Oh what a night.*
My 30th high school reunion was this past weekend and I am exhausted. Exhilarated. And as event coordinator, exonerated.
It was a great evening. Most everybody showed up. Most everybody paid. And most everybody repeated the same lie, I mean, line, all night long.
“You haven’t changed a bit!”
Indeed, the Fort Johnson High School Class of 1980 looked great. Had fun. Took full advantage of the open bar. And in the end, had to be swept out the door by weary, broom-wielding caterers. It’s unclear whether the bartenders were more eager to be relieved of us or our 1970s playlist (think The Village People, The Commodores and The Bee Gees).
Just as fun was the chance to meet spouses and dates and hear their perspectives. My favorite line came from a wife who said, regarding her successful and loving husband, “If I had known him in high school, I never would’ve gone out with him. Much less married him.”
In fact, after all the memory-sharing and memory-making and merrymaking, that’s what I took away from this weekend. A direction taken as a teenager does not a lifelong journey make.
Parents worry. Trust me. I’m a worrying champ. I want my kids to be happy in life. I want them to be successful adults. I want them to be contributing citizens. So I’m always wondering: Are they working hard enough now? Are they well-rounded? Are they taking the best courses in school? Are they generous? Are they musical? Are they athletic? Are they scholarly? Do they have any heretofore undiscovered and scholarship-worthy talents that I have yet to unmine – perhaps an unnatural gift for Russian literature or bungee-jumping or harmonica playing? Are they always doing their best?
Heck, no. No one can. Least of all me. However, the moral of my reunion story is that, even if kids aren’t always doing their best, they can still become happy, contributing, successful adults.
The route to “happiness” depends upon the individual. I know plenty of people, who, as kids, never missed a summer school opportunity. People who “took an extra lap” in high school. Teens who may have “skirted” the law. Kids who made college choices based on nothing more than whims, hormones and the state drinking age.
And despite it all, they're now happy, contributing, successful adults. Many, in fact, said they’ve never been happier.
Oh what a night.
Just don’t tell my kids.
*The Four Season, 1975
Of course I've got a recipe. It's what we had for dinner tonight, but had nothing to do with the story. Despite that, it was a huge hit and prompted Darling Daughter to ask, "How do you come up with these recipes?" Hmm. Maybe she'll be a chef one day. A happy, successful, well-rounded, well-paid, altruistic chef. Could happen.
Rice and Chicken with Proscuitto, Basil and Parsley
4 oz minced or finely cubed proscuitto
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, peeled and impaled on a toothpick
1 cup raw rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
In a large, lidded saucepan, saute proscuitto in olive oil over medium high heat. When lightly browned, increase heat to high, and stir in garlic, rice, wine, chicken broth, salt, red pepper flakes and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook, lidded, for 10 minutes. Gently stir in chicken and fresh herbs. Replace lid and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, or until rice is done. Let rest 4-5 minutes, fluff with fork and serve hot.