18 again, but without george burns

a (thankfully short) list of silly things i said to people at my high-school reunion:

1.  “hey, do you remember when the christian club had a pray-around-the-flagpole day at school and you staged a one-woman protest?  i was in the club myself at the time and even i thought that was really brave of you.”

(not brave in a “how dare you try to keep out the christians” way, but brave in a “taking a one-person stand against anything in high school is brave” way.  you know.  anyway i haven’t really been a christian since i was 17.)

2.  “your mom was a really good girl scout troop leader.  i remember she used to brush her teeth with baking soda.”

“yeah, she still does that.”

(i also remember the troop leader’s daughter in her role as model for a “here’s how to layer your clothes so you don’t get cold on a camping trip” demonstration.  i can still see her standing in the middle of a circle of girl scouts with her mom saying, “here’s c___’s t-shirt, and now she’s putting a turtleneck over it.”  ta-da!  layering.   her mom is the reason i know that you should put the next day’s clothes in the sleeping bag with you so they’re all toasty warm when you get up the next morning.)

3.  “i most definitely remember your in-class essays, mrs. f______.”

(they were torture, but she was one of the best teachers i’ve ever had.  i made terrible grades on those essays until mrs. f______ pulled me out into the hallway and told me that, since i only had an hour for each one, i should write down everything i wanted to say about the topic as quickly as possible without trying to make every single sentence perfect.  she was totally right.)

4.  “you and l____ used to sit on either side of me in the fourth grade, and you guys would unbend paper clips and poke me in the arms with them.”

“oh, i’m so sorry.”

“hey, don’t worry about it.  if i was bitter i wouldn’t be here, and i probably wouldn’t have come over to say hi, either.  i think it’s funny now.”

(it’s only a little bit funny now.  he seemed genuinely sorry, though, so i kind of feel bad for bringing it up.  the thing i am still bitter about is that i talked to the teacher about it and she wouldn’t let me change seats.  her “suck it up” philosophy did nothing for the marks on my arms.)

5.  “when i see your house now i always think about when i would sleep over in the fifth grade and you made me read my nancy drew novels aloud to you.”

(it embarrassed me to read out loud the parts where nancy and her boyfriend would kiss, so i’d skip over them.  “did you skip something?” s____ would ask.  “no,” i’d say, and keep on reading.

s____ was popular and i wasn’t, so we were mostly just friends in the summertime.  we spent one afternoon picking out the clothes she thought were going to be cool in junior high.)

6.  “you lived in [UT dorm] freshman year, didn’t you?”

“i did.”

“yeah, i remember seeing you in the cafeteria.”

(i didn’t tell him about the schadenfreudean pleasure i derived from seeing him eat lunch by himself in that cafeteria.  in high school he was surrounded by cheerleaders.)

initially i’d been surprised at the large number of people there who still lived in houston, but then i realized that those were the people for whom attending the reunion was the most convenient.  i was also surprised at how almost everyone was married, but people who are married and (ostensibly) happy are more likely to attend, too.  so everyone looked pretty good and had decent jobs and/or wives and kids and such.  which of course made me wonder about the people who weren’t there.  do they just live too far away or did they hate high school like i did or are they prison wardens or janitors or on welfare or something?

from what i heard, only two people from my class are dead.

after the reunion jessica and i met the solo protestor and her husband at the harp.  we didn’t tell anyone else where we were going, but half the reunion showed up at the harp, too.  while we were all there someone on the nearby street crashed his motorcycle into the curb and landed on his back on the median.  several of my fellow high-school alums rushed over to help him.  l___ gave her cell phone to jess so she could call 911.  s____ held the injured guy’s hand until the ambulance arrived.

i’d like to say that at that point all the lines of high-school popularity were blurred and everyone banded together.  but really i think that some people are just good in a crisis.