How to attend a high school reunion


Maj Gen. Charles F. Bolden (ret)

President Obama recently announced the nomination of Marine Maj Gen Bolden as the next NASA Adminstrator. It would be tough to find a more qualified candidate.

He flew over a hundred combat missions in Vietnam.
He was a test pilot, checked out in over 30 types of aircraft.
He was an Astronaut.
He flew four Space Shuttle missions.
He launched the Hubble Telescope.
He flew the first SPACELAB mission.
He flew the first U.S./Russian Shuttle mission.
He rose to the rank of Maj General.

And now he’ll be the NASA Administrator.

I worked with General Bolden for a short time, and found him to be exceptionally personable, and humble about his accomplishments. I remember commenting to him over lunch one day, “Your high school reunions must be a blast.”

He looked at me as if I were the one from outer space.

But think about it. How cool must it be for him to go back to his reunions?

“So, Charlie, what have you been up to?”

“Not much. Things have been pretty busy.”

“Say, didn’t you join the military or something?”


“Hey look! Isn’t that Yolanda? Later, Charlie.”

Most of us try to sneak out a “loosely based on fact” boast here and there at reunions, if for no other reason than to let our classmates know we’re not the wall flowers they thought we were in high school. But for General Bolden, it is different. He isn’t the type to toot his own horn, and even if he was, “if you done it, it ain’t bragging.” (Walt Whitman)

Besides, at some point an annoying, loud-mouthed braggart (every graduating class has one) will stride in and before the night is over the General will find himself trapped in a long, one-way conversation with him – and oppurtunity will come knocking. Because no matter how conceited someone is, he eventually has to take a breath so he’ll probably make the mistake of asking what Charlie has been up to for the last few decades.

“Well, I went to the Naval Academy, was in the Marines and saw combat in Vietnam.”
“Then I became a test pilot.”
“Then an Astronaut – I flew four Shuttle missions.”
“I retired as a two-star General.”
“Did I mention I run NASA?”

It would be priceless.

Of course he is much too gracious and professional to succumb to such temptations. He’s so accomplished that there is no need to boast about all the things he has done in life. That’s why he’s about to be named NASA Administrator.

Which got me to thinking. Since no one else is using them, I’m sure he won’t mind if I borrow a few of his achievements for MY next reunion.

I’m really getting tired of being called a wall flower.


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