The graduate.

I’m skipping my 30-year high school reunion this summer.

Our class is unusually reunion-happy. We reunite every five years, and this will be the first one I’ll miss. The 5-year event passed in a drunken haze. The 10th was too loud; never book a band for a party where people would rather talk than dance. The 15th was downtown (I think), and was memorable mainly for discovering one of the class’ most reliable and low-key marijuana connections was now a funeral director. The 20th was OK, I guess. The 25th featured a T-shirt with “millennium” misspelled, and sticks in my mind mostly for being the first where I thought everyone looked really old.

(And everyone thought that. I took a seat where I could watch people arriving, and you could see the faces as they came in and looked around the room — the frozen smile, the I-must-be-in-the-wrong-place darting eyes, the oh-my-God-I-hope-I-don’t-look-this-bad expressions.)

They weren’t bad parties, all things considered. One year I had a fascinating chat with a guy about how drug offenders on probation try to beat their urine tests. I had a long conversational interlude with a girl I knew only a little in high school, and discovered she’d become a marvelous, funny woman; I regretted not knowing her better in school. My friend Cindy, one of two Jews in a class of more than 700, was casually asked how she liked living in “Yidville,” now that she’s moved to the Jewish suburb of Bexley.

“Well, you don’t live there, you racist piece of shit, so it’s pretty nice,” she replied.

He thought she was joking. She wasn’t.

Thin girls showed up fat. Fat girls showed up thin. Men grew rounder and balder. Last reunion, I admired someone’s diamond solitaire. As I did, someone else in the conversation blurted, “My husband left me for my best friend.”

Reunions. Emotions always run high.

But this time, I’m not making the trip. I don’t know why, except that the whole process is beginning to bug me. The T-shirts with all the old-age jokes (“1975, KEG. 2005, EKG”), for one. I just got another e-mail begging me to help locate the “lost souls,” and I always check to see if Tim Doulin is still on the list. He is. I wonder how long it’ll take someone to figure out Tim is a reporter for the local newspaper, and his name appears in its pages several times a week. (Oh well — they always say readers don’t notice bylines.) There’s another reporter on the list, but he says if I tell them where he is, he’ll disown me. At least he writes out of town.

But this year Cindy isn’t going, and she’s my usual companion at these things. Honestly, there’s not a soul I’m curious about. The In Memorium page now includes that great girl I had that delightful chat with — heart trouble, diabetes, etc. I think: Is it worth the trip? I think: No.

I guess I finally graduated.

But hey! My sense of humor remains, er, sophomoric. I thought this was a stitch:

A penis that tells jokes on late night public access television may be expressive of something. But it is not the kind of freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment, the Michigan Court of Appeals has decided, confirming the indecent exposure conviction of the show’s producer and host.

Someone tell Frank Rich. Or maybe not:

The offensive talking penis did a form of Rodney Dangerfield-esque comedy (“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was in the army ya know. I didn’t do much, ya know what I mean? I just hung around.”)

Who says there’s nothing on TV in Grand Rapids? If Paul Schrader knew this, he’d have never left.

Posted at 9:02 pm in Uncategorized |

19 responses to “The graduate.”

  1. deb said on May 11, 2005 at 10:28 pm

    the one thing that always strikes me at reunions is how easily we lapse into exactly the same dynamics we had in high school, as if none of us had changed during the intervening years. so when somebody steps out of character, we don’t quite know how to deal.

    i missed my 25th, but a friend said it was weird hearing my ex-husband offer the opening prayer: “i mean, one day you’re in the locker room with a guy, waving your weinies around and telling dirty jokes, and the next thing you know, the guy’s a minister.”

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  2. Gene said on May 11, 2005 at 11:07 pm

    Speaking of beating drug tests, airport security stopped a member of the Minnesota Vikings for carrying the Original Whizzinator (not one of those fake whizzinators).

    Actually, it was the freeze-dried, powdered urine that got the TSA’s attention.

    Nancy’s site won’t let me post the link to the USA Today story, so you’ll have to find it yourself.

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  3. harry near indy said on May 12, 2005 at 5:26 am

    i second gene’s comments. i heard the story on a national sports talk show and about busted a gut laughing at the absurdity of it all.

    btw, the player in question — ontarrio smith, a running back — was tested last year for drugs and thc was found in his urine. iirc, he got a four-game suspension.

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  4. Nance said on May 12, 2005 at 8:28 am

    The guy I talked to was fond of this method: He collected the pee from his 3-year-old nephew, then transferred it to a small bag of the sort they use to add medication to your IV. He taped that to his abdomen to keep it warm, and ran the tubing along the underside of his penis. When he had to drop the urine, he thumbed the stopcock on the tube and filled ‘er up. He said the monitors only watch you with one eye — hey, THEY’RE not fags! — so if you had any deftness at all, it was an easy scam.

    “Why not just…stop smoking pot?” I suggested.

    He looked at me as though I were insane.

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  5. Randy said on May 12, 2005 at 10:09 am

    A guy at my wife’s reunion used this line, whispered in her ear:

    “God, I’ve been wanting to jump your bones for 10 years now!”

    He struck out. He’d still be single today, were it not for mail order brides.

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  6. Laura said on May 12, 2005 at 11:10 am

    Yidville? Lovely. You know, the thing that kept me from moving to Upper Arlington was this funny gut feeling I had that it was populated with mean people. Now I’m sure there are pleanty of nice folks in UA, but things like Yidville and the 4th of July Kerry flap doesn’t do too much to promote an image of acceptance.

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  7. Laura said on May 12, 2005 at 11:33 am

    Pleanty? Well, can spell; can’t type.

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  8. jillzilla said on May 12, 2005 at 11:50 am

    Actually, there is nothing on TV in Grand Rapids. Unless you count the newscasters apologizing for mishaps, usually video that doesn’t work on Channel 8. That happens, oh, about twice a week.

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  9. joodyb said on May 12, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    Yidville?, I repeat.

    I lived there for four years and I never heard it called that.

    Tim Doulin! That’s a good one, Nance. I snorted out loud.

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  10. Nance said on May 12, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    The Yidville commenter was drunk and looked as though he’d been that way every day since graduation. Still.

    What Kerry/July 4th flap? I missed that one.

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  11. Laura said on May 12, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    Best I can find on the UA 4th stuff is in the archives of the daily Kos , though it was all over the Central O media last summer/fall. Other than the “Uppity Arlington” crack (which, like Yidville, I’ve never heard), it’s an accurate recount. The highlights:

    Organized early and by taking advantage of the new local political signage rules “UA For Kerry” began placing a few yard signs way back in July. �The group of about 10 at the time had a large sign at the traditional 4th of July parade causing quite a stir in the local suburban newspapers. �When a member of the mostly Republican City Council called it “uncivilized to have any political forum at our beloved parade when we should all be supporting our troops” the battle of Letters to the Editor was off and running. �The Republican side of the opinions ranged from outrage at violating the �”spirit of our city’s traditional values” by having a “left wing political group using our parade for advertising for a political candidate whom Upper Arlington would never support” to passionate discussions of how the name “UA For Kerry” implied that everyone in Upper Arlington was for Kerry and that the city should take legal action immediately to stop it. A complaint to the Ohio Elections Commission filed in August by a UA resident, who called the name “inflammatory campaign literature,” was dismissed

    Also last summer, charges were brought against a UA attorney for instructing his 13-year-old daughter to remove a UA for Kerry sign from a neighbor’s yard. And things just kept going like that until the election.

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  12. Nance said on May 12, 2005 at 5:09 pm

    Good lord. I have a vague memory of the sign-removing daughter, but the parade thing flew right over my radar. It’s true that politics is not usually a part of the parade, but mainly because it happens in midsummer. Arlington has “traditional values.” I can tell them a thing or two about the community’s values. From experience.

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  13. brian stouder said on May 12, 2005 at 6:04 pm

    you know, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a parade where an elected official wasn’t hoofing along and glad-handing everyone. That’s got to be at least as American as apple pie….in fact, when you read about how politics was done in the 19th century, with torch-light parades and brass bands and all, the thought occurs that parades were invented (or at least institutionalized) by politicians!

    Sounds like the people who were bitching have too much time on their hands

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  14. Joe said on May 12, 2005 at 6:58 pm

    Yidville?? I guess Columbus hasn’t changed since I lived there 24 years ago.

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  15. mary said on May 13, 2005 at 12:30 am

    I’m trying to imagine what sort of local programming Paul Schrader might produce for Grand Rapids. Lots of Dutch Reformed angst, I think.

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  16. ashley said on May 13, 2005 at 7:19 am

    Brian, go to Mardi Gras. Then you’ll see parades without politicians or commercialism.

    How anti-capitalistic!

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  17. harry near indy said on May 13, 2005 at 8:26 pm

    as for high school reunions …

    iirc, it’s more of a female thing — showing off and seeing who’s up and who’s down the social-economic ladder.

    i graduated from high school back in 1972. had a 10-year and 20-year reunion, but no 30-year reunion.

    that was fine with me. i can take or leave them.

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  18. TSO said on May 16, 2005 at 12:56 pm

    FYI, the Dispatch recently used the word “twat”, as reported by the Other Paper.

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  19. James Kabala said on May 16, 2005 at 2:33 pm

    At the height of his fame, Charles Schulz of “Peanuts” was on his high school renunion’s can’t-find-list. Apparently it never occurred to anyone that the Charles Schulz they knew was the same Charles Schulz who was in the paper every day.

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