Monthly Archives: October 2011
In contrast to the Mixer I went to but didn’t attend the night before (depressing details available here), I managed to arrive at the Richmond, Texas venue for this multi-class reunion a tad early. I bought a plastic cup of wine, sat myself down at one of the smaller tables—close to the get-your-nametag-here table, and where I could easily see the door—crossed my legs, and waited for one or more of the following events to occur: (a) someone to walk through the door who I recognized (not likely); (b) someone to walk through the door who recognized me (even more not likely); and/or (c) the wine to kick in (a sure thing).
As apprehensive as I was, I managed to sit there, gulp my White Zinfandel, and, with an air nonchalance that any Frenchman would envy, stare fixedly at the door. I was projecting such an air of nonchalance, in fact, that even if Mark Harmon himself were to walk through that door, I would have reacted with the proper dignity and reserve appropriate for any woman my age, especially since there was a clear shot between me and that door, and no shoving, pushing, or tackling would have been necessary for me to get there first—which was a good thing, because I wasn’t dressed for it. In addition, I had the advantage of the element of surprise, since no one else was watching that door like I was.
But, alas, no Mark Harmon. Only normal, ordinary, old people… like me.
Out of the thousands attending from the four graduating classes invited (such observation being based upon the length of the food line), there were only seven people in attendance with whom I graduated in 1970 (christened, just now, by me, and referred to herein forthwith as the “Seven from Seventy”). The rest graduated in ’69, ’71, and ’72, and because no one showed up from ’69, I qualified for a shot at the title of Most Senior Senior. The upside, though, was that all but one of the Seven from Seventy had signed my yearbook, which meant that I might have actually met five of them before now. And, not counting my sister, that just left a mere crowd of people I didn’t know.
I really shouldn’t have worried about connecting or re-connecting…it turned out that the shared experience (or trauma, if you prefer) of high school was enough for me to assume a familiarity with my fellow classmates that I would not have assumed otherwise. I renewed friendships long deemed dead, and made some new ones that, hopefully (or miraculously), will last another forty-one years.
Just one more insightful observation: People there seemed to just pick up where they left off, and I’m thankful I wasn’t grilled about how I spent my last forty-one years. I would have had the devil of a time condensing my life since graduation into a short—albeit fascinating—synopsis.
And that’s assuming, of course, I could remember any of it.
I didn’t go.
Well, actually, it depends on one’s definition of “go.” I climbed into my little rental car with the cool GPS and set my course, like Christopher Columbus and the New World. And, unlike Christopher, I had no trouble finding it.
The bar was located in one of those “town centers” that all small suburbs seem to have nowadays, and I was soon reminded what a disadvantage a car (even with a cool GPS) was in these teeny-weeny places. However, this one had a free, multi-level parking garage, so I pulled in, corkscrewed my way up and parked.
Now, I was born and raised in Colorado, which means my sense of direction is completely and utterly dependent upon the Rocky Mountains, even after forty years gone (give or take)—finding my way out of a parking garage, on foot, is akin to finding my way back to civilization after being spun, blindfolded, and dropped off in the middle of nowhere…all parking garages look the same to me. I got out of my rental car with the cool GPS, and started walking, praying at the same time that I could find it again, especially since I was having a hard time remembering what color it was.
I had the street-smarts to realize that down meant out, and I just happened to spy a stairwell, half-hidden in a corner of the garage. That was the easy part. The hard part was deciding in which direction to turn once I got down to the street. As is my nature, I turned the wrong way, and after walking past the same Mexican food restaurant for the fourth time, I made an adjustment to my heading, and finally got there before my canteen ran out of water.
I walked in and promptly stopped, dead cold. People were crunched together, barely able to move, so mingling seemed out of the question. Worse yet (and this was the kicker), the bar itself—the home of dearly-desired, highly-anticipated Screwdrivers, was totally socked in, like an airport in fog.
Reminiscent of my days as a junior high school wallflower, I hung around outside for a little while and waited for anybody who looked even remotely familiar. I finally, reluctantly, gave up, and headed back to the parking garage. I’m proud to say that I did find my rental car with the cool GPS on the first try, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that God answers prayer.
I just wonder now, looking back, if I should’ve prayed for Vodka and orange juice, too.
I woke up at 4:30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up, got myself some coffee, and sat down at the kitchen table, where I flipped through the pages of my senior yearbook for the umpteenth time (it’s a whole like cramming for a test I know I’m going to fail anyway). I’m now sitting in a hotel room in Sugarland, Texas, after a forty-five-minute flight in a metal tube the size of a drain pipe, and in about another forty-five minutes from now, I fully expect to be throwing away (with both hands) all of the personal growth and/or profound wisdom I have managed to accumulate over the past forty-one years.
Suddenly, I’m reminded of that song by Joe Nichols: “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.”
Lord, please bring me back with all my clothes on…
As I wrote in this space a few months ago (see a rundown of my travails here), I have been debating the wisdom (?) of attending my 41st high school reunion. Yes, that’s right. The 41st. As in one year beyond 40, when one would naturally expect a reunion would take place. Personally, I think it’s rather unique holding a reunion in an odd-numbered year…everyone else holds reunions in the even-numbered ones, probably because even numbers are a whole lot easier to remember than odd numbers, since—and I was somewhat surprised by this— cheerleaders, class presidents, and football jocks age just as quickly as we average, anonymous under-achievers do (really…you can look it up.) So, by having it on year forty-one, we can all prove to the world—and each other—that we remain fleet of mind, when in truth it just took an extra year to get organized.
Actually, that’s not strictly true. The graduating class of ‘71 planned this reunion—their 40th (see? even number!)—and they did it in a most timely fashion. Then, for reasons most likely known to everyone but me, they graciously opened it up to classes ‘69 through ‘72, which means that, now that I think about it, there will be even more people there I don’t know. The upside is that I may not remember any of it—there will be liquor, after all. And an even better upside is maybe no one will remember any of it. I do, however, have grand plans to keep you all intimately informed…I just might have to make something up.
So, the decision has been made. I’m off the fence. I’ve taken a stand. I’ve bought a non-refundable plane ticket. The only things left to do between now and next Friday are (a) get my nails done, and (b) lose ten pounds.
I should have started a year earlier.