At synagogue, a congregant approached me and said I was cool. Why? “Because you went to Brush High,” he said.
Brush High was cool? Charles F. Brush High, in Lyndhurst, Ohio? Located in suburban Cleveland, it was a place you graduated from and never thought about again. (Charles Brush invented the arc light.) Brush High wasn’t to be confused with Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant, Cass Technical (Detroit), or, for that matter, Shaker Heights High.
Unfortunately, I think about Brush High too often—probably because I never left Cleveland. I drive by the school frequently on my way to get ice cream cones.
My closest high school friends moved out of town. They left the Rust Belt before it even was the Rust Belt. They left in 1968, when we graduated Brush. They were, by and large, National Merit semifinalists and science-prize winners. I always liked hanging around with people smarter than I. Let’s just say, our crowd didn’t date much. “Nerds” wasn’t a common term then, either. Maybe we invented it.
At full-fledged, sanctioned Brush High class reunions, there were no symposiums on, say, “Jewish Tiger Mom—Real or Imagined?” Instead, there was lots of booze and chatter about the Cleveland Browns.
In 2020, early Covid days, I put together a Zoom and called it the Brush 8, named for seven of my buddies and me. I was the only one living in flyover country. I had taken over my dad’s property-management business and wasn’t too mobile. The other guys were the coastal elite personified: a doctor, professor, lobbyist, lawyer, accountant, corporate consultant, and think-tanker.
The Brush 8 planned a meetup in Cleveland for this past September. I put together the itinerary: a Cuyahoga River boat cruise, then a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art. One classmate was nostalgic about the medieval armor collection there. We would stay at a boutique hotel in University Circle (near Case Western Reserve University). Maybe we would visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, too. Bonus: no traffic jams.
Everything was set. Then the Brush 8 suddenly became the Brush 4. Four guys finked out. One classmate said, “I don’t want to do it.” Not too subtle there. Another complained about the hassle of connecting flights to Cleveland. He had a point. A third said he had too many business meetings piling up. The fourth guy booked a trip to Portugal instead. I just couldn’t wrangle my buddies to come back to the old sod.
So I canceled the event. A classmate suggested that we meet this spring in Washington, D.C., or “somewhere along the Acela corridor.” That might work.
I won’t go. I’ll show them.
Who am I kidding? I’ll go. I’m midwestern and agreeable.