely one of my high points, this was a particularly low time for me. From where I stood it was pretty obvious that he was bunching up his hand. I started to say something but was quickly silenced by members of the defense.
But nothing quite beat the feeling of being in outer space. To be honest, I really only did this so that when somebody was talking about me and they said, “Hey, he’s no rocket scientist,” I could say, “Yes, actually I am a rocket scientist.” The lengths I went through at times for a good comeback!
Overall I had a great time in front of a crowd of my peers. I did have a temporary pause at one point when it dawned on me that these weren’t a group of computer geeks, they weren’t people who wanted parenting advice, this wasn’t a regional youth conference or fireside, this was a group of my peers, people who were the same age, who had some common interests. But just looking out and seeing a lot of smiling faces made that feeling pass quickly.
We played a fun game of human bingo, people standing who had run a marathon, owned their own business, had a bunch of kids or killed a man just to watch him die. Every time you had done any of the things mentioned you put a star on your forehead. One of the better jokes of the evening, after a couple of folks had gotten “bingo” which was done by getting 6 stars on your forehead (or maybe it was 8) Steve Affleck asked if we should continue. Somebody yelled out we should play “blackout” meaning you cover the board. Steve said, “No, that wouldn’t be fair to Tony.” Not a bad bald joke I must admit and I thought I had heard them all.
I’m at 5,000 words right now. I’ll have to condense some of this into a tight 600 words for my newspaper column at some point. I’ll also eventually need to get back to work, so I’ll wrap up with random thoughts. (Inserted note – see the beginning, here’s where we run out of emotional budget and wrap things up. If this were a movie here comes a bunch of car crashes and a nice happy ending!).
During the presentation of the time capsule Dr. Judy spoke and he was starting to get sappy…in a good way. In such a good way that I was ready for him to close his talk like any good member of the LDS Church would, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. I so wanted him to forget where he was and close this way. But just when I thought he was going to do it, he stopped himself and said, “Steve told me to make sure I didn’t close in the name of Jesus Christ, so I’ll just sit down now.” Funny moment.
Another great joke at my expense was when Jason Wagner was talking about what to put in the time capsule. It was an actual capsule of some sort, looked a foot or two high and a few inches around. Jason said, “Tony, I think you’ll fit in there just perfect.” Touché, he got the last laugh.
We took a group picture. We tried to get everybody up on the stage for one shot but there were too many of us. I’m not sure what the final tally was but I believe Steve said we were pushing 300 people a day or two before the reunion. So we divided into two groups. I wanted to be with friends in both groups so I sort of snuck in both pictures! Time for a little Where’s Waldo…where am I?
After the picture it was pure socializing. I think at this point everybody was far more comfortable and we all made our way from table to table reconnecting. I couldn’t even begin to name names of the folks I spent time with, but a few that come to mind. My good friend Shem and his wife. He got married last year and didn’t invite me, so he’s still a bit in the dog house, but if he and his wife make it out this way I’ll let him buy Wendy and me a nice expensive dinner and all will be forgiven. I saw Rhett Marshall, Brett Oliver, Mike Houmand and Matt Lee. Chantelle Curry, Teresa Andruss, Whitney Ellgren and her husband. I saw Whit a few years ago on a trip to SLC at the Mayan restaurant, both of us semi-freaking out seeing each other in full parental mode. Dustin Erickson, Sjon Benson, Robyn, Mo, Jill, Kristin, Karmen, Mel, Jody and Doug, Tammy and Trent, OK, I’ll stop now. There were SO many more people I saw. I spent some time talking to Amy Poulton who was kind enough to say that she read my blog, and was inspired by my running. Little does she know how intimidated I was at her gymnastic workouts in school. Wait, wait…does this count as a time when I can say, “now the student becomes the teacher!” I think it does! Scratch that earlier entry from Melissa, this one is my own!
Second note with regard to Amy. I once dated Amy, when we were freshman, or possibly sophomores I believe. She dumped me, or at least that’s how I remember it. We remained friends throughout high school but in reality Amy was probably the only “ex” that I bumped into at the reunion. For those afraid of running into an old flame at a reunion rest assured it wasn’t a bad thing. There wasn’t the drama that you see in movies. It was good to see her and she seems to have a great husband. I’m happy for her. I can’t lie, it’s a little weird that she and I both have 10-year-old girls named Alex, but hey, stranger things happen!
Wendy and I finally decided to call it a night a little past 11 PM. Wendy was a trooper. She knows a lot of these folks but she wasn’t too keen on coming as she knew I was going to be moving and shaking so to speak. I tried to keep her in on every conversation and she really was as supportive as she could be. We ran into a couple of people “flying solo” who said that their spouses were sitting at a table waiting for them to be done. Nice side note, my oldest daughter Alexa, age 10, was at grandma’s house with the newly discovered art of texting. She texted Wendy and me all night. It didn’t dawn on me until on the drive back to California late Sunday that I don’t think we have a texting plan on that phone. Can’t wait for that bill.
Saturday we reconvened at Draper Park with kids. I spent a bit of time playing with my kids and moving about the crowd. One small confession. As good as I had been leading up to Friday night’s events, i.e. not getting hair plugs or liposuction, driving the crappy old van out from California instead of my fancy Jeep Commander (I had to throw that in, though, didn’t I?) I felt this odd desire to go out and buy some super cool park toy for my kids to play with on Saturday. I wanted to make sure my kids were having a good time, that all of the other parents were impressed and, more importantly that we avoided any kind of kid melt down.
We ate breakfast that morning at the Cracker Barrel. Fantastic place for breakfast, they don’t have them in California. The Cracker Barrel has a country store attached to every restaurant and they have a fair amount of, unique, expensive toys. No whoopee cushion, though, something my kids and I are trying to find rather unsuccessfully over the past few months. We’ve checked several dollar stores and no luck. My kids have never experienced the whoopee in whoopee cushion, I feel it’s my duty (or is that doody!?)? So after we ate I made my way into the store and proceeded to buy a couple of these little rocket-thingys that you put on one finger and pulled back, let go and watch them sail to the moon. I also bought a parachute guy that I’m just now realizing we never broke out of the package. As a matter of fact I’m guessing that bad boy is lost in the van, or, worse yet, thrown away. Well, the rockets were a dud. I liked them, but my kids tried them a couple of times and just ended up snapping them backwards onto their fingers. But, thankfully, the kids were well behaved, it didn’t cost me any bribe money, and the entire park experience was a good one.
It was great seeing all these little people who somewhat resembled the bigger people with nametags on that had familiar last names. My kids had a great time despite the heat, and thanks to the unlimited supply of otter pops. Nice touch! I let my 4-year-old Jake go sick on the cooler, bad choice of words. He ate enough otter pops to theoretically get sick on the cooler but he never did. I think he was approaching double figures when we finally left.
We saw a couple of people that hadn’t made it the night before including long-time friend Jimmy Gale and his wife and son, Jadi and Kevin, Scott Bruder. What a wonderful, wonderful reunion. I can’t believe the amount of time and energy put into organizing an event of this size. I was so grateful for the large number of folks that put down their insecurities and inhibitions and attended. The event far, far exceeded my expectations. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was an 11. In the cookie world, it was a fudge covered Oreo. Thanks again to all who helped organize and all who attended. We’ll see you in another 10 years! If you’re here reading from the class of 88 I’d love for you to comment below with your name and please, if you have a blog yourself, list it in your comments, I'd love to exchange links.