Great men

If someone asks “how are you doing?” and you answer “great” it wouldn’t be an atypical response.   We like to use, or over-use, the word great.  The adjective has been diluted to point to a level somewhere above just ok.  We use it so often that rarely does great mean great.

At one time I was member of a speaking club where one of the objectives was to evaluate someone else’s speech.  It was challenging.  The idea was to critique the speaker in the right way so that the speaker would actually improve through positive feedback.  By far and away, the most prolific word used in feedback sessions was “great” to describe a speaker’s attribute or quality or something he did well.  It’s like there were precious few words or adjectives to describe something done well.  So the unimaginative fallback was “great.”  It was used so much that it lost its significance.

Then there are times when great can also mean not so great.  Kind of like a sarcastic great.  Hey, your mother-in-law is coming to visit.  Response: “great.”  Usually a more drawn out greaaat.

And then of course there are times when great does mean what it’s suppose to mean.  We used the word in high school, many of us did, to describe other male colleagues.  When one did something of beyond normal note, he was considered and referred to as “a great man.”  The “great” act by the great man was usually something auspicious, possibly even nefarious in nature.  We were kids then.  Not wholly matured.  But we were still, many of us, great men.

Every high school graduating class and generation has unique qualities or significances.  I’m not sure how many other classes have 20 plus guys who get together 40 years later to share lunch.  I suspect not a great many.

Not all of us could make it, understandably so.  We still refer to ourselves as “great men.”  And why not.  There is nothing to dilute.  We made an effort, prompted by one great man Kevin McCaskey, to share a second time together in less than a year.

With the stories that many somehow remembered and shared, it was amazing to think that most of us made it through in one piece.  We did.  And not too much the worse for wear.  There was a lot of value in looking back, remembering, and laughing.

Was it truly great?  Well, you had to be there.  Some of us changed quite a bit over time, but that’s what life does.  But after 40 years, we still held a sparkle of what existed during those years from the late 60’s up to 1971.

We all won’t be meeting in another 40 years.  Statistically, maybe a couple of us.  Until then, time keeps ticking and the opportunity to share time with up to a couple of dozen guys who were tied together decades ago points to something significantly above normal.  One could correctly call it great.  Indeed, we refer to each other as “great men” for good reason.

April 28, 2012 A few great men.

A few great men during a reunion circa 1974.

2 thoughts on “Great men

  1. Anonymous

    Fred: Interesting to realize the mugs of Pabst Blue Ribbon in a garag have been supplanted by Heineken in an elegant private room. The attendees appear to be The Titans of Industry. Thanks for sharing. swjr


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