Ever notice how the other people at your high school reunion look really old?

That was a depressing shock 20 years ago for this member of St. Andrews High School's Class of 1971.

So imagine the deep downer that awaits Saturday night at Charles Towne Landing's Founders Hall at the -- gulp --shared 40-year reunion of 1971 St. Andrews and Middleton High School grads.

As for seeing a classmate who looks much younger than you do, that can be a steep mood decliner, too. So can hearing that a classmate has died.

Still, a bunch of us will show up to see who else shows up. And to see whom we can and can't recognize, and how they're doing after 40 post-high school years of ups, downs and all arounds.

We'll also show up to talk up old times not forgotten, including the epic water-balloon war that remains the reckless, matchless highlight of our senior year at St. Andrews.

Looking back across four foggy decades to two high schools that no longer exist, that wet spring rage clearly flowed from our righteous resentment over the injustice of having our senior class split asunder:

Half of our junior class was cruelly transferred from St. Andrews High to the new Middleton High at the former St. Andrews Junior High for their senior year.

Another 1971 split -- hippies vs. straights.

Yet while that and other youthful divisions seemed vast way back when Joe Riley wasn't Charleston's mayor, now that we're late 50-somethings staggering ever closer to financial ruin and physical oblivion, it's much harder to tell us apart.

And along the long way since then, some of my St. Andrews classmates -- and even a few of the Middleton folks -- have done right well for themselves and their families.

Space limitations preclude a full listing of the numerous luminaries. Humility precludes dwelling on the St. Andrews grad who's now assistant editor of The Post and Courier.

However, among the truly distinguished personages from our ranks are doctors; lawyers; captains of industry; teachers; and engineers, including a retired Navy rear admiral who's now a big shot in a big company.

We also produced a visionary architect, an innovative surfboard manufacturer, a ruthless Big Oil tycoon and even a popular elected official who won a second term by a more than 4-to-1 landslide margin this month.

OK, so that Charleston City Councilman, Aubry Alexander, graduated from Middleton. But during his year there, Aubry played football for the St. Andrews Rocks as the two schools fielded a combined squad for that one season.

Meanwhile, lest you fret about missing Saturday night's Clemson-South Carolina clash of the nationally ranked titans while attending the reunion, remember, you can record it.

And lest you fret about being overshadowed by more seemingly illustrious classmates Saturday night, remember these lessons from high school:

1) Worth -- self and otherwise -- lies in the eye of the beholder.

2) If you're really intent on impressing people, you can always tell self-promoting lies.

This St. Andrews grad is looking forward to telling some tales of his own -- and hearing a few -- at the reunion, which starts at 6 p.m., with the Shem Creek Boogie Band starting its Rocking performance at 8.

Another anticipated reunion pleasure: seeing that familiar look of utter bewilderment from the many still mystified by how this Rockhead managed to marry a charming, pretty, funny classmate who played for the St. Andrews Rockettes basketball team and remains a gifted artist (she won "most talented" in the senior superlatives).

So if you're a fellow classmate and haven't made plans to attend the reunion, you still can by calling Dixie Grady Roberts (813-3185), Buddy Haulbrooks (209-8184) or Dinos Liollio (762-2222), the aforementioned esteemed architect.

And lest you fret about whether you'll be able to recognize me, here's a tip:

I'm much better looking in person than in the mug shot that runs with this column.