I was coming out of steakhouse when I ran into Daryl Green. I went to high school with Daryl who married his high school sweetheart, had a couple kids and has been a cop as long as I can remember. I doubt either of us would categorize each other as friends as much as “this guy I know.” The guy I bump into once a year coming out of a steakhouse. Even still he’s friendly and genuine when I see him and I never mind the ten minutes in a parking lot I spend catching up once a year.
He asked me for my address and I asked why since I don’t think we’ve ever shared a phone call. He told me he needed to send my invite for the twenty year class reunion.
There are times you have a reaction to something and as soon as you do, you know it was wrong. Before I could catch myself I laughed in his face and said, “I’m not going to that fucking thing!”
I felt bad because he was genuinely trying to do me favor but if you know me you also know I’m not going to that fucking thing. I hated high school and wouldn’t go to a class reunion if they held it in my kitchen. I don’t do reunions; at least not my own. I went to Natalie’s reunion and had a great time. There’s no pressure that I maybe don’t make as much money as I’d like or I weigh a hundred pounds more than I did in high school. Hell, at someone else’s reunion I can make up any bullshit I want… I’m never seeing these people again.
What do I do? I clean pools… well, more specifically grottos. Have you ever heard of the Playboy Mansion? You’d be shocked at what gets caught in a hot tub drain in at Hef’s place. Then again, if you knew Lil Jon, you might not be.
My good friend Jessica Sexson-Zins missed our ten year reunion and completely intended to come to the twenty and went so far as issuing threats to drag me to hell with her. This never would have happened. She assures me if she flew all the way to Florida from One Red Light Indiana, my guilt would have made me go.
It’s so adorable how naïve she is sometimes.
I told her more than likely she’d show up and Natalie would probably jump at the chance. Let the two of them get all dolled up and revisit the past (or for Natalie, a past that she never was a part of).
Remember Jim Ford? I’m his wife. He really wanted to come but he had other obligations. The Real Housewives of Terre Haute finale was on.
Although it would be much funnier if Natalie showed up as transgendered post-op Jim Ford (now known as Jane Ford) and introduced Jessica as her “partner.” No, wait, Lackawanna Blues. I want my drag queen name to be Lackawanna Blues. I’m not even talking about drag queens am I. I’m probably using the word “transgendered” wrong, too. Anyway.
A week or so after the reunion Jessica mentioned that although she didn’t get to go, one of her friends did and there were pictures on a website. Apparently someone I went to high school with has a photography business and took his twenty year reunion as an opportunity to take photos and post them to his website where he’d be happy to send you copies for a fee. Classy.
As I clicked through the two hundred and eighty three pictures, my initial reaction was, “Who the hell are these people and how did they get so old?” It was like I had amnesia and was brought to a family reunion. I spent years with these people and I have no idea who the hell they are. There are girls that showed up in multiple pictures I couldn’t identify but when they all converged in one pic suddenly I remembered, “Oh, I remember them… I hated those bitches.” I call this “The Dixie Chick Effect,” in that I never recognize them by themselves but if you put all three of them together a light goes on within fifteen seconds and I say, “Oh, it’s the Dixie Chicks.” It only takes ten seconds if they’re holding violins and five seconds if they’re surrounded by rednecks in sleeveless Toby Keith shirts that don’t understand the First Amendment throwing copies of Wide Open Spaces at them. Some look a little familiar but most of them are gray haired paunchy strangers. I immediately call Jessica.
JIM: Have you been to the reunion photos?
JESSICA: Yes. Who are those people?
JIM: Fuck if I know. Do I look that old?
JESSICA: No. Do I?
JIM: Hell no. Gretchen doesn’t. I saw a picture of Carrie Guarcello on my Facebook and she looks the same.
JESSICA: I’m so glad I didn’t go. I would have been pissed if I flew to Florida and got to a reunion with a bunch of strangers.
Looking at the pictures we both had the same experience. Maybe had we been there and recognized some people we would have started talking about old times and it would have come rushing back. Then again, it could just turn into three hours of repeating my life story over and over again and talking about myself which I have no need for… I already have a blog.
Most of the people are strangers to me and honestly if any of us really cared, we probably would have made more of an effort to keep track of each other in the first place. It’s not like I don’t have friends I’ve kept for twenty years. I’m not criticizing people who go to these things. If you had a great time in high school and you want to see those people again and relive a Bruce Springsteen song, more power to you. It’s just not my thing.
When Natalie came home from work I told her about the photos and my evening on Memory Lane and in her pajamas under a blanket she perked up and asked, “Is there a picture of [She Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken] on the website?”, referring to a past relationship that went on ten years longer than it had any right to.
I told her, “Yes,” and she burst from the couch and ran for the computer.
“This is her? Really? Wow.” There was a long pause. “I am so much cuter than she is.” Then Natalie climbed back under her throw blanket, smiled and ate a popsicle reminding me without words why I had every reason to look forward and no need to look back.