It was early Thanksgiving week when I saw my old high school principal staring back at me from my Facebook inbox. He looked a lot like he did when I was in school and certainly better than he does now (being dead is hell on one’s complexion I’m told). Not one to keep Mr. Guzick waiting, I opened the message. Messages from high school alumni groups usually fall into a few set categories: they either want money, information or worst of all, your presence. Quite honestly, I’m more comfortable with just leaving the money on the nightstand for them. Usually, that will keep them quiet for a while until the next time the trees in the student center need to be replaced. Give them information and it becomes quite the slippery slope. It starts off simple, “We just need your email address. Just to keep you in the loop.” Then, they want to mail you something, usually an alumni phone book so you can drunk dial that girl from your freshman algebra class. Oh, but wait! They need your phone number for that book too. By that time, it’s too late: you are the frog in the pot, heedless of the rising temperature – “We’re having a little get together. We’d love to see you.”
No, you wouldn’t. Really.
Everyone I knew from high school that I wanted to keep in touch with, I did. And the people I didn’t stay in constant contact with since May of 1984, then I found them on Facebook, or MySpace or any other handy social networking sites that allows me to interact from a distance. No insincere smiles. No awkward silences. Just safe one-sided revelation, only letting them know what I wanted them to know – kind of like being the federal government. It rendering the need for a reunion redundant. And were I truly the simple man I’ve claimed to be for so many years, I would never darken the doorway of one or ever suffer the indignity of wearing a name tag again. Instead, I am simple AND petty (and a few other adjectives that probably wouldn’t reflect positively on me), so I go, sit near the bar and see how the years have taken their toll on my peers.
They say the camera adds ten pounds. High school reunions add about twenty-five pounds – or in my case, about seventy-five, but I digress.
So, Saturday night comes, it’s around seven o’clockish in the evening and Hector (my best friend of about 27 years) and I are sitting on a patio across the street from where the reunion’s going to happen. Over beers, we briefly wonder if there is really anyone there we want to talk to. We shrugged and then chatted for a bit. Once we were convinced that we were fashionably late, we wandered across the street to the restaurant and upstairs where the gathering was. I immediately gravitated towards the bar, quite certain I would handle things much better safely ensconced behind a very dry Bombay Sapphire martini.