REALITY AND REUNIONS
DONíT ALWAYS MIX


    High School reunions are not for everyone. In particular, theyíre not for spouses.
    "I bought you a ticket," I announced to my wife. "Are you coming?"
    "Iíd rather hang upside down over a pit of spiders," she replied, which I took to mean "no."
     Perfect. So I went off to my 40 year high school reunion last Saturday night all by myself, with no wife to introduce and then bore with memories from a time long, long ago.
     Besides, I was on a mission to restore my reputation. Iím pretty certain a good portion of my high school classmates think I grew up to be a raging alcoholic.
    When you see people once every ten years, itís probably not a good idea to drink too much. I learned this valuable life lesson at my 20 year reunion. A few of my old high school friends and I decided to have a couple (or three or four) shots of tequila before the reunion started, just to take the edge off.
     The edge disappeared rather rapidly. For example, I vaguely remember being in front of a microphone singing our high school fight song at one point in the night. I donít believe I was asked to do so.
     The night was pretty much a blur. Iím sure I hugged a lot of people and had a lot of fun. And when I called a bunch of them the next day to apologize, they were very nice.
     So when I went to my 30th, ten years ago, I was the pillar of respectability. It was held at a swanky hotel, and I sipped a beer and made small talk with people I vaguely remember seeing at the 20th. The whole night was kind of stiff and not much fun.
     I think the organizers thought so, too, because they scheduled the 40th at The Irish Cultural Center (hold the oxymoron jokes), which was far from swanky.
     I didnít really want to go, but I had to. If I could show up two reunions in a row without looking like a drunk, my reputation would be back in business. This was my last chance until the 50th, and, not to be morbid or anything, but who knows who will be around for that one.
     So I went, and it was the best reunion ever. Not only did I restore my reputation, I re-connected with a lot of friends who were attending their first reunion, drawn by the cheaper price of the Irish Cultural Center.
     One of them, Anchovie Jones (his nickname in high school), I hadnít seen in 35 years. He was one of my best friends in high school, a total weirdo, and seeing him again brought back a flood of memories.
     The night just flowed, as reunions should. It wasnít about the glitz or the glamour, it was about stepping back in time and reliving a short but wonderful, sometimes awkward, sometimes painful part of life.
     Of course, it was also about seeing how everyone has aged. Even Anchovie Jones looked different. He had glasses, his hair had thinned out, a few wrinkles had crept in, and he no longer had the chiseled body.
    "You look like crap," I said to him after we had given each other a perfunctory hug.
    "So do you," he replied.
     It was this kind of bonding that makes a reunion so special. He spun me around, noted the bald spots, the grey, and a myriad of other deficiencies. Itís what guys do.
     Meanwhile, one of our female classmates walked up and introduced herself. We had both known her well, and wouldnít have recognized her if she was the last person on Earth.
    "You look wonderful," we both exclaimed, almost in unison, even though we both couldnít believe how that gorgeous 17-year old had turned into an elderly matron.
    "Thank you," she gushed. "You guys look great, too."
    Anchovie and I glanced at each other, both of us thinking the same thing: You got that right, honey.
     It was just like being back in high school. Self-absorbed and clueless.
 

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