Facing Off With My Peers--20 Years Later, Part Deux
So: the reunion. I suppose I held up rather well. I was a bit chunkier than some, had a little more hair than others. Where I stood out the most was, perhaps not surprisingly, for my job. I got a paper award for "Most Unusual Job." Ha! But really, when most of my peers become doctors, businesspeople, lawyers, or go into the trades, where does NASA fit on that dart board? It doesn't.
A lot of the things I worried about in the previous post just didn't happen. Why? Because most of the people who pestered me at that age didn't show up to the reunion. Huzzah! I thrive best in a predator-free environment.
One guy I did want to see was X (no, I'm not giving names, if I can help it). He was an on-again, off-again tormentor from way back. The surprised look on his face--from seeing me and from hearing what I was doing for a living--was worth it. We didn't really speak after that, but he did at least make a point of acknowledging me on the way out the door.
That didn't mean there wasn't any unpleasantness. One cheerleader out in the smokers' area singled me out for hostility because a) she was tanked and b) I appeared to be in much too good of a mood to suit her. She decided to come out with a straightforward slam, the kind I haven't heard, literally, in 20 years, basically the sort questioning my manhood. It was so blatantly false and stupid, I laughed at her. She continued her snappishness. "I like smart guys like you. Let's go right now." Then she took me by the arm to lead me toward the bar. I detached her claw from my elbow, said (in a voice offering advice, not singing a song), "Be happy," and then lost myself in the crowd. Someone out on the smokers' area upgraded to something stronger later; I can't help but wonder...
All but one person in the room I'd pretty much not seen or talked to in 20 years, so it was mostly a game of catch-up: finding out who'd gotten married, who had kids, and what sorts of jobs they were doing. Some of the jobs my peers have are truly inspiring, and I was quite surprised to see how many doctors there were among us: human, veterinary, or otherwise. And there were some ladies and gents who must have a painting in their closets that looks like the very Divil because they had not changed one d@mn bit, some of these ladies looked quite fit after several children. All I can say is, they've been blessed.
A couple of the ladies there, who had teased me quite a bit back in the day (mostly because I was gullible and ignorant), were quite pleased to see me. "You always were nice," one of them said, which I appreciated. Everyone, in fact, seemed quite happy to see me and what I'd done with myself and my career. One of the jocks had become an IT manager of sorts and had married one of our classmates. They were both nice people, so I was pleased to see them. And it was good to see some of the solidly good people, the ones who had made GEHS much less of a hell. There were folks I would have liked to see--my two "protectors" didn't show--but there were also people whom, as I stated, I was quited relieved were not.
Someone pointed out to me that because reunions are optional, the only ones who really want to be there, will be, so they're more likely to be pleasant. Of course there are always one or two...
A couple of folks were trying to push me to show up for the 25th reunion. I'm thinking there's no need to get carried away.