Making the Grade
by Martha Powers
When the invitation came for my fiftieth grade school reunion, I was stunned. How had that amount of time gone by without my noticing it? Yesterday I was wearing a poodle skirt and saddle shoes. Now it’s golf shorts and elastic stockings. Then I had tight skin, slim ankles and permed hair. Now I have the skin of a Shar-pei, cellulite and gray hair. Well, maybe not gray hair, at least as long as my hair stylist is alive and functional. One must have certain standards.
Bill didn’t want to go to the reunion. He’s not big on the past. He says once something is over it should be forgotten. I really think that’s because he has an atrocious memory. The only reason he calls me sweetheart is that right after the marriage ceremony he forgot my name and has been too embarrassed to ask me.
Originally I couldn’t think of anything more boring than reliving my life from age 6 to 14. In grade school everyone was undeveloped, except maybe Louann Crebs, who I suspect was born wearing a training bra. The boys mostly played baseball or fought with each other. The girls played hopscotch and talked about the boys. By the time they were in high school, my classmates were showing some signs of promise, or at least had a two-year arrest record. In grade school nobody looked like they were going to become anything but a drug on the market.
So, out of curiosity, we went to the reunion.
Without nametags, it was difficult recognizing anyone. However once they mentioned their names, you could see a glimmer of the child they had once been. Thanks to a long cocktail hour, we managed to catch up on everyone’s news, share pictures of children and grandchildren and shake our heads in dismay at those who had died.
It was interesting trying to match each classmate with his or her main ability in grade school. There was Harold. He sat behind me and could shoot a spit ball farther than anyone in the room. He became a carpenter, no doubt because he could hold nails in his mouth and spit them out when needed. I never could do that. I always gouged the inside of my cheek and worried how silly I’d feel telling the x-ray technician in the emergency room that I’d swallowed a nail.
Grace couldn’t walk to the front of the classroom without tripping over her own feet. She started a charm school and married an orthopedic surgeon. During the reunion she fell over the podium, breaking her leg; her husband set it between dances.
Huey wore argyle socks and brown oxfords to graduation in an age that barely knew there was anything besides white sweat socks and sneakers. He’s a golf pro now and I can picture him striding manfully across the green in knickers and argyles.
After school and during recess, Katrina spent all her time jumping rope. My remembrance of her is rather blurred, as I never saw her in a stationary position. She became an artist. She paints pictures that have a sort of wobbly look, which is probably how she saw the world.
Michael was always hiding in the bushes waiting to scare the girls. He is now a photographer. He patiently gathered us into an orderly arrangement so he could take the class picture. As he peered over the top of the camera, I could see the same maniacal gleam in his eyes as I had in grade school. He didn’t say “Boo,” just “Smile.”
Fritz had the face of a choir boy. He sat next to me in eighth grade and cheated on most of the math and geography tests by peeking at my answers. He failed math because I was more mathematically challenged than he was. We shared the first prize in geography and because he was a boy, he got to give the speech. He’s a politician now. No wonder the country is on a downhill slide.
At the reunion my Bill spent a lot of time with Louann Crebs, who had a dress on that would have made Dolly Parton weep in envy. They found they had a lot in common. Bill liked her body almost as much as she did. After weaning him away from her, I introduced him to Carol, who had become a nun. Carol and I have a lot in common. We both think Louann is a pain.
All in all the reunion was a success. We all plan to meet again in five years. Hopefully, by then everything on Louann from her chin down will have sagged into disarray. Just in case that doesn’t happen, I plan to leave Bill at home.
Martha Powers is a former humor columnist who left behind the winters of Chicago for the sun and sand of Vero Beach, Florida. She is the author of eleven published novels. Martha writes fiction thrillers but finds that killing off the bad guys isn't as much fun as writing for laughs. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org