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Class Ties

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Class Ties

24 March 2010

Michael Popke

Last weekend, I attended the inaugural meeting to begin organizing my 25-year high school reunion (Class of 1986, Catholic Memorial High, Waukesha, Wis.). There were eight of us six women and two men from a graduating class of about 250. Other than my wife and the maid of honor at our wedding, I had not spoken to the other five for at least 14 (if not 24) years.

But for some reason, the years and distances between all of us faded within minutes, and we were soon asking if anyone still stays in touch with so-and-so, and what happened to what's-his-name. Spending a couple hours with these people actually felt like hanging out with old friends. I didn't expect that, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed the conversation -- and am looking forward to more.

But one comment, in particular, from Bob the other token guy, whom I had not seen since our 10-year reunion and hardly interacted with in high school really sticks out. Near the end of our get-together, he mentioned how he takes a ton of crap from people for still listening to Eighties hair metal. Apparently, Poison (who released Look What the Cat Dragged In the year we graduated) is his favorite band. Who knew? I never would have pegged Bob as a Poison fan. But there he was, a guy three times my size today and way cooler than me back in high school, gushing about a band that refuses to lie down and die by still performing songs like "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Unskinny Bop." Then, Bob almost jumped out of his chair when he announced to the reunion committee that the Scorpions were playing Milwaukee's Summerfest this year.

Suddenly, I felt a connection I never had with Bob back at CMH. After all, I'm still a hair-metal guy at heart, and like him, I take a ton of crap for it. (Dokken, Hurricane, Lillian Axe, Def Leppard and Winger rank high on my list.) So I told Bob that I've interviewed Poison's lead vocalist Bret Michaels, as well as Kip Winger, Def Lep's Joe Elliott and even Ted Nugent. I thought about mentioning my conversation with Kelly Keaggy, the drummer for Night Ranger, but I had to draw the line somewhere...

Had I not attended that reunion meeting, I probably never would have realized that Bob and I share an afinity for hair-band craziness. Funny how music has a way of peeling back the layers and bridging the gaps.


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