This past Saturday was my high school class reunion at a restaurant in Marion.
In high school I was a lot thinner and I had more hair and I could drink Pepsi Cola without my pancreas raising a fuss. I was also the class geek: I kept to myself, focused on my classwork, associated with few people, and was the target of torment by the alpha babes in my class. (The alpha dudes left me alone.)
Nor could I seek refuge in front of a computer. Back then personal computers did not exist except in kit form, which I did not know existed; and timesharing systems like DEC PDPs were restricted to places like Purdue and Ball State.
Thirty years have past. A lot of my classmates are dead, mostly from natural causes, one or two of them by murder. Many of them might as well be dead, because they have scattered all over the country and will probably never return. Of those who are left, only a couple of them are remarkably well-preserved. The rest are some permutation of grey-haired, saggy, and fat. Some have lost so much of their hair that they now shave themselves totally bald. And almost all of them are unrecognizable because I remember their forms in high school — forms they have, um, transcended some time ago.
Anyway, I put on a suit with optional tie in the jacket pocket, and drove down. The restaurant was originally a mill along the river; it had its good and bad times, but was recently remodelled into a decent place to eat. I was one of the first to show up, even though I was fifteen minutes late.
In the end a couple of dozen people showed up. Some of them I did not recognize at first for reasons noted above. Also, I did not recognize some of them because I never associated with them when I was in high school, so I needed the helpful display of high-school pictures near the door to match names with faces.
Most of the attendees have jobs that have been knocked around in the current recession, while they have trouble accepting that there is one. I learned from one, a building contractor, that wood is more expensive now, partly due to the recession and partly from people in Katrina-hit areas hogging it all. That means if I want to replace my deck I will have to pay out mucho dinero.
I will mention one of my classmates by name, Judy Pettit, because I did not recognize her at once. I do not associate Judy with blonde hair or pink jackets. Evidently Judy dyes her hair like my sister the editor, but chooses conventional colors. She normally hangs around with Anna Justus; but while I see Anna a lot (she helps run the Giant Bar & Grill, where I get my Thursday night takeout), I have not seen Judy for a long time.
The buffet-size meal itself consisted of chicken or roast beef so thinly sliced that it looked like some sort of membrane, boiled Russet potatoes, green beans, dinner roll with some kind of cinnamon spread, and my choice of thick chocolate brownies or some kind of melon salad.
Afterwards we gathered together for the group picture. The digital camera they were using did not have a wide-photo lens, so it looks like they will have to do a composite before they submit it to the News-Sun, the local paper. (Whether the News-Sun will take it is problematic.)
The problem with reunions like ours is that it takes a year to plan and to contact ex-classmates, so that they can plan ahead to take the time to come. The usual planners tend to start one or two months before the reunion date, and they are jamming the planning on top of their regular activities. That is why the last two reunions (this year and 1998’s) kind of flopped.
The one in 1993 was much better because it offered the choice of get-together, picnic, or both. The get-together was a bomb, mainly because the DJ they hired did not want to play music from the 1970’s — and I don’t blame him. I attended the picnic on a farm in Blackford County, and this is the much better of the two.