Preparing to Meet Old Friends: Will we Have Anything to Say?

Oct 22nd, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

It has only been 50 years.  Those few years we were together in college sped by so rapidly.  Friendships were made, memories were shaped, experiences taught us much. When graduation came, now those 50 years ago, we went our separate ways.  Some maintained contact, others have had little to no interaction in those intervening  years.  It will be much like registration day when we first arrived at the huge Union building, except that everyone will have changed, recognition may take some appraisal.  Until we surreptitiously observe the name tag we may have no idea who it is we are encountering.

And, the next question is, will we have anything to say?  What will it take to break the ice?  What if the memory is so far away that recall will take some prompting?  The good news is that most of us will be in the same predictament.  By the time we graduated, my hair was thinning.  I stood a little taller, having now lost 2 inches of my height.  My weight was less, but not so much that that will be a factor in identity.  My memory is not so sharp.  I find that events and episodes of that long ago do not come up quite so easily.  Promptings from others who have cemented those occasions into their recall will help me. 

But, what will I have to say? What, beyond the ordinary autobiographical information, will I have to offer? Usually, I am quite good at focusing the attention on the other person, knowing how much most love

to tell their own story.  Because it will be the weekend of elections, I gently pray that those subjects will be judiciously avoided.  Career paths can always consume time and occupy at least feigned interest. Naturally, the subject of children and grandchildren allows for legitimate bragging rights.  Exercising sensitivity for those spouses who were not then nor have been since involved with most of the names and faces.  Avoid embarrassment by being sure they are included appropriately.

On the occasion of our last get together, I boldly suggested to one very popular young woman that we had never dated.  Her cryptic reply shut me off: “well you never asked.” That sent me stumbling to find someone else with whom a more appropriate conversational exploration might ensue. 

About the best one can do in some of the encounters is to pretend that you remember.  If it were important enough for another to remember some particular occasion, then reinforce their memory by hoisting the impression that you remember it too.  Most of us have become fairly good at social protocol.  Pretense is one of those strategies that can help get us through.  It is far better than confessing that you have no idea what they are talking about.  Remember how much water has gone under the old bridge since then. 

Finally, if conversations click and the focus turns to things that are germane and current, you may be in for the cultivation of  brand new friendships that aren’t dependent on the past.  That will then be the result of the test of wondering whether you will have anything to say!



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