Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gaudy Night.

I woke up after my massage (mmmmm) and wanted some meat.

So I went to The Usual Place, where I was confronted by a whole bunch of fifty-ish people with bad hair, being loud. It was a class reunion of some sort.

I was fascinated. And scared.

I think everybody there graduated in about 1977, because all the women had some version of 1977 Hair. The men were either bald with goatees or mulleted with goatees. Everybody had thick Texas accents (another clue; by 1987, when I graduated, *nobody* had an accent, even the ropers) and was smoking insanely long, thin cigarettes and drinking weird martinis with, like, chocolate in them.

I had planned to sit and read Gaudy Night and eat too much, but I ended up getting my order to go and having an irresponsible amount of Talisker while I waited. It wasn't the smell of Stetson that got to me, but the looks on their faces.

Dorothy Sayers said in that very book (and here I'm paraphrasing) that the young, when reunited with their classmates, talk soberly about life and its responsibilities. The old go to bed wondering if they've worn as badly as their contemporaries. The middle-aged are the loud ones, because they're trying to recapture their youth and keep fear at bay.

Every person who walked through the door scanned the crowd of people standing at the bar, perhaps hoping to see somebody who wasn't cruel to them in high school. They all greeted each other with the same hearty handshake for the men, high-pitched squealing for the women. Everyone looked brittle and hopeful and a little bit frightened, as if they were afraid that time hadn't changed who they were at fifteen, and that people there would see through the house, the kids, the car, the job, and shut them up in the 2010 equivalent of a locker again.

A few weeks ago, a woman I'd idolized in high school put up a post on Facebook, that reanimator of teenaged angst, about how weird it was to have people friending her who were nasty to her when we all went to Littleton High. Given that she was about the smartest, most stylish, most cutting-edge person I'd met up to that point, I was amazed that anyone could have bullied her or been nasty. Just before that, another pal of mine had written about his own high-school reunion, "I couldn't have gotten drunk if I'd tried; my nerves were too frazzled."

I don't think most of us ever really age past fourteen or sixteen or eighteen. I'm lucky; I don't remember much of those years (anxiety and depression have a benefit!), so I just regressed to being an eight-year-old boy. Bugs are way cool, poop is hilarious, and if you say "Bloody Mary" enough times into a mirror, a headless bartender will appear and take your order.

I really hope, when I'm fifty-five, that I have something other to talk about than having visited every Harrah's (is that the name?) casino in the world, except for the one in Saint Louis. I hope my hair isn't the same as it is now, though it wouldn't be so bad to have my 1987 flattop. I hope like hell that I'm never in a room with people who smelled like they did in high school--with one notable exception--and who haven't really done much since then.

It would really suck to be mulleted and smell like bad, sweet roper cologne. Though me with a bright-red goatee would be okay. It would save on tweezing.


Sarah said...

I am 47. I took my small people kayaking today, and today the dolphins decided to play with us. When I am 57 I expect that I will be kayaking, hoping that dolphin will play with me. I don't worry about getting older. I am just glad that I AM getting older.

kg said...

Just went through that reunion last summer. Only one I've been to, won't do another for a long time. But, I did get to re-connect with a good friend from the '70's that dared to be real. (another nurse, go figure!) So that was worth the pain.

me said...

There's a reason I've never gone to a high school class reunion!!!


messymimi said...

Two great truths come to mind:
1. Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
2. Growing older is mandatory, growing up is optional.

Just My 2¢ said...

High School class of 1975. You can't go home again. I've had enough weirdness getting back in touch with a few high school friends on Facebook. I went to elementary school with quite a few of them.

It's too traumatic to answer the question, "So what have you been up to for the last 30 years?" Death, cancer, job losses, divorce, schizophrenia ... I just don't feel like reliving everything for them.

Sarah G said...

This September, I am going to my 30-year HS reunion. Not far off from that '77 crowd!

I was smart, but a freakin' wallflower. I'm afraid I have no impressive resume to give them, but I DO have a lot of weird hobbies. According to Sayer, I should be talking big!

I'm impressed that you've been to that many casinos. We would have something to talk about!


danielle said...

Too funny.....this OCt we are going to hubby's 40th HS class reunion (mine is next year). I know now when I walk in I will be snickering because I am thinking of your post!

A NURSE said...

I am 55. I went to my 20th reunion and never another. I have nothing in common with any of them. I won't FB friend them either. I have never been to a Harrah's and hate casinos...and thankfully I look nothing like I did in highschool. But it is true. Inside you basically stay the same age. You just know more, and are a lot smarter. ;) At least, some are.

Anonymous said...

I have no desire to go to my high school reunions. I spent most of hs working my butt off, daydreaming about being done with that world and starting my Real Life.

I quit FB because I found myself spending too much time comparing my life (which is vastly different) with my old classmates' and feeling like I might be missing out (on having the white picket fence with 2.5 or a fabulous job that regularly takes me too exotic places like Hong Kong or Cincinnati).

I feel like that's all I would end up doing at a reunion. I like my Real Life (usually) and I don't need to waste my time comparing or explaining it to people I was never really friends with anyway.

I would much prefer to concentrate on where I'm going rather than where I've been, and if I must indulge in a bit nostalgia I can always watch Romy & Michelle again.

But that's just my obstinate and perpetually non-trad take on the issue :).