I got dragged to the dreaded 25th high school
reunion on Thanksgiving weekend. I didn't want to go, but my long-time friend and
classmate (to whom I shall refer to as "Long-Time Friend and Classmate" to protect her
privacy and spare her embarrassment) kept sending me emails riddled with guilt-infected
innuendoes of friends who have passed before us and lost opportunities. So I figured it
wouldn't kill me to go, and who knows, maybe I'd get some grist for the ol' writing
The reunion was held in a hotel ballroom. The tickets were $60 each
($75 at the door), and according to my Long-Time Friend and Classmate, included a dinner
of turkey, prime rib, pasta, salad and dessert. That gave me a little incentive – the
prime rib. So we lined up at the buffet, and I took a little salad, a little potato and
some vegetables and a roll, making sure to save room for the prime rib. But there was no
prime rib. There wasn't any turkey either, and I didn't see any pasta anywhere. I'd
been had. I had to settle for pork roast, chicken or salmon, no doubt left over from an
earlier wedding. But the butter was displayed in decorative little balls, I suppose to
distract us from the fact that there was no prime rib. I turned to my Long-Time Friend
and Classmate, who sucked me in to this event with promises of prime rib, and eyed her
"Hey, you said there was going to be prime rib. There's no
prime rib here."
"There isn't?" she asked, her eyes wide with feigned
innocence, and quickly turned to the person behind her in the buffet line and started
Now I'm no tightwad, but no way was that dinner worth $60 ($75
at the door). Anyway, most notable were the bald men. Not just a bald pate; you know,
leave a little on the sides? Apparently the thing to do now is to shave your entire head,
like no one will be able to tell that the top of your head is shinier and smoother than
the shadow around your head and that you, in fact, suffer from male pattern baldness. So
there were guys running around the reunion trying to look like white versions of Montel
Williams, but lacked the je ne sais quois.
Don't get me wrong. It's not
like I ever won any contests in high school (or any other time). I had to lie down with
an ice pack on my eyes a few hours before the event to get rid of the bags so I wouldn't
look like the Queen Ant in "A Bug's Life." I recognize my own shortcomings. I was a good
student; I wasn't popular with the boys, except during the odd final exam, when some who
were failing scrambled to sit next to me. I was tall and flat-chested in high school,
which nearly ruined my life by high school standards; I'm tall and flat-chested now, and
I couldn't care less, and neither could anybody else.
My reluctance in
making an appearance at this soirée was justified. I knew I wasn't going to see anyone
there who had thought about me over the last 25 years and wondered how I was and what I
was doing. I knew this because there wasn't anyone there that I thought about over the
past 25 years and wondered how they were and what they were doing. I confirmed my
suspicions by taking a poll. And I was right: Of those I spoke to, there, in fact, was no
one who has been up nights wondering about me over the past 25 years. I had a great
conversation with a guy I vaguely remembered who admitted he didn't talk to me in high
school but was only talking to me at the reunion because he was drunk.
All in all it wasn't so bad. It was nice to see those people I knew who
did come, and we had a few laughs. I muddled through, relying on my sparkling personality
and quick wit (and a few glasses of wine). And it makes me happy that I made my Long-Time
Friend and Classmate happy, despite the fact that she lied about the prime rib and thus
lured me to somewhere I didn't want to go under false pretenses.
I probably sound cynical and maybe I over-analyze things. It's just that I don't see
the point in going backwards -- to returning to where I've already been. Some people
call them the glory days - the days of auld lang syne - and look back on them with
wistful longing, but I don't. The past is past – we can't change it or relive it; we
can only learn from it. Our mistakes, our accomplishments, our triumphs, joys and sorrows
all make us who we are today, and today is what matters.
classmates: I wish you all the best. I hope your life experiences have taken you where
you want to be, and if not, I hope you get there.
As for me, I'm living
my glory days now.