One 50-year reunion, two old girlfriends
It was threatening to rain; a sign from the heavens or something, I thought to myself as I climbed onto the class of 1962's parade float last weekend. A good sign, since in that part of Iowa, which is where I'm from, it hadn't rained in nearly two months. Crops burning up. Yearly farm incomes shrinking by the hour. Rain, finally.
Fifty-year reunion, finally. It only comes once in your lifetime. (And it rains?) But, for seven of my old classmates, 50 wasn't going to come at all, so as I climbed onto that hayrack and found a place to sit - someone had built seats on it - I felt quite fortunate. Perhaps even a bit giddy? It seemed more than appropriate that all of us should be riding in the town's annual celebration parade, those of us left of the Class of '62.
I remember Dad's 50th reunion. I remember thinking: Good grief! Fifty years? Can anyone ever really be that old?
Uh huh. If they're lucky.
So that was part of what I was feeling, a bit lucky, even if it was beginning to rain.
There seemed to be a lot of women around where I had climbed up and sat down, three of them opposite me. They were older women (oops, my age). Trousers a bit snug, perhaps, hair done up special. Cosmetologists and clothiers probably made a lot of money that weekend, what with women usually turning events such as these into a kind of Olympic appearance contest. This hayrack had likely never smelled this much perfume nor felt this much eager anticipation since, well, since it had been used last year for that 50th.
The reunion hayrack, one more step on the stairway up and out.
And so I looked at the woman across from me, realized who it was, briefly considered whether or not to get up and run for it, thought what the heck, smiled at her, and stayed. We wouldn't forget each other. Ever.
"You don't know who this is, do you?" she said to me as she grabbed the arm of another woman next to her and shook her a bit.
The guys around me were short on hair; the women either had hair the exact color it used to be, or it was gray-white. This woman I didn't recognize - her hair went natural, which means very light. I appreciate that in a woman. I think it says something about a person's willingness to meet life head-on. It's hair. Appreciate it.
Her hair had turned. Nope. Didn't have a clue who she was. Couldn't see through 50 years of growing up.
The Unknown Woman said: "I still have some of your letters."
Oh boy. Fifty years ago, I wrote girls letters. Ancient text messages.
I didn't know who she was, so Woman Number One introduced me. I would have never guessed her name. My first date in high school. Mom drove. We went rollerskating. I still remember the really cool white hoodie I wore. It was cool. I was cool. She was tall and dark. And so cool. I don't know if we said 10 words to one another, we were so cool. Really cool people don't have to speak, apparently. We likely only went out with one another because we each thought the world should get to see two people this cool.
The rain began. The parade began. It rained harder. Talk about raining on your parade. On me. Sitting there. Across from two old girlfriends. One had been my first date from the class of '62; the other, my last.
They talked the entire parade. Some of it was about me.
It was a long, long parade.
They talked about parties I guess I was at and didn't have any memory of, the time they dyed my hair red and spilled the coloring, which I also didn't remember. Too cool to have a brain. There was a third Older Woman. She got into the conversation. Apparently she was there also. Details flowed like water. Don't women ever forget anything?
There was a lot of rain. Thunder, too. Some lightning. I held my umbrella way up, hoped for a strike.
Seriously. It was a great reunion, all things considered. I got to talk to a lot of people who all seemed just as relaxed and grateful to be there as I was.