Whew! It has been a whirlwind two weeks. It started off with my Class Reunion and ended with an environmental conference I attended while performing my duties with the mighty NCDOT. Let me just say this so there isn't any confusion with the two events...one was fun, the other one almost drove me to grab an icepick and jab it in my temple. Which means we won't be talking about that environmental conference...unless that is, your desperate to know what constitutes hydric soils in a wetland. I can guarantee that you will be horizontal and counting sheep within 30 seconds.
Anyways, the South View Senior High School class of 1981 finally had their 30 year reunion. Yep, we're getting old and I gotta tell ya...it was absolutely a first class event and one that was geared toward making everyone as comfortable as possible without all that stuffiness that usually accompanies events like this...I really had a good time. It was a BBQ in lieu of the traditional catering and Jimmy Black's pig is possibly the best 'cue I have ever had. I'd also like to tip my hat to Linda Bunnell Westerberg, Jennifer Johnson and "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" Joey Hulon, for all the organization and hard work that went into making this very successful. I think the overall atmosphere led to a lot of interaction that probably wouldn't have happened had it been a sit down formal gathering.
More so than anything, as a demographic such as ours that is about to turn 50, we all just felt a sense of normalcy after hearing all the tales of woe since High School. Naturally, most from this class are parents and several grandparents. To top it off, I can't begin to tell you how many of us are just thankful to have a JOB!! Times are tough for everyone and I hope it gets better for our fine class.
We had a strong showing from the 'ole Ashton Forest Neighborhood of Fayetteville. I'm just amazed at the legacy of that crazy and wonderful 'hood. It fed into Sherwood Park Elementary School and it's one thing to see just your high school mates after so many years, but some of these people I can recall from First Grade! Even our street, Cheltenham Road, brought out myself, naturally, and the still radiant and strikingly beautiful Sanchez sisters, Katrina and Selina, who lived next door to us Laugisch's and across from them, during that era, were the Huskey brothers of which Michael made an appearance at the reunion.
It's not lost on me that I was talking to Katrina and trying to figure out how it was that she could still look like she was 18 years old, when Jeff Albertson, another Ashton Forest Alum, whispered in my ear, "Hey, Michael Huskey just got here. Didn't you live close to him?" Like the idiot I have proven to be half my life, I interupt the beautiful woman I'm having a conversation with and said, "Excuse me Katrina, It was nice talking to you but I'm going to say hello to Michael." Considering I hadn't seen him in 30 years, I'm willing to bet, as I was making a bee line for him and had not so many people been there, I would have yelled his name from across the parking lot and knocked him to the ground hugging on him like some horny dog. I know...too much info Mark.
You don't understand: This was The MICHAEL HUSKEY.
I'm trying to give you, the reader, a character that you can relate to. Why not Robin Hood...you ask? After all, you can make the corelation between Ashton Forest and Sherwood Park, right? Um...one..it's stupid and two...Michael wasn't exactly a saint growing up and he needs a character to represent him that blurs the line of right and wrong just a little bit. In fact, I doubt there were many parents on Cheltenham Road who had a kind word to say about him...my folks absolutely despised the guy. We Laugisch boys, on the other hand... reverred him.
So who compares favorably to Michael that we can all agree upon would do him justice? There's only one person. Michael was Ric Flair before anyone in this world had ever heard of him and his patented "Figure Four" wrestling move. No, no. Micheal wasn't a professional wrestler. He probably could have faked his way doing it like most of them do, but he was way too cool back in the day and he just had this certain charisma...like Ric Flair. As I said earlier, he wasn't a choir boy which is why he is closer in comparrison to the "Nature Boy" than anyone else. Trouble always followed Michael...in a good way...and for some strange reason he took a liking to us goofy Laugisch boys.
I was ten years old when Dad and the US Army dragged us away from the friendly confines of Ashton Forest and supplanted us in Berlin, Germany. I would be thirteen upon my return and it's amazing what two and a half years does to a kid and a neighborhood. We were strangers in a place we thought we were once a part of. It was Michael Huskey who made us feel welcome and we didn't know why.
Take for instance Halloween...who goes Trick-or-Treating with Fire crackers, a lighter and bags of dog shit? That's right...Ric Flair. He'd come get us to play Basketball or Stickball and often we played Football at Sherwood Park Elementary against the GI's. It never failed, here we were, up against guys five or six years older and damn sure bigger and there's Micheal making sure Fred, Henry and Mark are on his team. He made us feel like we could beat the Dallas Cowboys and every now and again those GI's left wondering, "What just happened?"...as some loud mouth punk and his three minions made fools of them. Even in defeat and it happened a lot, Michael would make it interesting. Knowing we were going to lose he would point out the guy on the other team that was pissing him off that particular day and state that he was going to throw an interception to his nemesis and instructed us to "smear the queer" and hold him as Ric Flair came off the top rope with his patented cheap shot to the ribs. It sometimes ended in a mele with the GI's chasing us Laugisch's, but to no avail as we knew the neighborhood. Naturally, and without knowing how, Micheal would always find a way to not get his ass kicked.
To put it simply, Micheal Huskey, aka...the original...Ric Flair, made life on Cheltenham Road damn interesting and I thank him for that. It might be another thirty years before I see him again, but I'll bear hug him if given an opportunity and know that, "To be the Man...you got to beat the Man!! Whoo!! Rock on Michael...it was damn good seeing you.