High School Reunion – reflections of a teacher’s pet

The Beaulieu College Head Boy (Sean Thorney) and I in 2005

Chura — our university dog — was always sick and at the vet. During one of our many visits to the big-tongued, big-boned, fluffy character that was Chura’s vet, we ended up talking about high school reunions.

The vet — whose name I can’t remember now — had just had his 40-year reunion and, as he was the proud Head Boy of his year, he was asked to make a great speech of sorts. (He told me this with a pushed-out chest and mighty gold star on his tooth).

“The jocks are still the jocks. The nerds are still the nerds. Nothing changes.”

The vet went on to say that the reunion of the Pretoria Boy’s High Class of 1967 came as quite a surprise to him, “You finish school and you think you change. But you don’t.” His reflections struck a chord.

“The jocks are still the jocks. The nerds are still the nerds. Nothing changes.”

I listened intently, took notes, and dared not mention that I had been Head Girl of my year and quite possibly the most stuck-up teenager on the planet.

The Beaulieu College Head Boy (Sean Thorney) and I in 2005
The Beaulieu College Head Boy (Sean Thorney) and I in 2005. Cringe.

It’s February 2015 — the year of my ten-year high school reunion — and I get a call from Jared Martin to say that Spencer Samuel is in town; and let’s all hook up for a drink, because it’s kinda surreal us Beaulieu College country bumpkins are all here in the bright lights of Monte Carlo.

They probably remembered me as the ambitious, Goody two-shoes who was a real pain in the ass

Nice, I thought.

Of course, they weren’t guys I’d hung around very much at school. Jared gate-crashed my 16th birthday boozed, wearing an XXS, red, leather jacket and sucking on a cigarette like a real 16-year-old boetjie. Mom barked at him to “GET OUT!” and he jumped straight through a closed window. A sobering experience, I assume.

And Spencer? Well, I seem to remember kissing him once at a disco or at the movies or behind a bush or whatever; but everyone in our year kissed Spencer and Rory Jean-Jacques. It was par for the course as a giddy, braces-wearing, hormone-raging teenager of 2005.

They probably remembered me as the ambitious, Goody two-shoes and teacher’s pet who loved making speeches and winning trophies; and who — quite frankly — was a real pain in the ass, especially for anyone wanting to smoke a sneaky spliff in the downstairs locker rooms.

From left to right: Me, Spencer & Jared in Monaco

So there we were, the three most unlikely Beaulieu Collegians, ten years on in Monaco,  hanging out and catching up on what we’d done with our lives and where we were headed.

And I must say, it was pretty darn awesome.

Maybe I’d imagined, perhaps even dreaded, my high school reunion as this moment in life when it feels like you’re 18 again. A time when you get picked on for your knobbly knees or growing too fast or not being able to catch a ball with one hand.

But you forget that by now, you’ve grown up and grown into yourself. You no longer care if you’re a nerd or a jock or a pain in the ass. Because life’s bigger after school and you’ve made friends with other nerds and other jocks and other pain in the asses —  people who like you for what you are. And you’ve walked your own way even if you’re not captain of the rugby team or head of the sport’s committee.

Maybe I’d dreaded my high school reunion as this moment in life when it feels like you’re 18 again

The three of us had all done so much in our ten years apart and had so many great stories to share. We could laugh at our school days and each other — and I no longer cared that Jared had shaved his eye-brows once or that Spencer dated my best friend. We took each other for who were were back then and who we are now.

A highly recommended experience!

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