So I’m sitting in the middle of a crowded small town USA restaurant about to have dinner after a long day at work. The talk is loud and punctuated by whoops of laugher and accompanied by the occasional wild gestures one might expect from a frat party. After a while of listening (while trying not to) I noticed that one of the group was saying he graduated high school 67 years ago. Upon further attempts at ignoring them I learned that he and the rest were all alums of the same boarding school. Interesting, and for some reason the thought of boarding schools always brings to mind all things British; too many viewings of Harry Potter and Young Sherlock Holmes perhaps.
Anyway, it seems that all these men and women were back for a Homecoming celebration. A few had just graduated and the rest were from various years all the way back to the gent who “walked across the boards” 67 years ago. This spiked my interest further as here all these people went to school at the same place but some years and decades apart. I wondered about their experiences and if they really had anything else in common (or supernatural abilities) as a result of the going to the same school.
Taking a page from the Doctor (the main character in the long running BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who), I promptly moved to a table of alums unknown to me, sat down, and began asking questions:
- Why go to this boarding school?
- What did you learn there? Magic?
- Do you think that tie would look good on me?
Without missing a beat and acting as if I was one of their old chums a woman to my left wiped her mouth with a napkin and said, “Well, I wanted to go to school here. I did my research and decided it was what I wanted to do so I told my parents and they sent me. I lived there for almost six years. It was fabulous!”
Turning from placing another order for a glass of ale a man beside me wearing a flowery shirt broke in and announced, “One day my parents had had enough of me and gave me the option of one of three schools. They said I was going to boarding school, but I could choose which one. We drove around all day and looked at different schools. This was the last one we came to and I knew it was for me! I did pretty well in my life and it was all because of the things I learned here.”
“I learned how to learn!” Swiveling around to confront this new speaker I met a crew cut, square jawed man holding a glass with a pink hat sticking out of it. He said, “And I think one of these ties would look great one you,” then proceeded to take off the purple and gold stripped tie he was wearing and draped over my head.
“It really is simple,” he said, waving his arms expansively to cover the other people eating, drinking, and milling about the place. “We all gained that which made us who we are today at that school. Integrity, leadership, compassion for others are all things I gained. The boarding experience and the lessons we learned turned us into the successful people you see before you.” It was true that many of them looked the part of successful people and over the course of the evening I met several company presidents and vice presidents, senior executives, military leaders, etc.
“But what is different about your experience to that of say someone like me who went to public school” I queried between bites of salmon and cheese? “I mean to say, why would anyone want to pay for school when we have public school? And aren’t schools like yours for troubled kids? I mean don’t parents send their kids away to boarding school because they don’t want them or can’t handle them at home, I asked” nodding towards the man in the flower shirt?
“Aha!” said a woman of about 25 in pink polo and tan shorts. “I first went to public school, before transferring and finishing out at the boarding school. The public school was crowded. There were too many kids and not enough opportunities for me to do what I wanted to do. At the boarding school I got to start on the soccer and volleyball teams and be a cheerleader!”
A young man in a dark suit and an unfortunate “chia pet” style head of hair approached and advised that he graduated last year and was originally from China. “I came to the school with a friend of mine, but my friend didn’t like being away from his parents so he went back home. I stayed because in this school I could express myself and was challenged. I became valedictorian, was a senior student leader, and even played American football. I’m going to St. Jones College and I know a lot of graduates who have gone to places like UVA, William and Mary, the University of Illinois, MIT; good schools. I think you could go to just about any college you want after you graduate from here. It is really just up to you.”
“Maybe there are some parents who dropped their children off to be rid of them for a couple of years,” croaked the man who graduated when Harry Truman was President of the U.S. “I think those parents still wanted the best for their kids. They knew they couldn’t provide it, but they also knew our school could and did! I’d give anything to go back in time and do it all over again. Being a student here were some of the best years of my life!
At that, a cheer went up from those assembled that threatened to knock the building down! I looked around me and saw nothing but knowing grins on the faces of all these people enjoying their time together that evening and the “shared” memories each had. I said my goodbyes then went outside to begin my walk home and wished I had a TARDIS like the Doctor that could carry the restaurant full of revelers back in time dropping a few off every couple of years or so to re-live their glory days.
Would the good Doctor take them? Would he join them in fun and adventure like he does with folks on his show? I wonder if he too would want to travel back to the boarding school (The Time Lord Academy) he went to while growing up on his home world of Gallifrey? And if so, would he be as happy about it as they seem to be? What would the Doctor do?