I graduated tonight. I am officially the parent of a high school student. On an earlier posting on this site, titled Graduation, I discussed a career felon whom I prosecuted a lifetime ago. Until tonight, the word Graduation triggered only memories of Marcos F. I am not sentimental. I am not emotional. For better or for worse, I have been defined in my adult life as an aggressive, hard-ass litigator. But, as I watched my teenager accept his first diploma, I had to adjust my contact lenses, so no one would noticed the tears. People with older children will yawn at this admission. People with younger children will shrug and unsubscribe to my blog. It’s never a good idea to blog about a topic that will bore most people. It’s like talking about a dream – – no one cares, but we cannot resist describing them to our loved ones in excruciating detail. Maybe I was caught off guard by Bertha*(not her real name); a 14 year old classmate of my boy. I see how he looks at her. I remember my Bertha from 30 years ago and I know what he is going through.
Maybe I was intimidated by the presence of Rick and his celebrity girlfriend. Rick was my first friend. I know him for close to 40 years. We graduated from the same elementary school from which our children were graduating tonight. His career is both extremely impressive and mildly disappointing. But, regardless of how you judge him, he has come a long way. People – – not me – – are inventing reasons to approach him and bend his ear. It could be because he produced some great films. I suspect it is also because of his girlfriend. She’s hot but I cared much less what SHE was thinking than what HE was thinking. Did he know that I have never lost a trial? Does he realize I am Walmart’s lawyer? Does he know that people who did not know me before age 18 consider me to be one of the best litigators in New York? Probably not, because people who knew me before age 18 will never stop thinking of me as a goof. That is what he is thinking.
Why do I care? Because I watched my son tonight – – standing with girls that he probably likes more than he can show. Hanging with boys that see him as much cooler – – or much less cool – than will probably ever be accurate. But, there is something about Grammar School; it is so meaningless (I do not know anyone who still maintains a close relationship with anyone from the 8th grade). And, yet, it defines us in a way that stays with us for the rest of our lives. Think you have a complex? Something to prove? It can be traced to grammar school.
E “B” A was there tonight. I was terrified of him. He was the quintessential bully. And I was one of his prime targets. Even in the midst of his cruelest outbursts, there was something cool about him. Not anymore. He just seems pathetic. Trying to raise his kids, earn a living, and stay above water. Just like me.
Across town, my friends from the “Married Years” are watching their children graduate a different grammar school. I am thinking about them all night. Would we have been friends in Grammar School? Probably not. They seem real. My grammar school friends do not.
I’ll be over this in a few days. I understand how I got here. It’s been great. And shitty. At exactly the same time. But, I got here. Safe and sound. My son is just beginning the journey. God Speed Benny.