Today in my inbox, mail from Chicklegirl herself: the forwarded invitation to Garfield High School's class of 1988 reunion. Our 20th. Twentieth! [clutches at hair with both fists, exposing gray roots]
Holly and I went to our tenth, which was largely unremarkable except for the ways in which (typical of our class, I think) it was a jolly, disorganized trainwreck. Something went wrong with the bartending contract, and so the jock boys rolled up the sleeves of their dress shirts and lugged cases of beer in from the loading dock themselves. The menu included fried chicken and biscuits, which was actually entirely appropriate and welcome. The bitchiest girls were...well, still fairly bitchy, as it turns out...but now they were all, to a one, blonde. A photographer captured our memories in groups and en masse, collecting our cash and scribbled addresses, and was never heard from again--or at least, not by me. Heh.
I wasn't popular, in high school--I wasn't actively unpopular, but I didn't cut a wide swath of influence. In the larger world of Garfield, I was meek and mute, not a joiner of clubs or teams; mostly I was petrified, every waking moment, that I would commit some tactical error or grave misstep and expose some element of my secret, spastic dorkitude for public riducule. Best to say nothing! I had a small circle of close friends that I loved, that I think loved or at least very kindly, stoically tolerated me, and the ceaseless comic stylings I unleashed in their safe environment. Holly was much better known, with many more irons in the fire: swim team and debate, newspaper staff, generally far less of an uptight goob than I was. I trailed happily in her social wake for years. At the 10-year reunion, I reaped the results of this as classmate after classmate descended upon her, crying "Holly!" and sweeping her into an embrace. Then they'd inevitably turn to me and say "And...hey! Hi...you!" I'm not complaining, here, truthfully; it was genuniely funny, to watch them fumble for my name. It was a difference between us that I'd entirely forgotten about.
It wasn't a bad evening at all, that tenth reunion. People generally looked good; they were healthy and happy and gainfully employed (or in graduate school, employment's polar opposite). I enjoyed it. I smiled around at them all, and I thought: wow, I don't ever have to do this again! Not out of any resentment or regret. I bore no ill will towards anyone. I simply realized that there was a reason that I hadn't seen any of those people in a decade: because I didn't care. The handful of people I truly adored, and still wanted to be in contact with...I already was. The rest of 'em: eh. We were all okay. Good for us! Okay! Bye bye now!
So I had mixed feelings, opening that invitation this morning. There were a few people I'd been wildly curious about, who hadn't shown up at the 10th; would they bother, with the 20th? I'm thinking of the obese girl with Coke-bottle-lens glasses who signed my yearbook with a Bible verse. Some kids tormented her openly for years; I didn't, but I sure as shit didn't stand up for her either. I kept a low profile, laughed when they did. I do remember trying, on a few occasions, to coax a more vibrant personality out of her: maybe a cute nickname? maybe a sassy new haircut? That was me in a nutshell, the dopey optimist at 15--surely everything could be repaired with just the right makeover! Anyway. I had revenge fantasies on that girl's behalf. I wanted her to show up at our 10th, glamorous and obscenely wealthy, some sort of mogul. I wanted her to stalk in fabulously and tell us all to go fuck ourselves, and I would've leapt up and applauded, absolved of some of my guilt at snickering behind her back in the cacophony of the hallways, years before. But she didn't show.
Twenty years. Is there anything I really want or need to revisit? No, I think, no and no. But nonetheless I clicked through to the event site, and was rewarded: by several of the huge-haired senior portraits other people had already posted on the Classmates page...and by the sound file playing underneath the site in a constant loop: Run-D. M. C., "You Be Illin'." Ohhhhhh, yeeeaaahhh. I laughed and laughed. That there, it's almost enough to convince me.