Ammo Grrrll concludes her series on her high school reunion in a column she titles “50th Reunion, or, How Did I Get This Old?” She writes:
You know those beautiful young ladies in high school back when you were a nerd who could never date them (if you were a boy) or BE them (if you were a girl)? Well, they are still beautiful! What kind of karmic fairness is that? Some of them look like they just stepped out of Miss Skalbeck’s English class on the way to the lunchroom. (It’s meatless Friday, so it’s either Fish Sticks or Mac and Cheese, back in the quaint old days when a Christian religion was modestly accommodated.)
So, that’s the bad news. The good news is that by age 67 or 68, the old cliques have pretty much broken down. By this reunion, people had stopped trying to impress each other and circulated nicely, talking to everyone. Heck, we’re all just geezers now who have done our best, accomplished much, and are hoping that when we meet Our Maker, many years from now, He grades on a curve.
Out of a class of around 240, 175 people registered for the reunion, including some spouses and teachers. There were no nametags at our opening cocktail reception. Some people were instantly recognizable. Others could not have been guessed if my life had depended on it. Whatever reunion you attend, do NOT say, “Guess who I am?” This can only lead to embarrassment all around. Just stick out your hand and say, “Hi, I’m Somebody Johnson” (in Minnesota), or “I’m Tammylou Faye-Anne Whatever” (in Texas).
A dear, late friend of mine told me that when her father visited his native Czechoslovakia, then still Communist, he ran into an old woman whom he recognized from gradeschool and broke the ice after 50 years by asking, “Don’t the government give you teeth?”
Better openers at your reunion would be neutral sports talk: “Would soccer be tolerable if limited to one two-minute shootout? OK, how ’bout with actual guns?” or “Should they change the name of the Golf Channel to The Cialis Channel based on the number of commercials for it?” What’s up with that, so to speak?
I am blessed to be one of very few people my age with two living parents. I had to divide my time between reunion events and parental visits, so I left early. The next night was our big banquet and dance. I sat with travel mates Bonnie and Heather and a guy who still had a crush on Bonnie and Heather who was livin’ the dream for one evening.
This time we had nametags with our senior pictures on them in case we hadn’t been humiliated enough in life. Whatever made me think a Lilt home perm the day before pictures was a great idea? It may be an urban legend, but I read that Barry Manilow bought up all existing copies of his yearbook and destroyed them. If I ever get that rich, count on it!
The organizers of the reunion had done a bang-up job with the banquet. It opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by a career Army classmate. The dance band then played all the military anthems for every branch of service and had the vets who had served in each branch stand to sustained applause. It had to be over half the men in the class, God Bless ’em. Bonnie, who is a veterinarian,also stood by mistake. OK, I made that up.
Colleen, the emcee, recalled that a certain strict English teacher once scolded a periodically-disruptive student thusly: “Susan, your life would go much better if you didn’t think you were so funny.” Rumor has it that her life went just fine. So, neener, neener.
After the banquet, the cover band played the music from the Sixties. Ammo Grrrll was a dancin’ fool for over an hour. The next day everything hurt, including my hair.
Finally, it was obvious that none of us had gotten through life without challenges and sorrow. No matter how successful, how financially secure, everyone I talked to had dealt with something – from disabled children to mental health issues; from surviving breast cancer to broken marriages and addiction. Life can be a marathon through a minefield.
We are here not to see through each other, but to see each other through. Our class was good at that. Many thanks to the organizers. On to the 60th. This time we’ll leave more time for the Cowboy Hall of Fame even if we need three walkers then instead of just the one.