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Those Six Little Words
By: John Cox
Psychologically, the ties that bind us as human animals must surely be a myriad of illogical thought.
For instance, I worked for a factory in Louisville for six years and enjoyed the company of many of my co-workers, a few of which I sought out on a daily basis for conversation completely unrelated to the work place.
There was nothing deep, bonding, or sentimental about the relationships, but I did on occasion go on a hunting trip or some such excursion outside work with them.
I left that job almost four years ago to pursue the position I currently hold with another company. In the time since then I have had virtually no contact with the people I spent more time with than all my family members combined during that period. And it's not that I've gone out of my way to avoid them, my new job is less than a mile from the one I left. But by removing myself from the situation that brought me together with those people, I have completely lost any desire for further contact with them. I certainly don't wish any of them ill, but at the same time I wouldn't walk across the street to chat either. It's something along the lines of sheer indifference. So it would stand to reason that the situational aspect of my social interaction with them was the determining factor in whether I felt that they were an important part of my life.
With that stated, I have been amazed of late at the ease with which I can pick up a conversation, either in person or electronically, with people I have had no contact with for fifteen years or more. In some cases I had never spoken with the person at all but we had that one thing in common that seems to cross any barrier that might otherwise keep people apart. That determining factor is the possession of a diploma from Adair County High School.
Through the marvels of modern technology I have had people contact me just to say "hi," after they found out I went to school in Adair County. I'm not sure why this is important to people but it affects me the same way. A person bearing letters from such an esteemed institution of learning must surely be more worthy of mundane conversation than the average person you might meet who attended a snooty private school somewhere off.
Subject matter is irrelevant when I'm confronted with a fellow ACHS graduate. In some cases I have witnessed the gushing almost immediately deteriorate into a despicable display of "do you remembers."
I got sucked into a conversation at the Circle-R not long ago that turned into a discussion about the cultural significance of that little strip of asphalt some of us used to congregate on at Plum Point. Before this conversation took place, I wasn't even aware that the people I was talking with even existed, but they had gone to all the same places and partied with some of the same people that I had years ago.
We had a great time talking about the past, but it all started with that fateful question, "Where did you go to high school?" Any answer other than "Adair County" would have been the end of the discussion (after the obligatory polite nod of course--we are not savages after all, even if we didn't go to school together). Conversation with a "foreigner" would be pointless at best.
Since graduation night in 1988, I don't believe I have been back in the old high school building. I still don't have any longing desire to wander the halls and reminisce. My memories of the great times during that era don't really have anything to do with the school--it was the things we did when we could break away from the expectations of the future that remain memorable today.
So when you see somebody that looks vaguely familiar and it strikes a chord in the back of your mind, ask them that question. That person may just be some guy from off that reminds you of somebody you used to know. Or that person might have actually just gotten stung by a bee, and not normally be that swollen after all these years.
It might turn out to be somebody you do in fact know and with whom you desperately need to discuss in great detail the current condition and location of that Mustang they used to own. Alternately, the girl they used to date and later married might be single again and looking for you now.
You'll never know without those six little words. So no matter what you do, for the good of mankind and the civility of society in general, just ask, "Where did you go to high school?"
John Cox can be reached at email@example.com
Editor's Note: A few readers pointed to a discrepancy in our word count when this appeared in the print edition. However, any graduate of the institution in question would have to know--and we've had this independently confirmed by the Florida Election Board--that when you say the line, it's 6 words, not 7.
This story was posted on 2003-03-11 20:23:18
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