So tonight I was at the gym, watching YouTube clips, when I came across the above photo.
It appeared in a video I prepared eight years ago for the Mahopac High School Class of 1990 20th reunion. To the left sit a handful of my classmates at graduation. That’s Mark Dessi with his mouth open, Marc Gasperino directly behind him, John Caracappa to the far left. These were good kids, clearly thrilled to reach an enormous life milestone and embracing the moment.
What I absolutely love about the image, however, is the man to the right.
Although Mahopac is a small town, I don’t recognize him. I’ve always assumed he worked at the school, perhaps in janitorial services. He might, however, just be a guest at graduation. An older brother. An uncle. Hell, perhaps he’s proving some sort of service. EMS. Sound system.
No matter his role, however, his facial expression and body language scream: “I just want to go home.”
At the time, 18 and energetic, I probably couldn’t relate. Now, at 45, I pretty much have that expression three or four times per day. When you’re a high schooler, everything is fun and funny and cool. Indoor farts. Burps. Tripping. Smells. Gestures. It’s all a big gag, in that wonderful way of the young. Yet, as the years pass, it shifts. I remember being a teen and thinking the Police Academy films were uproarious. Um, have you watched a Police Academy film after turning, oh, 20? They’re brutal.
The man in the above photo doesn’t find whatever is happening to be fun. Or funny. Or memorable. Were cell phones around in 1990, he’d be staring at his. Playing Candy Crush or something.
“I just want to go home,” he’s thinking.
I feel him.