Monday, June 21, 2010

Patty: My Fun-Loving High School Classmate

I recently received an email message from Patty, through our high school class email list. It was a delightful message, recounting how Patty had recently reconnected with another high school classmate and reminiscing about high school adventures. This post will reflect on Patty's message.

First, I will mention that Patty and I and many of our classmates attended not only high school but also Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and the elementary grades at the same all-girls Catholic school. So we spent our childhood and adolescent years together.

After our most recent class reunion, one of our classmates very generously spent time putting together a class email list through which we share news. This classmate continues to maintain and update our class email list.

Patty recently sent an email message to the class through our email list. She told how she had recently reconnected with another classmate and updated us with that classmate's news. Then, Patty went on to reminisce about an adventure that she and this classmate had shared during high school. The two had doubled-dated on a Friday evening, stayed out all night, watched the sun rise at Cafe du Monde - and then Patty had had to show up at 8 a.m. on Saturday to take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test for university admission)!

Patty had written about all this in such a delightful and funny way that I found myself laughing and laughing. That memory of partying all night and then dashing to the SAT for 8 a.m. is so exactly like Patty.

It is also so completely unlike me. As I read Patty's message, I realized with regret that I have no high school memories like that - not one. I never once did anything the least bit wild. I never once stayed out all night partying. I never even stayed UP all night for any reason!

I studied - all the time. I was always impeccably prepared for class, handed in impeccable homework, aced all my exams, and made impeccable grades. I spent my time being uptight, studious, and impeccable. When I took the SAT, I went to bed early the night before, got a good night's sleep, woke up in time for a good breakfast, and arrived early and well prepared at the SAT site.

As a result, I had high grades and high SAT scores. Patty had fun.

I was not at all close to Patty in high school. Sadly, I didn't see much to admire in Patty's approach to life. I was blind. I was also very authority-oriented - and those authorities gave lots of praise for high grades, not for fun.

Over the years, I think I've lightened up some. I now admire Patty - a lot. Patty knew what was important. Patty could say, as I couldn't, "To hell with grades and what the nuns say is important - tomorrow may be the SAT, but tonight it's time for fun!" I wish I had done this every once in a while.

I dare say that Patty's life has been far more fun-filled than mine has. And what does one want to look back upon at the end of one's life - a life-time of high grades or a life-time of fun? I so very much hope that Patty has kept her fun-loving spirit over the years. Her recent email message indicates that she has.

I can learn a lot from Patty. I wish I had been open to learning from her during our high school years. But I like to think that it's not too late. Now - every once in a while - I intend to give myself a Patty Day!

POST-SCRIPT: Another of our classmates read my response to Patty's email message and pointed out another side to the story. How is it that Patty was able to stay out all night during high school? Is it not odd that Patty's parents hadn't given their adolescent daughter a curfew? Yes, something is wrong here. While it's true that I should have had more fun during high school, it's also true that some adult should have been looking out far more closely for Patty.

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