After a fashion

May 23, 2012

Last night, while I waited for Erin to return from a night out with friends at the movies, I watched the season finale of Glee. I watched it again tonight with Anna and Malia, who were intrigued about the idea of graduating from high school and who had to say goodbye to whom.

Each of the main characters gets a short voiceover to reminisce about the distances they’ve come during their four years. Kurt uses his to express pride in bringing fashion, and acceptance, to McKinley High School.

I can’t say that I had the same effect at changing hearts and minds among my fellow students, but I can say with certainty that I was not the most fashionable student at DeKalb High School.

Yet, for my graduation party, I collaborated with my father to have a faux-fashion show in the garage, my family and friends seated around as dad announced each change of outfit and explained their significance for a young man setting out from his home, off to college, sure to travel the world, maybe to fall in love and have a family.

I just dug out a couple of photos from that day. They’re too blurry and dark to scan and post here. In one, I’m wearing the college outfit — white shirt and bow tie, slacks and a cloth belt, friendship bracelet, blazer slung over my shoulder — and gazing directly at the camera. I was ready to say my goodbyes and head off to John Carroll University (where I’ll return in a few weeks to celebrate a 20-year reunion).

My high school years were four wonderful years. Obviously, 20 years out of college means high school was a long time ago. But my memories of that time are strong, and, yes, gleeful. Last week, with the season’s first sweet corn on the table, I mentioned to Anna and Malia that I’d been DeKalb’s Corn Fest King. They wanted to know if I’d worn a crown — nope, just some lemon leaves — but I grabbed my senior yearbook and turned to the page showing me as Homecoming king. There were other mentions of my accomplishments, but the most important pages were those at the back of the book, filled with the farewell notes and doodles and autographs of my friends.

In the end, its the friendships we fashion, whether in high school, college, Peace Corps or the overlapping networks of social media, that should give us something to sing about.

Read this 2005 post about an essay by Calvin Trillin with his observations of my home town and county.

Anton Zuiker

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