|Where I'm From|
|Class Reunion Revisited|
by Jim Allen
Along with high school graduation time, May is a favorite month for the women of your graduating class to organize a class reunion. Not that the rest of us really care to ever see each other again, their matriarchal instincts compel them to bring their long, lost tribe back together.
Our gathering was a couple of years ago. I won’t tell you how many decades, but let’s just say the bride and groom of the shotgun wedding we had the summer before our twelfth grade year now have a grandchild in her first year of high school.
The committee of women realized early on that to get enough people there, more than one graduating class would have to be invited. A class above ours and the two younger classes were chosen. With only a few dozen in each of the four graduating classes, maybe they could persuade fifty couples to show up.
The event planning got off to a rocky start when the self-appointed chairperson of the reunion committee got in a catfight with a couple other members. They excluded her from any future meetings and vowed not to acknowledge her existence the night of the gathering. It was like elementary school playground antics all over again.
They managed to pull it off and a few more than the expected fifty couples converged on the country club ballroom for a night of reminiscing (or rehashing a lot of stuff some of us had spent a good bit of time trying to forget). I only have room to describe a fraction of what went on that night.
The first thing I noticed were the folks who were missing. Burt wasn’t there. He’s in the Air Force working for NASA out in California. He’s apparently pretty high up because another classmate of ours got him to put a 35mm film canister of gourd seeds on one of the space shuttle flights back in the ‘80s. The gourds produced from the seed were nothing out of the ordinary.
Marsha couldn’t get away from her home in the Florida Keys where she teaches parasailing and makes pottery. She sells her work at a local art house. Craig’s a real estate broker out in Houston and couldn’t get away because of a couple of deals he had pending. Current addresses couldn’t be found for several other people.
Tragedies were also responsible for some absences. Patty fell asleep and hit a bridge railing her second year of college. Dee Dee, who I thought was the prettiest girl in our class and one of the nicest, rear-ended a cotton trailer. She had been married only a few months. Joey was on one of his fishpond levees after a storm and a power line got hung under his truck. They found his body on the bank of the pond a few hours later. Larry had become a partner in a successful law practice before he lost his long battle with leukemia. Chase had moved to Boston and died from complications of HIV. The only person in our class that we strongly suspected of being mistreated at home as a child had turned to substance abuse. About a year before she took her own life, Credence had confided in another of our classmates that the pills kept her from feeling so cold and alone.
Enough gloom, back to the party!
First of all, the band they’d hired knew seven songs. I counted them. After we’d been there a couple or three hours, Ed Duncan, who had decided to get every cents worth of his $50 registration fee back from the open bar, started hitting on Pamela Quarles.
Ed had been the quarterback on our pitiful little football team and had been voted ‘Most Handsome’ in the yearbook. He was still the big man on campus in his own mind. In reality, he had just gotten shed of his third wife after a dispute in which she not only threw his stuff in the frontyard but doused everything in gasoline and set it on fire. He had a beer belly that made him look like he was a month past due and some of his front teeth had fallen out along with most of his hair. He’s managed to hang on to his position as the meat man at the Pig since graduation.
Anyway, Pam slapped the stew out of him and before he could get the taste back in his mouth, her husband, Ernie, lit into him like a bannie hen on a house cat. We dragged Ed’s unconscious body outside and put him on the hood of his pickup. He was still sprawled there when we drove home.
Most of the cheerleaders from our school were very nice people and the embodiment of school spirit and youthful vitality. But there was this one girl, a grade younger, a little, petite cutie who wouldn’t give a clod like me a second glance. She was the daughter of a big plantation farmer and thought she was better than the rest of us. The other girls on the squad couldn’t understand why she was that way and were really embarrassed by the way she acted. Anyway, after school, she married her daddy’s farm manager who took over the farm after her father’s death.
Turns out, hubby was more interested in going to the gambling boat than he was running a business. He lost just about everything his father-in-law had built, and then ran off with some blackjack dealer. When she walked into the room, fashionably late (or maybe because she had second thoughts about coming), we were flabbergasted. A 55-gallon drum with a mustache is the only way to describe her. She’d apparently given up on plucking her eyebrows and had taken to brushing them out. We could only guess that she bought her dress at an awning company. This was a sad case of poetic justice if I’d ever seen it. But, you know what, we were nice to her. Some of us even danced with her.
Like the write up in the local paper’s society column stated in the next week’s issue: "A good time was had by all."
Disclaimer: The story you just read is based on reality. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Any likeness any character in this story has to you, your family or anybody you know or have known is completely coincidental.