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.