I really enjoyed socializing with the class of 1986 in October of 2011. Much more than I did back in 1986. Back when I attended Westlake it was a very unique experience. Unique enough that my classmate John Spong wrote an article, Embarrassment of Riches, which was published in Texas Monthly back in 2005.
Not everyone in the school was wealthy or a gifted jock but it quickly became apparent who was. Cliques were quite ubiquitous in high school but at Westlake, they defined you and would either make you or break you. Hyline, cheerleaders and the beautiful and rich were “the popular people.” The “jocks” were, of course, the jocks. We had “the freaks” out at the smoking section and then “the geeks.” As John Spong so eloquently put it:
“Clothes mattered in a way that was altogether new. I’d always known, of course, what an alligator was, and I had a vague idea of what a polo player looked like. But I had no hint of how much it mattered to have one or the other stitched on your shirt or that there was pecking order to the worth of those labels: Izod alligator, good; Polo pony and mallet swinger, better; JCPenny fox, you can’t sit at our table today.”
Our parking lot was full of Corvettes, Porches, 280ZXs, BMWs, and a few Mercedes Benz. No one was embarrassed of their wealth. On the contrary, they flaunted it.
“There was no reason to be ashamed of (some of) our parents’ wealth, but there were other displays that should have been rethought. The homecoming football game during my senior year was played against Del Valle, an area where the primary industries were an Air Force base and a prison…. But the worst insult came when the visitors had to watch our homecoming queen nominees parade around the track at halftime in Mercedes convertibles.”
Back then we didn’t think and we didn’t care. But at my reunion last week I realized that this behavior many of us flaunted has disappeared. I know in my own life it is long gone. What I was so happy to see is that the cliques are gone and friendships are being extended and forged across new lines. Many that grew up in very privileged homes have chosen less profitable careers in order to help others. Others have become very successful yet remain very down to earth. And I was happy to see the many that have chosen to forgo their careers and stay home and be moms…and I just love seeing the joy in their eyes when they talk about how much they love this chosen career (which is the most difficult job in the world).
Some of my friendships are old (I’ve known my friend Lynn since we were 10) and others are newer. I treasure every single friendship that I have with these people. They are genuine, giving, and loving people. I’m proud of us all for overcoming the stigma and adolescent behaviors and becoming loving and accepting friends.
Still Rockin’ It