Monday, August 04, 2003

Prelude to a high school reunion

“50-60 out of 265 will show up, a good number of marrieds/engageds, a few kids (though none will be there), a divorce or two, a quiet person who got hot, hot people who fell, quite a bit of fat, some bald, some unexpected surprises (of the i-didn't-realize-we-were-that-close variety), some drama, at least a couple people on the prowl, a hook-up, a few people to overdrink and pretty much everyone complaining that things ended too early b/c they want to keep drinking.”

That was more or less my prediction of what my 10-year high school reunion would be. As someone in touch with just three people from the Sweet Home High School Class of 93 -- who also were in touch with just three people, how could we be expected to venture guesses any more specific than that? But based on other friends' descriptions of their reunions, I figured that this would be a pretty close.

August 1993: A group of about 6 honors grads from the Sweet Home High School Class of 1993 have dinner at Bennigan's restaurant in Amherst, NY on the eve of going off to college. We wish each other well and promise to K.I.T. (keep in touch for those foggy on their high school yearbook speak). Well, that largely turns into a big “yeah, um, sure....”

November 1996: Scott T., my best friend from high school, e-mails to tell me that he found e-mail addresses for Linda D. and Kerri Z. (two high school friends we had lost touch by senior year in college). He asks if I'd be interested in getting together to catch up during semester break. I'm in...

December 1996: The four of us get together at T.G.I.Friday's (where else do suburban kids go?) and have a good time reminiscing about the “old days,” sharing our own plans (all grad school) and speculating about our classmates' paths as our senior years in college wind down. Scott and I relate our run-in with a class hottie who got fat. It ignites curiousity. [Confession of character flaw that makes our protagonists more relateable-- we we're relishing the delicious possibility that people might be getting fat, losing hair, pumping gas and wearing the same clothes they wore in high school.] Our fledgling morbid curiosity leads us to make THE PACT -- come hell or high water, we're going to the 10-year reunion. (i'd like to point out that we made THE PACT and used that word some three years before American Pie came out).

Over the next 6 years: we do actually stay in touch via e-mail and try to catch up at least once a year during holiday breaks or when we happen to be in Buffalo at the same time. There is continuous reminder of THE PACT, even though at this point we're in Albany, NY; Los Angeles; San Diego; and Maryland.

The other staple activity of trips home (even when we're unable to see each other) is scoping our old haunts (like malls and restaurants) for people we went to school with, and then of course subsequent updating. Usually those dispatches were restricted to a visual assessment since we didn't actually want to talk to these people. We relied mainly on Kerri's parents to share details with her about news they heard. The news is of all sorts of varieties: kids, coming outs, jobs, engagements/weddings... whatever.

As 2002 gets ripe we start wondering when we are going to hear about the reunion., a beautiful use of the Internet, contains zilch. And living up to the apathy of our class, as much as we purport to care about the reunion, it's not like any of us would do a damned thing to like make it happen though or anything.

Late 2002: Hypotheticals become realities as the Sweet Home High School Class of 1993 Reunion Committee emerges via e-mails to those they have managed to find. There's not much info at this point, but more is promised soon. Appetites are whetted.

Early 2003: Eventually a date is set (Aug. 2), a cost is revealed ($25 if you reply by July 1) and then reality hits. I already have a March wedding to fly back to Buffalo for and I am working at a not-for-profit, how the hell am I going to afford this?

A Friday April 2003: Kerri or Linda e-mails about her growing enthusiasm for the reunion. Me, the guy who does the most reminding about THE PACT, sends out an email to the PACTees saying that I'm doubtful (to be optimistic) about my attendance. I just don't think that I can afford. I deservedly get a little heat for this.

The following Saturday: While doing layout and design for our May issue of the teen newspaper I work for, I get into a conversation with our designer whose 10-year reunion is also this summer. She tells me of the surreal experience that was her 5th, my enthusiasm is amped up. I go home, find a supercheap flight and book my ticket, only catch--I have to fly out the day of the reunion and I'll get there a little late. I e-mail the PACTees and tell them of my reversal of fortune. More e-mails questioning my wishy-washy decision making ensue (deservedly so).

The next couple months....: The speculation is ramped up high now... who's gonna attend? who's gonna look like what? Who’s doing what? who never left? who came home? honestly, the PACTees are all feeling a little smug about our stations in life. One PhD, one almost, and the other two both have masters degrees and none of us are living in the 716 (area code).

The weeks before the reunion: What do we wear? Linda, Kerri and I are wondering what would be appropriate and make us look good, too. Eventually others get curious as well and send e-mails asking what's expected? Thankfully (i wish this was an audio email so that I could melodramatize the sarcasm here), the organizers tell us that Prom Dresses and Tuxes are unnecessary. Instead, professional casual would be fine: no jeans, no shorts, no sandals. Ties, jackets unnecessary. Khakis with a nice shirt would be fine, for the guys. And a nice pair of slacks or skirt with a nice blouse or top would be acceptable for women.

My designer friend of mine in L.A. whose reunion is coming up this weekend (second weekend Aug), emails about her outfit. She wants to go punk; we brainstorm that a black bandanna would be great.

Friday Aug. 1: It's out of control L.A. vanity time. I model four shirts with two jackets each (so 8 outfits) for Scott, who cannot attend, and his girlfriend. They help me decide on what to wear. I know that I'll likely be a touch overdressed, but I figure it's better to look a little too up than scuzzy. (this might have been a case of me forgetting my area code....).

Saturday Aug. 2: The alarm goes off 5:55 a.m. for my 6:30 a.m. departure. I figure with an 8 a.m. flight, i need to get to LAX in plenty of time. FORESIGHT ALERT. The United Airlines terminal looked like a 3rd world refugee camp. You couldn't discern any lines leading to anything. A woman is ready to deck me after I cut her off while fighting my way to a courtesy agent. I ask him if there's a better alternative for people not checking a bag. He points me to a bank of computers that has exactly three people waiting for it. I'm done in two minutes and I head to the security checkpoint bypassing the woman with the dirty look. Security line moves quickly enough (considering that they closed a checkpoint while the line was actually getting longer). Flight goes great to D.C. and I am feeling good. Karma seems on my side, while walking to my gate filled with glee of someone whose flight is scheduled to leave on time, I wonder whether it would be funny to make a Romy and Michelle's joke and tell people that I invented Post-Its. Then I come to my senses and decide, Uh no.

I get to my gate and stand around waiting. And I keep waiting and waiting and waiting until after the clock moves past the scheduled departure time (5 p.m.). At 5:10 p.m. gate agent dude says we'll be getting an update at 5:30 p.m. b/c of a mechanical problem. At 5:45 p.m. gate agent dude gets back on the indecipherable PA system to announce that the flight is still delayed and something about 6 p.m. I guess he said that we'll board at 6 p.m. because we do. I call my parents, who are supposed to pick me up at 6:15 to tell them of my new arrival time 7ish, and my friends at the reunion to ask them to save me food. All I've eaten all day is something that they called a “cheese omelette” served by an airline employee. A braver/stupider thing, I've never done.

I do land on time (according to the updated schedule) and my parents are there to fly me to the reunion via empty upstate New York highways. And it's on to the reunion....

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