Mesa Musings: 'Peter Pan' image doesn't fly

How would you like to be remembered?

Each of us enters our Golden Years with that question in mind.

What's my legacy?

If you had a choice, would you prefer to be remembered as: a generous philanthropist; connoisseur of the arts; devoted spouse, parent and grandparent; raconteur; dedicated worker; or compassionate citizen of the world?

You doubtless can provide many other equally endearing labels.

Or, maybe you'd just be content to be remembered as Peter Pan.

That apparently is how I'm remembered by one soul. Call me kooky, but I find that disturbing! I do, however, take consolation in the fact that it's better to be remembered as Peter Pan than not to be remembered at all.

It makes sense to me that Babe Ruth's memory evokes "The Sultan of Swat"; or that Charlton Heston calls to mind "Moses"; or that Frank Sinatra is "The Voice."

There's logic behind those appellations.

But, Peter Pan? Really?

Even Mary Martin is bigger than the boy who wouldn't grow up. She survived about a zillion performances in green tights — attached by a wire to a flying contraption.

But she's not remembered as Peter Pan. She's Mary Martin, for heaven's sake, "Distinguished Actress" (and, by the way, mother to Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing on "Dallas").

In addition to playing Peter Pan, Martin originated two celebrated and enduring Broadway roles: Nellie Forbush of "South Pacific" and Maria of "The Sound of Music." She possessed true gravitas!

I'm such a lightweight I have to stuff rocks into my pockets.

Costa Mesa High School's first graduating class — my class! — will conduct its 50th anniversary reunion in September. The Class of '62 was highly unique in that it was the lead class all the way through its four years on campus.

I'm convinced that that circumstance dramatically impacted our lives. We, "The Favored 400," learned to be leaders. I was sports editor of the school newspaper as a freshman. That would never have happened had we upperclassmen.

I've agreed to serve on the 50th reunion planning committee. I attended my first meeting a few nights ago.

I entered the meeting with my friend Mike Parks, a former CMHS football player. Mike and I encountered a room filled with 15 of our fellow classmates, each of whom were unknown to me at first.

As I extended my hand to introduce myself, those 67- and 68-year-old faces suddenly looked 18 again. I saw smiles and heard voices I hadn't seen and heard for years. I recognized everyone, even though it had been five decades since most of us crossed paths.

One mischievous classmate looked at me and said, "It's Peter Pan!"

I didn't know how to react. I then recalled that I'd played the role of John, Wendy's brother, in the 1963 Orange Coast College stage production of J.M. Barrie's play, "Peter Pan."

"No, I wasn't Peter in the OCC production," I quickly tried to clarify, but my friend interrupted me.

"I wasn't talking about OCC's play," she said. "I was talking about my seventh-grade Halloween party. Don't you remember? You came as Peter Pan."

Um, seriously?

That was Oct. 31, 1956. I was 11!

Come to think of it, I vaguely recall a green costume. My sainted mother bought white long johns and dyed them green. She topped things off with a green fedora and feather and — voilà! — I was Peetah (as Wendy might say).

But how — and, good heavens, why — did my classmate remember me as such when, obviously, I'd carefully purged that memory from my consciousness decades ago? To her way of thinking, for the last 50 years I've been the kid in green tights.

I'll happily continue to serve on the reunion planning committee, but I must do something to disabuse this dear lady of my Peter Pan guise. I'm not certain how, but I'm now a man on a mission!

By the way, if you're a 1962 Costa Mesa High alum, contact us about the reunion at (949) 837-2569.

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Tuesdays.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World