Reunited

2013-07-23 14.11.43

I went to my 30th high school reunion at the end of June.  (I grew up amidst the humidity, and stupidity, of the Redneck Riviera in Northwest Florida.)  The 10th was mediocre, but the 20th was a blast. At the 20th, I was voted “most changed”. I was brunette and shy (to everyone but the gays) in school, so this is the one time I was rewarded for all these years of being a blatant blonde smart ass. As a result I decided at the 20th it is never too late to be popular in high school and attended the 30th with that in mind.

Walking into Delchamps (my nickname for the 1st night’s reunion locale) when I saw the icy, indoor bar empty, I thought, “are you kidding me, we are outside in this humidity… we are peri-menopausal women?! I might as well just piss my pants right now to hide the sweat stains.”

On the bartender asking what the occasion was, the person next to me readily gave up, “it’s our 30th reunion”. I said, “Can’t you say 20th? If we can’t lie to each other, can we at least lie as a group?”

At one point, my early onset dementia (or my former bong-burned brain) has me feeling like I am standing in a room full of strangers with the song “Somebody that I Used to Know” xylophoning in my head. I’m blowing up neurons trying to recognize spouses I’ve never met and trying to place classmates I probably never knew in school (there were something like 500 in our class). This gives me an idea for a reunion app where you type in someone’s name and their high school picture appears on your cell. I also need an app to help me remember this idea — Lost Marbles Found, Brain Fart Historian or Old Alz Heim could be this app’s name options.

We had an unofficial contest of best-preserved guy and girl. There were many women that easily vied for the title, for the men there was only one, with a distant second. I hear at the 40th, all that changes. In the next 10 years (once we women dry up) we then look like men complete with barreled torsos and beards. I won’t be at that reunion.

Before I head out on Friday, a certain octogenarian I’m staying with, comes to me with Kotex mini-pads that he bought at the commissary asking if they are the same as the ones his wife bought for him with the explanation, “I sometimes leak when I fart in my tan shorts”. I said to an old acquaintance who is acting as gallant caregiver to his parents, “This is what it’s come to, the criteria for finding love at this age… who is going to buy mini-pads for me when I’m sharting myself?”

Throughout the weekend, I was of the mindset to say “hi” to whomever crossed my path. Mostly, that greeting was positively returned, but there were the exceptions…

I said to one guy, “Hi, I think we went to high school together.” He replied, “Yeees, we did” (the understood part was, “and I’m still doing my best to avoid you”) then kept his eye on me like I might pounce while slinking away. Good to know he clearly never relocated from his hometown of Doucheburg.

Another rather poorly-aged (now, I’d never say this if she was nice) cheerleader wannabe I said “hi” to by name. She made a face like I farted in it and said “hiyeeee” while upping her pace to walk by me. I said to one of my gay boyfriends from high school (after walking across the room, standing behind her, and blatantly pointing at her from overhead because he couldn’t spot her – then the two of us snorting with laughter like misbehaving schoolgirls on my trip back), “that’s okay, if I looked like her, I wouldn’t say hi to me either”.

I will be hosting the latest edition of Snark Week on Animal Planet, please tune in.

If you do not show up to your reunion, you are easy prey.

Just to be fair, this was my fave thing to say when someone couldn’t remember me… “Well, that’s okay, I used to be a boy in high school. I was Ron Nectar.” In following, we were at the bar, a guy was sitting at the table we were using and Cathy told me to get rid of him. I said, “should I go up to him with a hopeful look in my eye and ask if he likes chicks with dicks?”

Okay, back to the easy prey of the no-shows…

– Two older ladies (at least by 10 yrs) picked a couple of our reunion leis off the bar, donned them and sat out on the lanai at Delchamps. I said to Russell, we should take a pic of them, post it online and write, “Time is finally not so kind to Stacy Jones and Angie Smith.” (These were two cheerleaders in our class that have looked Dorian Grayishly consistent over the years.)

– About my best friend in school (whose shadow I’m finally out from under as people seemed to think I was her keeper at the 20th — only one person asked me where she was this time), I explained to people that yes, as they always suspected we were a couple… up until 2005 when a certain orange-striped Poop came into my life. There was a lot of hissing, (big)hair raising skirmishes and claws-out jealousy, and I decided there could be only one catty puss in my life, so she stayed home from the reunion out of respect for me and my litterbox-using lover.

– About a gay friend that lives 40 miles from the reunion and worships various old school kings of rock, I said his cigarette-sucking, well-tanned diva hide was on tour playing Rod Stewart in a Legends roadshow.

–  About a raucous no-show queen, I wove a tale that he had been incarcerated since 2011 for offering to give swimming lessons to young men in his Tallahassee sinkhole.

One former classmate mentioned my “candidness” – well, the way I see it is you can’t hide much from the people that knew you when: you had cystic acne like a face full of tumors, your voice broke like a braying donkey, you saw out of four crossed eyes, your hormones gave you wood like a generous, yet diabolic, lumberjack, you smiled through braces that would put a jack o’ lantern to shame and to whom you can never lie about your age.

And if you were me, you were called “chicken legs” (obviously), “snaggle tit” (let’s just say I’ve never called mine “the twins”), and “Nectar napkin” (don’t ask, those early adolescent period waterfalls were trying times). In addition, Don Merrill pulled my skirt down tackling me in 3rd grade and everyone saw my blue-flowered underwear (fortunately, this was before “free-lipping”). I never wore that skirt again and my grandfather (God rest him) walked my shaken self to the bus stop the next day. There was also the time I farted in my tomb-quiet 6th grade class during a test (I asked my parents if we could move).

There were more embarrassing times brought on by my inability to excel in math or science… in high school, I cheated my way thru AP Biology and Physics. Bob Johanssen (another one originally from Doucheburg) ratted out my cheat sheet in AP Biology — I wrote Mrs. McDonald a note saying I had no business trying to think with that side of my brain.  I seriously should’ve been in Imbecilic-Placement Biology. In Physics, my best friend and I cheated off each other and both got like a 20. Freaking morons that we were, we didn’t have the wits to cheat off someone knowledgeable — we didn’t even understand the physics of cheating! BTW, I did not cheat in college — figured I was paying too much and besides, I was an art major. It’s a little hard to cheat on (a useless) talent.

Ultimately, my overall take on the reunion was … no matter the wives, husbands, partners, parents, grandparents, caregivers, widow/ers, bachelor/ettes, divorcees, corporate conquerors, small biz owners, soul searchers or full-time mothers/fathers we’ve become, we’ve shared the most awkward, insecure and carefree time of our lives. We ran inside from the bug man on summer nights; never sat in traffic downtown or on Brooks/Destin Bridge unless something was terribly awry; greatly anticipated — like only a kid (without a cell phone) can — a visit to Goofy Golf, the Palm Theater, Santa Rosa Mall, Carvel Ice Cream, The Waterboggan, Beasley Park, The Gulfarium, etc.; studied for, passed and failed tests on slightly moist, aromatic mimeographed paper; woke up to fresh arrays of blossoming zits; eagerly learned to drive; felt painfully inadequate in gym or band or chemistry or social situations; and experienced what seemed like a drama-filled lifetime leading up to graduation, but was actually just a speck in the scheme of the personal triumphs and tragedies that would follow.

If you wore a red-inked nametag the last couple nights, we are forever brethren in our starry (four) eyed, spotty youth — whether or not we really knew each other then. I did my best to say “hi” to most everyone based on that fact and the results were truly rewarding (even the snubs made for hilarity).

It’s great to meet the adults you’ve become while recognizing the mannerisms, personalities and underlying faces I fondly (and sometimes vaguely) remember. Cheers to us, class of ’83!

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