It seems like only yesterday I was failing to attend my grad dance. To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of that non-event in my life, I failed to attend my high school reunion as well.
Anxious as I was to relive the memory of the five-year prison term that supplied me with so many of the neuroses I hold near and dear today, I managed to come down with a cold the day-of and decided it might be best to skip.
The school system here is a little different from elsewhere. Because we have CEGEP and no junior high, five years is the standard length of time for high school in Quebec. So taking five years to complete it makes me neither brilliant or retarded, merely invisibly average, which was my academic goal for all eighteen years of my formal education.
Fan as I am of communicable diseases, I thought the nice thing to do would be to stay home and not infect everyone with my germs. I also figured it wouldn’t make the best impression, after twenty years, to meet and greet people with my nose melting off my face.
But I can guess what I missed. Having attended a smaller, less formal reunion a couple of years ago, I know how these things go down. People who used to see each other every single day throughout their teens meet for the first time in many years and share insightful exchanges such as:
“I have no memory of you whatsoever.”
“I don’t remember you either.”
“Well okay then.”
And then they go order drinks with someone they do remember and ask them, “Who the fuck was that?”
And when a more general group discussion breaks out, the first topic is always:
“Someone must be dead, right? A car accident, maybe?”
“Cancer! How about cancer? Somebody has to be dead from cancer.”
I never saw a group of people so disappointed to learn they had failed to outlive anyone from their graduating class. Divorces, yes. Hard times, I’m sure. Prison and rehab, almost certainly. But nobody died. Not yet.
But I’m sure we can come up with a few viable DOAs by the time our twenty-fifth rolls around if we only apply ourselves.
In a desperate bid to have the reunion happen in 2005 before it was too late to call it a twenty-year reunion, the meeting was called for December 27th, a date scientifically determined to be the one day of the year when the fewest people would be able to attend. As a result, scanning the faces in the group photo, I see few people I was close to. The rest will have to touch base at some future date.
Only then will I be afforded the opportunity to catch up and swap stories and recollections of that bygone era. Like how we used to pop down to the local diner after class with our buddies Richie and Ralph and Potsie and play the jukebox and cruise chicks. Or all those times when Spicoli and Mr. Hand clashed in history class because Spicoli was totally stoned every day. Or that one time when everyone stuffed the ballot box to make sure I was voted prom queen and I got up on stage and they dumped pig’s blood on me and then I killed everyone with telekinesis.
Ah, sweet memories. Remember them? I’m sure we all do, even as we completely fail to remember each other.