The Reunion has come and gone. There was good time had by some, just shy of two thousand. Some of the guests were sad, some were annoying, and some were just plain annoyed. I was annoyed by … the long queues for drinks (twice – one for the tickets and then for the drinks) and the fact that everyone else looked better than they should – after so many doggone years. By the end of the evening I heard some Masseyites whispering “Veni, Vidi, volo in domum redire – I came, I saw, I want to go home.”
I will not slag off any of the bravehearts who took the time to show up. I will instead thank them for being ornery, then as now. May they live long and be blessed. The ones that did show up did so with panache. The ones that did not show up probably had an inkling and no panache left in their wardrobe (or garderobe as I am wont to say). They all looked good considering that some of them were approaching the one century mark. Just kidding. Or maybe not.
I wish to thank a of couple of teachers who allowed me to show them that I still have big elbows. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
There were a few former students who grumbled that some of the teachers had a far away look in their eyes. This dazed look did not disappear when these same students took the teacher’s hand in greeting and then only to be asked “Who are you?”. Nothing new in that then. To be fair, it was only the teachers who deflated your ego – then as now. The vast majority of classmates did not know who you were but they were more canny. The give-away was the subtle oh-I-need-my-specs while taking an unobtrusive gander at the ID card hanging around your neck.
That frozen-deer-in-the-headlights trance was not the teachers freezing in front of an incoming car but rather the winkled memories – oh what little shits we were, they were thinking. Some of us. Not me though. I mean I was not little.
I say bully to the teachers who stubbornly refused to remember us. Bully for them. Other teachers, the ones that did remember us, were unimprßessed with our intellectual prowess, our maturity, in their own chosen field. So, any attempt at showing off your linguistic skills in French, or diva-like dips into mathematical esoterica came out as the ravings of an attention-starved poodle.
The teachers that come across as lucid were impressed and – gulp – impressive. Some of them had the nous to make like they remembered us with fondness. One teacher remarked that there is something very spooky when a student or other looks as young at the Reunion as the day s/he left school. Ah, it was good to hear a faculty member quipping as though he was in full control of all his faculties.
An intrepid teacher made a admission that it was easier not to eat and talk at the same time. This kind of frankness is heart warming if perhaps a tad too self-revealing. It even happened that some teachers did get hugged (mostly or almost exclusively by the female student body). I personally remember tapping one teacher on the shoulder as a parry for any eventual hug he thought he might proffer on me. It should be said that all the teachers put on a good show but it should also be said that some of them had no sartorial sense. Heh, but what the heh, their faux pas reverberated in the large hall. Let them be cursed in hell. I did not nor do I believe that any other former student wanted to duke it out after so many years of bitterness for a bad mark or an unkind word from what, after all, were flawed and frail human beings, now as then.
The dancing was fab. We grooved to the music. Three bands though I have to say that the music of the 80’s was total shite. Not the band, just the music. And speaking of music and dance … I am of the opinion that rock and roll is solely responsible for the demise of ball-room dancing – actually all forms of civilized behaviour on the dance floor. Our teachers did us a disservice by not forcefully telling us what plonkers we looked twitching away to the tune of the Dave Clark FIVE. They should have hog tied us down to twenty continuous hours of films like What Now Pussycat? to show us what the twist will do to our hips and our self-esteem especially forty years into the future. Peter O’toole was crap on the dance floor. I was crap on the dance floor – forty years ago – and the Reunion only proved this. Happily, I was not alone in flaunting my fanny, shamelessly. The bands though, were good. The first band had not played as a band before, that I know, but they were gallant, valiant. I was mindful that Patti needed a bit of bucking up as she was recovering from some lung thing so I went and offered to French kiss her. She demurred though I darn well wish that she had not mentioned it on the tannoys.
Looking good Mathilda
I do not remember anyone named Mathilda – this name is used to protect the guilty. Mathilda is guilty of looking – too good for her age. She looked good forty years ago and still looked, er, ah, yummy – forty years on. (I am writing this from a male perspective though I did notice some of the women ogling their male classmates – forty years on – who would have thunk it!) This is the overwhelming impression when the Masseyites convoked with avid enthusiasm.
My classmates who did show up were few in number – for our year – but there was one overwhelming characteristic – they were all darn fit. I think this cannot be misconstrued as a conceit because the fact is that we were all keeping to the shadows lest our wrinkles cause disillusionment or even distress. However, I have cat-like vision in the dark and regardless of the pleated faces (read: wrinkled), the greyed or missing hair, the sagging bosoms (on men as well as women), every one seemed to come out as fleshy Fred Astaires or Ginger Rogers. Forty years later – primo!
OK, some shone better than others, especially in strong light. We all, it seems, made sure we carried out a regime of dieting, purging and the wise use of tight undergarments to make a good impression. It was only in the hugging – and there was a lot of that – and arms-on-shoulder moments that it was noticed we all to a man – yes almost all of us – were carrying an extra stone or three. At least that is what my furtive groping indicated. One observation which should be made – here I am surely placing my heart on my sleeve – is that no one showed up with “Aye luv me mum” or “I eat squirrel for breakfast” tattooed on his neck – bless us J, M and J.
I too went to a lot of trouble to look good. “Trim” was my objective because I cannot do anything about my face. I spent one month cycling from Houston to Fergus, Ontario. I lost one stone. Did anyone notice? No, that is why I had to mention it here.
Was this a fête too far?
I say no. True, the food was so-and-so but that is small potatoes. Who could eat anyway? The most significant reason that this fête was a success was the simple reason that we re-discovered that were still friends. Most of us. We also discovered what the adage “water under the bridge” means.
I myself was intent on being puckish thinking that there were people who needed a good verbal shellacking. As it turned out, I was disarmed when one of these blokes came up to me, stretched out his hand, and introduced himself, and his dog. I had never met his dog and would not have picked him out of a crowd of store front mannequins (my classmate, not the dog). He was skint (the classmate not the dog) on the skull whereas in his youth he was NOT hirsute-challenged. OK, a good (or not so good) Christian should forgive. Fair enough, I thought, but how could I forgive someone who had defused me even before the blimey fête started. For everything, turn, turn, turn.
Meeting up with classmates and schoolmates before the long march into eternity is very cathartic. I learned something about myself. I am thankful that I came to find friends that I did not know I had. I saw them looking at me through their eyes – forty years in our common era. In turn, I was their mirror. I learned that friendship does not fade. It may be undiscovered, even hidden, but it is clearly subject to the First Law of Thermodynamics.
True friends remember the good and the bad. The good they remember with joy and the bad they dignify with silence.
The most logical thing to do is for the graduating classes to arrange their own mini-fest in places and times of their choosing. This venue was large and the number of people was monstrous. The fact is that a more intimate gathering would be a great epilogue to this Reunion. If there is anyone out there who is keen on making the next one happen – on a smaller scale – then contact me at address below.
Please do not write to me to ask for the photos I took. They are cr*p given the lighting and my lack of expertise. If there is anyone who took photos and would like to place them in this blog, then contact me.