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
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.