Column: Expecting the best - or worst - from class reunions
So what is it we expect to see at our umpteenth class reunion? Hair with more grey in it than our own? Hair with more hair in it than our own?
Do we go to see who aged the most, or to see who didn't? Who got prettier? Who didn't?
Or maybe we don't go at all, because no matter how hard we try, we cannot see a reason to add one more mountain to our summer climbing schedule. Over half of my class didn't show up to the last one I went to. Maybe there isn't just one reason for people not to go; maybe there are several, and they gang up, until they become too powerful. Then you go.
What do you talk about to someone you haven't seen in umpteen years? "Hi," you might start out with, "how do you feel about being fatter-balder-greyer-older than the rest of us?" That would be a good conversation starter. Be sure and smile. If you're going to point out warts, a smile might not be quite enough; better throw in a pat on the back, too.
Another conversation starter might be: "Boy, the President really sucks, doesn't he?" Based on current political bipartisanship statistics, that one has at least a one in two chance of not getting you into a humdinger of a debate, but plan on moving from group to group frequently.
Work on your short snorts of derision, and prepare to nod knowingly, no matter what someone says, and use this one: "Well, you know what Abraham Lincoln--Albert Einstein--Mother Teresa said about that," then move on, before they find out you don't know what anybody said about anything.
Maybe there are other reasons to go to your class reunion. Maybe your wife wants to have one more go at that blond tart you went with back in high school. You know the one. She wrote you those love letters that you thought were long gone, the long fuzzy rambling ones about how fine you were? The ones that your wife found the ninth year of your marriage. Remember that 10th reunion?
Remember the year leading up to it? The year your wife started using the cutesey-wutesey pet names for you that were in the letters? "Shouldn't we get ready for church, love bunny?" Or she would look at you over the kitchen table and say, "My, your body is fine like wine, sweet cheeks." That was a long year. A long, long, long year.
Life sure sends some stumbling blocks, doesn't it You and your wife at the reunion found your place card right across the table from your old flame, and she was looking fine. Had on that red dress she was busting out of and those strappy high heels that said: "Ask me to dance; I'm all yours again."
Your wife had on a dress that said: "I've had three kids, and gravity is winning. You know it. I know it. I hate you. Let's fight."
All you remember was the first thing she said to that hussy, which was something like: "They don't take out the trash here at all, do they?" Whooeee. Now, that was a reunion from hell.
But wait! Maybe, just maybe, you go to your reunion to see the high school sweetheart that you haven't seen in over half a lifetime, the one from whom you were separated for reasons you cannot exactly recall anymore. Maybe it wasn't avoidable. Maybe it should have been. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Life has a lot of maybes.
She might be there, you know. Maybe.
She might well be there. She might show up. Maybe.
She might be alone, standing somewhere across the room, and you might walk over to her, wondering all the hundred lifetimes it takes you to get over there exactly what in the world you're going to say to her. You close the distance with a few final steps, and then you're standing in front of her.
Maybe that's when she smiles, and you remember why you were attracted to her in the first place. Then you remember what it's like to stand in the shine of a hundred watt smile framed by silver dollar dimples. Memories drill holes right through you. Your mouth opens, and your thoughts leak out and evaporate into nothingness, and you smile, and mutter something, and feel 17 again.
Maybe then you remember how easy she is to talk to, when you start talking again, and as you talk, it's almost like you've never been away, and maybe then you're suddenly glad you came.
High school class reunions.