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Friday, May 06, 2005

INsite: The Pregame Tailgate (May 2005) 

(on stands now...)

The Pregame Tailgate
By Andrew Fox

The “life events” parade rolls on this month here at TPT. Taking a seat: birthday number twenty-eight. Now batting: the ten-year high school reunion. Ten years? Where did the time go? And where did all those people from high school go?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but since commencement I’ve kept in touch with maybe five of my fellow Temple alums, out of more than 350 graduates. Translated roughly, that’s a smaller figure than Brad Ausmus’ batting average, Mack Brown’s winning percentage against OU, and the ratio of salads to greasy cheeseburgers in Michael Moore’s diet (or the ratio of truths to prevarications in his films) – combined.

Oddly enough, I still plan to attend. Like most people I want to see what everyone is up to these days. Who got fat and/or bald? Who still lives at home with the folks? Who else managed to stay single and kid-free? It’s all very exciting once you get past the inherent awkwardness.

It’s also hard to believe that ten years have gone by since high school. That means I’ve been living here in Austin for a full decade, and a lot has changed in that time.

When I arrived at the University of Texas in the fall of 1995 to start my freshman year, John Mackovic still roamed the sidelines at Memorial Stadium, which was still Memorial Stadium, sans the hyphentated “Darrel K Royal” opening. The stadium’s east side had no upper deck then, and a track still circled the Astroturf playing field, which had not yet been whored out to honor Joe Jamail.

Nobody in Austin knew the name Rick Barnes back in ’95. Texas basketball meant Tom Penders, whose “Runnin’ Horns” launched threes at will, played no defense, and always gave high seeds a tough game before bowing out in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.

Over at Disch-Falk Field a legend manned the home dugout, but his name was Cliff Gustafson. Augie Garrido was merely that guy from Cal State-Fullerton, who most Texas fans would begrudgingly admit had surpassed Coach Gus as college baseball’s most dominant figure.

Outside the Forty Acres Austin had very little in the way of sports. Hockey’s popularity explosion had not yet brought the Ice Bats to town, the Astros’ AA farm club made their home in Jackson, Miss., not Round Rock, and arena football was that gimmicky sport that ESPN always aired at 2 a.m. on Saturday.

The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers ruled the NFL in those days. George Steinbrenner’s Yankees hadn’t even sniffed a division title in years, and the San Antonio Spurs were the team that seemed destined to forever carry the “chokers” tag.

Yeah, things have definitely changed. Author Charlotte Perkins Gillman might have said it best when she wrote, “while we flatter ourselves that things remain the same, they are changing under our very eyes from year to year, from day to day.”

Ten years – that’s a lot of days, and a lot of change. In a sense it’s almost depressing to think how such a large chunk of time is ultimately reduced to fading memories. But then something comes along, like my reunion, which lets you rekindle those memories.

I suppose you could say I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be fun to catch up with old friends and reminisce about the old days, when our biggest crisis was a ten-page senior thesis. We’ll swap stories, discuss our current lives, and if the reunion even remotely mirrors our actual high school experience, someone will likely give me guff about my beloved Longhorns’ failure to win the national title that I always boasted was just a few years away.

I guess some things don’t change after all.


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