I wasn’t going to go to my 45th reunion, mostly because I had gone to the 35th and wasn’t impressed by anything they had to offer, especially the 20-something DJ who inexplicably, did not have any pre-21st century music on his DJ computer and became quite upset when I offered him $20 to put on the radio and tune to an oldies station.
Fast forward 10 years (I did not go to the 40th), the invitation arrived, I glanced at it, $65 for the event, which included a buffet with “carving stations”, a band and a cash bar. I placed the invite under a magnet on the fridge and forgot about it.
During one of our weekly conversations, my best friend since High School announced that he had bought two tickets to the Reunion, plus booked a room at the hotel that was hosting the event. Assuming (but hoping not) that the second ticket was for me, I immediately began thinking of excuses to not go, the wheels stopped turning when my best buddy said “I’m taking Candi” meaning his on-again, off-again girlfriend. Then he asked if I was going? I said I hadn’t decided, then threw away the invitation as soon as we hung up.
Unfortunately, this was not the end of the Reunion conversation. The Wednesday before the event, my buddy called and announced that the on-again, off-again Candi was off-again, she needed a break and would I take her ticket and go with him to the Reunion. Eventually, I acquiesced only after establishing that the room had to have two double beds if I was to stay the night, as he had already told me that he and on-again, off-again, always booked a king-sized bed.
While packing for the event, it became apparent that I didn’t have much to wear to such an outing, not that I don’t have plenty of clothes, which I do, but what to wear that made me look smaller around the waist and a little taller than my 5’9″ ? I dug through an old steamer trunk looking for the cowboy boots that at one time (before another left foot injury) were my daily nonathletic foot wear. Couldn’t even get them on my feet, which left sneakers, work boots or golf shoes, then I recalled that there was a Goodwill store around the corner from the hotel and decided to give it a whirl, success, black leather (?) slip-ons with at least an inch of heel, $4, perfect !!
The Reunion began at 6, but my buddy wanted to check in early so we could avail ourselves of the heated indoor pool, which worked for me. When travelling, I prefer a hotel with an indoor pool and room service, and a nice restaurant, with complimentary breakfast and a golf course and a hot tub in the room/suite. Have I missed anything?
Arriving at the hotel at about 3pm, I checked in, was told that I couldn’t get a key without my buddy’s permission. To which I replied, “then you should call the room and get it…please”. He did and I was on my way to room 408, which thankfully had two Queen sized beds. I hadn’t seen my buddy for a couple of years, somewhat because of the “pandemic” and somewhat because of his failed marriage that he hadn’t even told me about until it was nearly over. That’s just the way he is, communication wise that is, every now and then he disappears from my life, won’t return calls, usually lasts for a month or two, the last time it was a year, maybe more. It bothered me the first time or two, since then it’s just Paul being Paul, besides, he’s my best friend.
We had a couple of cocktails in the room, took a dip in the pool, showered and dressed for the event. Me in black dress pants, a white golf shirt and a red, black and white patterned sweater, new shoes, Paul in skinny jeans that looked too small for his 6’3″ frame, a wrinkled white button down shirt and slip on shoes.
Checking in at the red and white (school colors) decorated table inside the door of the ballroom housing our event, Paul was given a plastic covered yearbook photo with his name, I (not being expected) was given a stick-on label on which I wrote X X and left it at that. There was also a “goody bag” with a metal reusable water container and a paper program with the names of all the classmates who were expected to attend the evenings festivities, about 70 out of a class of 700+. On the back cover were all the class members that had died, about the same number that were expected at the Reunion, I wondered if that meant anything? I wondered further when I counted the number of dead classmates that I knew and compared it to the number of live classmates present that I knew, the dead won out 11 to 9.
Most of the people at the gala were strangers, even after seeing their yearbook photo’s and reading the names under those photo’s. The exceptions were a couple of women whose names I recognized but did not look even vaguely familiar, ditto for a couple of guys and one guy who I still don’t believe was the person he presented himself to be. Then there were the two or three who I knew, mostly because they looked close to how they did 10 years earlier.
The night rolled on, the food was decent, the four piece band actually played music from the 70’s and 80’s, all with a large screen backdrop of the yearbook photo’s, live classmates as well as the dearly departed. Paul’s had a hairstyle that looked as if he was wearing earmuffs, I was resplendent in my custom made fringed Deerskin pullover, designed to look like the one Alan Ladd wore in “Shane”, I recall thinking and not for the first time, that black and white photography did not do it justice.
Toward the end of the allotted time, all the classmates that hadn’t already left lined up for a group photo, about fifty of us stood, sat and squatted for the camera, most of those that had to squat needed help up off the floor.
The staff finally kicked out the remaining few of us at about 10:30, some headed to their rooms, some went home, a couple went to one’s van and five or six headed into the bar, where we were told that they close at 11pm. “On a Saturday night?” I asked the not too thrilled bartender, who, one would think would be happy to see customers, she clearly was not.
Good to her word, the bartender ushered us out the door at 11, I finished my drink with a few others in the lobby and went to my room wondering how many people would be at the 50th and if I would be one of them?