Some people know how to throw a party. Fifty years is a lot to celebrate. Quite a few of us didn’t even make it. I went to my fifth high school reunion this weekend and this one should have been the best. Maybe it was. Maybe the standards have shifted.
I was looking forward to the first few hours of chaos, when everyone arrives and you spot an old friend across the room that you haven’t seen since high school, or someone greets you by name and you have no idea who it is, when someone tells you the silliest story, something they remember about you that doesn’t even sound like you. That you. There is a real buzz in the air as you reconnect and find yourself talking to someone you never said a word to in high school.
We experienced all this last week at Peggi’s reunion outside of Detroit. The ones my classmates threw every ten years went like this as well but something was off this time. The get together at the sports bar the night before was pure fun. Surrounded by giant tvs we managed to whoop it up. The reunion itself, the next night at the old Happy Acres golf club, was almost planned to death. Name tags were distributed as we filed in and we were encouraged to find a table so an MC/minister/classmate could work the room. And after that the town supervisor, also a classmate, said his piece. They killed the buzz in record time but we managed to rise above it all. We just had to work a little harder. We were sitting with Joe and he knows how to act. And before dinner was even finished we were milling about and magical conversations ensued.
We drove out here with Frank, the school president in 1968, and we didn’t want to leave until he had finished holding court with Marianne, Holly and Mickey so we hung out by the bar. A classmate said goodbye but came back about ten minutes later because he had forgotten his sports jacket. The committee was packing up the Party Store decorations when we went out for the car. The guy who had forgotten his jacket was still there, trying to get an Uber. He said he might be impaired and he didn’t want to jeopardize his job. We offered to give him a ride.
The front seat was Frank’s because his hip is new so we asked our passenger to sit in the back with Peggi. He had a hard time getting in because both of his knees had been replaced. We found Frank at the door and met another classmate there who was smoking a cigarette. He had too much to drink so we offered to give him a ride even though our car’s four seats were full. He refused our offer and we left. Peggi asked our back seat passenger what his job was and he told us he was a financial planner. He dropped something on the floor and fumbled around for it. It was a breathalyzer. His own breathalyzer.