Stumbling into the social strata of my wife’s yesteryear
After a lot of debating, soul searching and arguing, and a little praying, my wife and I made a major decision in our life ... and went to her high school reunion. I suppose it would have been easier just to toss a coin.
I was a bit annoyed that she did so much flip-flopping. One week, we were going, the next we weren’t, and then we were going to only one event and then two and then none again.
When it comes to high school reunions, my operating philosophy is pretty simple. I prefer to get in and get out as quickly as possible, sort of like driving up to the McDonald’s window for a Filet-o-Fish and fries and then pulling out in a trail of dust before someone sees you.
Whether you loved high school or hated it, those four years pretty much define us for the rest of our lives. So often, we start thinking like teenagers again when we’re reunited with our classmates and the adolescent social strata — the jocks, the nerds, the cheerleaders, the class leaders, the class clowns, the debate club, the chess club, the Student Council and the great unwashed of humanity, to which I am proud to claim membership.
When you walk in that room and the dj is playing “Hey Jude,” the protective coating of adulthood melts away and the terror returns, and you have as much social poise as you did at your first high school mixer.
I knew this reunion would be a bit like Saturday Night Fever (or Saturday Night Live), with geezers out on the dance floor who had knee replacements and other orthopedic ailments. I was suffering from gout in my big toe and hoped there’d be an EMT on duty, just in case I went down. I didn’t want to be carried out on a stretcher like an injured quarterback at the Super Bowl and have my picture on the front page of the alumni news or in a video that went viral on social media.
Actually, I was looking forward to this reunion because it would give me something to write about after depleting my usual sources of inspiration, such as the car wash, the dentist, the gastroenterologist and the other monumental occasions that I ponder like Dostoevsky.
I wanted to get into the swing of things and rock the casbah, but there was one problem. My wife’s old boyfriend would be there, and he was a drummer in a high school band. Even if I were CEO of Microsoft, I couldn’t compete with credentials like that. I’m not Ringo Starr or Tommy Lee, although I could pass as the little drummer boy, but he wasn’t very successful on the dating scene.
Those rock ‘n’ rollers put the rest of us to shame, especially guys like me whose high school claim to fame was being treasurer of the Latin Club.
He spotted her immediately. They kissed, they hugged, they reminisced, while I practiced my Latin conjugations. O tempora! O mores! To add insult to injury, he still had his hair.
I walked off to get them drinks and give them time alone. It was the first time my wife had a drink since the champagne toast at our wedding, but I knew she needed a stiff cocktail to make it through the night. I stuck with ginger ale so I wouldn’t dull my astute reportorial skills.
The truth of the matter is we both survived the evening and were glad we went. You see, the beauty of high school reunions is that once you get past the tenth and twentieth, there’s nothing left to be afraid of. You don’t have to impress anyone with your accomplishments or lack of them because life has pretty much worn everyone down.
You realize the most important thing isn’t impressing people, it’s sharing the ups and downs of life, not to mention pictures of your grandkids, although I should confess that I’m starting to take drumming lessons.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.