The Reunion
October 24, 2007

Where to start? I should probably start from the beginning, which was the horrendous travel itself, but instead, I think I'll focus on the reunion today while it's still pretty fresh in my mind.

(If you didn't go to Lamar, some of this is likely to sound like a socialist's column for some socialites you've never heard of. But don't worry, there's good old fashioned story telling in here ... plus a lot of names.)

Lamar High School ... class of 1987 ... Arlington, Texas ... 20 Year Reunion

We missed the Friday night mixer at J. Gilligan's because of the horrendous travel, and that was too bad as apparently Jill Stewart was there that night and not at the Saturday dealio. I was disappointed to miss her, especially since my buddy Andy (with whom I was staying) said Jill had asked Andy if he was the father of my children. Ummmm, WTF? Andy started laughing and told me that back in college, that had been what most people thought ... Andy would donate childrens for me. When I head that, we started concocting some long and fanciful story about how Andy was the father of my five children, yadda yadda yadda. How dare Jill set up a great story like that and then leave the whole thing unresolved!! hehehehe

I also missed Amy Alexander that night and was sad about that as well. She used to draw some amazing stuff and I was so curious to see if she still works her art ... so hoping that she has continued that. I did run into Russ who'd been our leading man for darn near every play we ever did in high school ... and he was one of the people I'd really been hoping to see. He was a genuinely nice guy in a rather clique-ish and fake school and I was beyond delighted to see that he's doing well and he's still doing theatre both professionally and doing plays around town. And his wife, Shannon, was just a delight to meet. Makes me wanna move back to Texas just to make better friends with them! :)

Out of 22 people I really wanted to see ... I saw two.

However, there were a fair number of people whom I'd thought would hardly remember me, with whom I had a delightful time. Paul Oehler, Veronica Ordonez, Ben Yin, Cheree Stringer, Sherry Price, Kyle Lawson.

But the most "fun" for me was the fact that my partner and I were the only gay couple there.

I laughed so hard (on the inside ... it's not nice to laugh at people's faces). There were a select group of women who had once been friends, who:
1) could NOT stop staring at us
2) refused to speak to me after the initial "Hi" and introduction of my partner.

It was fun to see how long they'd stare, and then I'd try to catch their eyes, and suddenly, oh, but they were looking anywhere but at me. I'm guessing they thought you could catch gayness by eye contact. There were two women literally sitting directly across from me, not really socializing much with anyone except each other. (And they were each married to a man or I might have had fun poking buttons and asking them if they were an item. Well, providing they let me get close enough to ask them a question.) And they stared at me for over 45 minutes. Enough so that the other people at our table were noticing it ... and were appalled by the bad behaviour. I simply laughed. Apparently they'd never really seen queers up close before. Let them get an education. Let them learn, I told the others at my table, that I'm just as boring now as I was back in the day. I wonder if they thought their "mean" stares would be intimidating enough to make me leave? LMFAO ... if so, they really forgot what I was like.

Cindy Ritner was a delight to meet again. Still the same happy and outgoing young woman that she was back in school. She was one of the few women that I knew, but had not really hung out with outside of our shared sports and classes, who really seemed genuinely happy to see me. I'm so glad to know that she's doing well and is happy. She deserves it. A genuinely nice person that I'd always hoped life had been kind to.

But the really interesting part happened when Cindy re-introduced me to someone I'd known from junior high on. I'll call her "Linda."
Linda was an unbelievably sweet person as a kid. Quiet around new people, a little reserved. I can remember us playing together a few times and getting a wee little bit rowdy and just having a grand old time. Imaginative, playful, and above all, Linda was very kind. Concerned about others.

I cannot reconcile the Linda of then ... with the Linda of today. She underwent a transformation, as many of us have, but hers seemed to have changed her completely, inside and out. No longer a sweet face. It's narrow and pinched now. No longer wavy/curly black hair. It's that hideous shade of bleach-blonde that screams, "HEY! I'm a bleach blonde!" The severity of her muscle definition was not athletic looking. It looked like you could cut yourself on them. They weren't big muscles. It's not like she looked "manly" or like she constantly lifted weights. But, oddly enough, it didn't really look healthy either. The total effect of all the physical changes were enough to make her look, honestly, like a bitch.

But, I refused to judge a book by its cover. Looks can be deceiving. So, I happily introduced myself ... and my partner. Linda's face was somewhat guarded when she took my hand, but she was pleasant enough. When I introduced my partner, her face went completely blank. No smile. She took the hand proffered (so there is some memory of the girl she once was ... she wasn't completely rude) ... but then, she turned so fast on her heel, I'm surprised there's not a divot in the floor from her heel drilling down. I was steadfastly ignored for the rest of the evening.

Except.

Except, for about 30 minutes, she also, sat across from the table where I was sitting and glared at me. Refusing to make eye contact, if I turned to her, her head turned away immediately. I think she wanted me to know that I was being snubbed. If she thought it would hurt me, she was wrong. If she thought it would miraculously cure me, she was even more wrong.

What did hurt was not that she judged me without getting to know me again ... but the fact that she used to be such a genuinely nice person. I hurt for what has happened to her in her life to facilitate such a complete and utter change. What pain she must have endured at some point ... or perhaps ongoing ... to turn from such a warm and friendly person into such a cold bitch. I don't call her that because of how she reacted to me ... or I'd be saying that of half the girls there. I say that because I watched again and again and again, how she'd do the "sorority girl" or the "high society" greeting. The smile, the nod, the pleasantry. And then she'd turn back to her drink or her companion and all expression would drop from her face.

A teacher in junior high once told us that you can tell a real smile from a fake one by how long it stays on your face and the process by which it comes off. A fake smile appears instantly ... and it falls from your face just as quickly.
A real smile might burst onto your face, but it doesn't come off easily. Instead, the muscles slowly relax and the smile slowly becomes smaller until you're left with a twinkle in your eye and a still expression to your lips. I never saw a smile slowly come off of Linda's face. It was either "on" or it was "off." And there was no twinkle in her eyes at all.
It makes me sad to see.

I did buy the crappy spreadsheet of names into which Reunions by the Party People really put very little effort. Ten bucks of little information. However, I did get the married names of some of the friends I wanted to meet up with again. Hopefully now I can catch up with at least some of the people on my list. Of course, I have to do my own Google work to get everything together ... but still ... it'll be worth the time and effort if I can manage to find them again.

I do hold Minnie Huang in my thoughts ... I heard she has cancer, but I have every confidence that she'll beat it.

And that was my 20 year reunion that I'd looked forward to since the last day of high school. I was soooo curious to see where everyone would land, what they'd be like. Most of the people I've seen prior to the reunion or saw that night, they seemed to be doing well. And for that, I'm genuinely glad.

Posted by Red Monkey at October 24, 2007 10:16 AM | Vacations and Photos | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

 

mikster said:

I'm really glad you didn't allow small minded people to interfere with a good time. It is funny what 20 years will do to some people.

October 24, 2007 11:44 AM

 

blueyes said:

I dunno if I even want to go to my 20 year reunion. The people I wanted to see at my 10 didnt show up and ther others seemed to think they were too good for words sorta.

It's a shame that people even at this age have nothing better to do than stare at others because they are different from them.

October 24, 2007 1:52 PM

Damn. Makes me want to start a professional gay reunion escort service just to share in the pissing off and upsetting of small-minded people. I'm petty like that, I suppose :)

Glad you had a good time in spite of the weirdos, and got to see some of the folks you'd really wanted to.

October 24, 2007 7:04 PM

 

Lori said:

You were brave to go to your reunion (gay or not). I couldn't stomach the thought of my tenth; we'll see if I feel any better about it when my 20th comes along next summer.

October 24, 2007 9:41 PM
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