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How Great to See You! You Look Marvelous!

by Rose Madeline Mula

I'm depressed.

I just got back from the first high school reunion I ever attended. I refuse to say which one. Not which high school-which year. I don't want anyone to know. I won't even admit it to myself.

What I will tell you is that none of my classmates showed up. They sent their grandparents instead, all of who insisted they had gone to school with me. No way. I could not relate to those people. They were white-haired or bald, fat or frail, stooped and lame None of them bore the slightest resemblance to the yearbook pictures reproduced on their nametags. (Whose fiendish idea was that?!) That's what clinched it—proved they were frauds. I, on the other hand, look exactly the same as I did back then. Well, almost, except for a few interesting character lines which only enhance my youthful charm.

In fact, all the elderly people I talked with gasped when I told them my name. They all reacted the same way, their gazes shifting in disbelief from my face to my yearbook picture on my nametag. Obviously, they were astonished at how little I've changed. Nothing else could explain their incredulity. Of course, I tried to be kind and commented on how well the years had treated them. I didn't consider such flattery to be lies but, rather, acts of mercy. Poor things. God knows they can't often hear that. To be truthful, I don't hear it much myself. I'm sure people compliment me all the time (after all, how could they not?), but they mumble so badly that they're hard to understand.

My girl friend Jeannie was at the reunion. (Yes—I said "girl" friend; there's no need to snicker. Don't think I didn't hear you doing that before, though I can't imagine why.) Jeannie couldn't wait to see Frank, the handsome hunk we had all swooned over in high school. (Yes, in those days we swooned—do I hear you snickering again? That's very rude.) I had bumped into him earlier. I pointed him out to her. "That's Frank, over there; the one with the walker." Jeannie gasped. "He's old!" Well, duh! What did she expect? Frank is wrinkled, his once lean body has turned into cookie dough, and his teeth click when he talks. But at least he doesn't have white hair. He doesn't have any hair.

When Jeannie recovered from her initial shock, she gamely approached him to reintroduce herself. "Frank! You're as handsome as ever!" she gushed. (Yeah, we used to gush, as well as swoon.) "Why, thank you!" beamed Frank, the old twinkle returning to his eyes for a moment. "I'd like you to meet my granddaughter," he said, calling a lovely lass to his side. Jeannie turned to her, "Your grandfather used to be so cute!" she gushed again. Frank stopped beaming. "Used to be?" he croaked. "Whatever happened to 'as handsome as ever'?"

"Excuse me," said Jeannie, trying to extract her foot from her mouth, "I just spotted Andy Harrington over there. I went to the junior prom with him! I'm going over to say hello." I didn't have the heart to tell her that Andy was the feeble geezer clutching the bar to keep from falling. The guy she was rushing toward was a teen-aged bus boy.

As I was trying to restore Frank's wounded pride, another of the elderly party crashers approached me, squinting at my nametag. "I remember you," he said, "you were in my typing class." "No," I said, "I never took typing in high school." "Yeah, you did," he insisted, miffed. And he shuffled away to squint at another woman's nametag. Maybe it was just a clever ploy to stare at bosoms. On second thought, there wasn't a bosom in the room worth staring at, other than mine; but I'm much too modest to mention that.

Just then, the pianist whom the reunion committee had hired started tickling the ivories—As Time Goes By, Those Were the Days, Silver Threads Among the GoldHe had an endless repertoire of melancholy melodies. I had a sudden yearning for heavy metal, even though I hate it. As he played, a few couples teetered across the floor, holding each other up, apparently trying to pretend they were back in the old crepe-paper-decorated gymnasium.

After an hour or so of this charade, the MC mercifully asked everyone to please be seated. Dinner was about to be served. I prayed that the meal wouldn't consist of soup, pureed veggies, and Jello. On the other hand, if it was solid food, I worried about how most of the group would deal with it. It would not be pretty. I hoped a contingent of EMTs was standing by.

I vowed never to attend another reunion.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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