Reunion Checklist: Hair, Waist & Wife

It’s been twenty years since I graduated from Robert E. Lee high school in Tyler, Texas. I’m headed back there this weekend for a reunion.

An older wiser friend of mine says there’s no need to be anxious. None at all, he says. There are only three things that matter at high school reunions, he says: hair, waist and wife.


Believe it or not, much improved since 1992. Right after graduation I entered my Nirvana stage and grew my hair out long. This was immediately followed by the Jars of Clay phase, during which I pulled said long hair into a ponytail. This was followed by my sister-in-law turning my locks into the topiary I have today.

And yes, it has turned gray and receeded slightly and, yes, after I shower it does look like someone shaved a cat in there. But the important thing is – and let’s not lose sight of the important thing, friends – I still have my hair. Most of it.


When I graduated high school I was 5′ 10″ and weighed 120 pounds fully clothed and dripping wet. I’ll give you a moment to let that visual sink in sufficiently. Mmm…moving on.

My waist has expanded over the years, but for me that’s been a slide in the right direction, I think we can all agree. I’m now 6′ 2″ and, well, heavier. Depends if there’s a lot of humidity and exactly how large my hair is. On a Summer day in Houston, when in need of a trim, I’m a hoss. In Arizona? Not so much. But still much improved over 1992.

first date
First date with Becky.


In my youth I was picky and loyal and, apparently, brotherly. So, it was either “I like you like a brother,” or we went on one date and I never asked her out again, or we stayed together for six months to three years. And I always dated better than I deserved. Apparently (band) chicks dig sax players.

But then I graduated. And picked up a guitar. And the Summer after high school its superior powers caused an otherwise discerning woman four years older and waaaay outta my league to ask me out on a date. We’ve been together ever since.


So, yea, I’ve got nothing to worry about. The reunion is high school without Algebra, bullies, soy burgers or curfew. And with better hair, a thicker waist and a smokin’ hot date? Bring it.

Of course, these three things aren’t what matter most to me as we head to Texas.

I’m going back home because I want to see my first best friends, the people who loved me enough to be seen in public with me despite that hair of mine…or the million character defects that made it hard somedays for even me to like me. Those twelve guys, and cruising Broadway in a sweet RX-7 on Friday nights listening through a stack of cassette tapes, got me through high school. A face-to-face thank you is long overdue.

And you graduated when? What was your reunion like?


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