Sunday, July 10, 2005


I do believe I have found the world’s worst place to pick up men: A women’s high school reunion.

I determined this a couple weeks ago, at the Mother of Mercy Class of 1995 Holy Crap at The Next One We’ll All Be Over Thirty reunion. I was home a grand total of 48 hours, a highly enjoyable 32 of which were passed in the same pair of underwear. Shut up, Delta.

The only clothes I have at home are a Notre Dame parka which I have owned since the beginning of time and a pair oven mitts featuring the General Lee. My mother, dispatched from the Department of Totally Sounds Like a Good Idea at the Time, had a suggestion.

“I still have your uniform jumper.”

Well, yes, the jumper. My class retired the navy blue jumper; the four hundred year old woman at the uniform shop who sewed the zippers in the side retired. (You now officially know every single thing you need to understand about how change is effected on Cincinnati’s West Side.) The classes to follow were outfitted in plaid skirts from the Miss Catholic Dowdy collection. I put together an entire Tribute to the Jumper for our yearbook, text, pictures, and all; it freaking near killed me, and I saved the last uniform I wore as a loving reminder to get a life.

I dug the thing out and held it up against me. When I graduated, I weighed 120 and change. And now I…don’t, so much. I had a decision: I could attend the reunion wearing the clothes on my back—a pair of Umbros and a tshirt reading “Happiness Is Shouting Bingo”—or risk lifelong depression.

Aaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnd.... it totally fit. Or--okay--basically fit. A bit. In a way. It wasn’t until I was driving around Mt. Adams looking for a parking space that I realized that the very greatest part of this plan was walking two blocks from my car to the front door of the bar, in front of people.

You go to your high school reunion for pretty much the sole reason of ascertaining how fugly your classmates have become since graduation day, which was a total disappointment as far as I was concerned, because everybody looked gorgeous, even the ones who were already fugly in high school. Only I had changed, having somehow found a way to become yet paler after three years of residency in Florida.

Roles were maintained. The class presidents planned the reunion, having set plans in motion as they threw away the empty cups from the last one. The slackers didn’t show. The sluts wore skirts the size of an electron and said things like “So I’ve been living with this guy for about a year now. No ring yet, I have no idea why.”

My chief entertainment for the evening consisted of watching people’s faces when I told them that I was a college professor. Polite interest dissolved to shock, which dissolved to horror, which dissolved to what could only be interpreted as a complete loss of confidence in American higher education, which dissolved back to polite interest. Then they would say things like, “Soooooooooo, what else have you been up to?” which pretty much translated to “The last time we spoke, you manless freak, you were slinging Sprite at the Valentines’ Day Dance concession stand.”

Some of these conversations went more smoothly than others.

…so after I graduated with the two majors and the minor I went to graduate school, because I wanted teaching as an option, even though I knew I’d feel politically alienated in the university system, and then I moved to Florida and worked for NASA, which was great, you know, even though the subcontractor was an utter nightmare, and after that I did tech writing in Orlando, but you know how the corporate world is, just intolerable, entirely too structured and stifling, and now I’m a professor at an aeronautical university, and I just love it, although I’m not tenure track, and you know how the pay and benefits are for adjuncts because there’s starting to be a glut of MFA’s out there. I’ll have to pick up some stupid job like textbook editing to make ends meet next summer. So! What’s going on with your career?


I have known a few of them since we were six. On their nametags they had written “Heather”, “Barbara”, and “Janey”, but I saw “Changed My Name to ‘Pathetic-O’,” “Shoved Bryan Connely Down the Steps”, and “Would Not Sit Next to Me On the Bus During the Field Trip to the Natural History Museum.”

“Ohhhhhhhhh, it’s so good to seeeeeee youuuuuuuuu! So happy your life is going well!” they screeched, pulling me to their chests, and I stared at the wall behind them, wondering where this strange person was twenty years ago.

I think grade school is the leading cause of adult suicide. “Remember when Miss Krummen called him ‘Alien’?” one said of a grade school classmate who was recently jailed.

The Miss Krummen phase of our lives took place seventeen years ago. I could win a Pulitzer, and one of these people would issue a press release along the lines of “The person picked last most often for various gym class teams won some stupid award today. She’s acting all hot now.”

Not that I can blame them, really:

FORMER CLASSMATE: Oh man, I remember how obsessed you were with Star Wars.

ME: Yeah… heh. Pretty lame.

FORMER CLASSMATE: So, have you been published lately?

ME: Um.

I got spirit yes I do I got spirit how bout you at:

(This is Bridget, Queen of the Christmas Ball. She became a newscaster and now works for a massive labor organization. The main social contributions person to her right, Queen of the Concession Stand, pretty much consist of yelling at the students in the back row that she doesn't care if they are hung over, pay attention, because someday a big scary person is going to force you into a dark alley, hold a gun to your head, and demand that you reconcile subject-verb agreement.)


kokopelliwoman said...

Fabulous writing! Looking forward to your book. Great sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Cool Blog! If you get a chance I would like to invite you to visit the following shoes blog, it is cool to!

Anonymous said...

Cool Blog! If you get a chance I would like to invite you to visit the following dresses blog, it is cool to!

Anonymous said...

Cool Blog! If you get a chance I would like to invite you to visit the following t-shirt blog, it is cool to!

Previous Tastings