Tuesday, August 25, 2009

High School Reunion, Part II

This is part two of a four-part feature about Ben's trip back for his high school reunion, here's part one if you missed it.

Saturday (8/1) :

The second reunion event was a picnic at Brashear Park, only it was rainy so it got moved to the HS cafeteria. My food for the picnic: pudding snacks. Mmm.

There was a different crowd at the picnic than the previous night. Families came out, and they brought their children with them. There were even games for the kids to keep them busy. At one point all the kids gathered together for a picture—I knew several of my classmates had children, but seeing a big bunch of them together was shocking nonetheless. There were big and small, ranging in age from zero to about ten. These kids will probably graduate high school sometime between 2017 and 2027. I wonder when my kids will graduate...

We took advantage of being in the high school by having a little tour; there's been some remodeling. You've still got the endless orange lockers, but the trim is different in some places, the science rooms are torn to shreds, the hall by the locker rooms looks newer, and the library expanded like an amoeba to consume the once-proud computer lab where my Computer Club friends and I played countless hours of Descent (a first-person shooter spaceship game). I felt a little nostalgic seeing my old lockers and classrooms, and the halls I'd walked in as a wee freshman when I was socially awkward and didn't know how to woo women. Wait, I still don’t know how? Crap.

Quick tangent: The girls that organized the reunion are awesome—they did it with no reward and no complaint. Most people would never take the time, but they gave countless hours unselfishly putting it all together. Lindsey Fraser, Tara Duck-Hoffman, and Jennifer Moore deserve some serious credit. Sorry if I forgot anyone. Thanks to them everything went smoothly.

After the tour dissipated I sneaked off and took a look at the copy machine in the teachers lounge that I had once broken making flyers for the “Ed for President” campaign. I just wish Mrs Nothdurf had been there to revoke my voting privileges a second time. Good memories all around, though possibly unconstitutional.

Caroline went with me to both reunion events on Saturday, and for the most part we didn’t confirm or deny any relationship between us. I introduced her as my friend and let people draw their own conclusions. At least one person asked her, when I had stepped away, if she was my wife or girlfriend. Others didn't ask but you know they were thinking it.

After the reunion picnic and tour, Caroline and I went home and made sweet, sweet sandwiches at the top of the hill. Actually we made them in the kitchen. Annie was in charge of tomatoes and photo-documentation. You may recall my blog about sandwiches—these sandwiches followed the same basic formula, but with the addition of thicker, redder onions and plenty of avocado, as well as a huge fresh tomato from the garden.

The reunion finale was held Saturday evening in Too Tall's Two eatery and spirits. A storied venue, Too Tall’s was a bar and local hangout for years until the owner and then mayor of Kirkville set it ablaze in an attempt to collect insurance money. I didn't know this until I was in the building and David Morley told me the story. It was later reinvented as an event hall with bar-like qualities.

Saturday night had the best turnout, plus dinner was catered. I got to talk to several more classmates I hadn’t seen yet, and a couple former teachers. Chatting with Mrs Coy brought back memories of the time I gave a speech about WWII using Warcraft 2 terminology. I don't know if she had any idea what I was talking about but I still got an A.

Sometimes I play scrabble and Saturday night was no exception as Annie, Caroline, and I faced off in a not-really-that-epic battle. Annie seized control, perhaps due to her literary prowess, and she would have won had I not in dramatic fashion gotten a bingo to take the lead for good. I love bingos, but I don't love bingo.


The reunion was over, and it was time to go home. Ed Kohler picked me up around 11am to give me a ride to the St Louis airport, even though it was about two hours out of his way. I was really tired and slept almost the whole way there, waking up just long enough to eat a rather tasty sandwich from Jimmy Johns, and for Ed to play me some songs by Richard Cheese. Richard Cheese, whom Ed described as “the greatest thing to ever happen in music” (or something like that) is a comedian who performs covers of heavy metal, rap, rock, and pop songs in a lounge style reminiscent of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Some of them are hilarious, such as his version of Welcome to the Jungle by Guns 'N' Roses.

So Ed dropped me off at the airport and headed back to Columbia where he lives. The good news was I had plenty of time before my 5:50 flight to Phoenix. The bad news came a short time later when the lady at the gate said, "It's lookin' really bad." Despite her sour prediction, I waited for the flight anyway just to see if I'd get lucky. Alas there were no open seats, not to mention several other people who were standing-by and didn't get on either. Gold is scarce in St Louis and I got none.

Once the plane was gone, I did a little research at customer service and got the skinny on upcoming flights to Phoenix (there are three daily) and even got a fancy 800 number to call for up-to-date flight info or to switch my listing. That number is the best-kept secret in stand-by travel.

Stuck in St. Louis I did what any sane person would do-I called Erik Olsen, a good friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen in about six years and who hadn't made it up to the reunion. He picked me up with roughly no notice, and we chilled at his new apartment where he's living with Sachin Bansal, another high school friend I hadn't seen in forever. Basically I had another mini high school reunion in St Louis. Erik and I shared music and life stories until Sachin got home from the hospital a couple hours later. Sachin recently started a new residency at WashU after spending three years in general surgery and then having a change of heart. I wouldn't want to be a general surgeon either, the hours are miserable.

Erik and Sachin had just moved in and the living room was still crowded with boxes. I made it a little more crowded with my luggage, and a few hours later I was passed out on a couch, somewhere in St Louis.

Find out what happens next in part three of the extended reunion tour.


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  2. I found your site on Facebook, and I have to say I have highly enjoyed reading your blog. I look forward to many more...

  3. I clicked on your sandwiches link, and that was my first exposure to Flight of the Concordes. HI-larious!