A-Ha’s “Take on Me”, permeates the air, hovering just over the voices of the cackling and gaggling that we’ve been doing for most of the night. Obviously, the DJ has decided that since we are old and grew up in the 80s that we are unfamiliar with contemporary music. The drinks and food flow freely. Rachel and I are of the mindset that we are just not in the mood for food. We don’t know why. Food and talk don’t mix well. They use the same orifice at the same time. One action for emitting and one for ingesting. Things can’t go in and out at the same time. Just a matter of physics.
I mosey around the groups finding a place to plant myself. I sidle up to Rosie F. a diminutive red-head with a sweet smile. She was a brain back in school with the rest of us brains, but somehow didn’t run with the math brains. She was a more literary brain. She seemed to be one who was taken advantage of by the less-brainy. If we were in a John Hughes 80’s high-school film (which we essentially were), she would be the kid who did the homework for the rest of the kids. She had that talent. Comparatively, my talent that others utilized was not so much offering homework to copy from, but rather forging parent and teacher signatures. There was one point where Curt N. (who surprisingly wasn’t present this weekend) had me write an entire letter from the Physics teacher, to his parents. The ruse was a success, but I had to draw the line. I didn’t have time to painstakingly rewrite letters in other people’s handwriting to save someone’s ass from detention. I had work to do – like sneaking off campus with Seniors to go eat pizza, answering questions on Chuck Woolerey’s Scrabble during lunch when we didn’t sneak off campus, and refining my ping pong game.
Anyway, Rosie and I were in Anstett’s class together – the same class where Josh P. nearly lost his soccer career with a bat to the knee. Anstett gave out a bonus assignment. The task? Interpret Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. The prize? You get an A in the class.Well, fuck me running, I thought. I’ll get this out of the way, and that’s one less class to worry about. I read it, do my research, and come back to class all prepped and ready to go. Rosie was also ready. Between the two of us, we nailed the interpretation. Anstett agreed…we did a great job. Fantastic! For the rest of the semester I don’t do squat for the class. Sure, I show up, but what the Hell? I have an A. End of semester. Anstett gives me a B-. What?!I don’t think so. I swing by after school, and have a little heart to heart. Anstett reasons, “Just because you did that one assignment correctly doesn’t meant you didn’t have to do any work for the rest of the semester.” “Ummmm…well”, I reasoned back, “That wasn’t stipulated in the original deal. You said ‘If you do this, you get an A in the class’. End of story. No addendum. Period.” I received an A-.
Back to the present… Rosie sports a white dress with black polka dots which exaggerates her red hair. We share a warm hug and start catching up. Sara W walks up and I snap another photo. She immediately accuses me of taking pictures of her boobs – which happens to be where her name tag is placed – not in the normal place on the dress, but sitting just under the collarbones on the apex of her cleavage like a billboard. If she’s going to place that much emphasis and have them holding her name, then obviously the next step is to specifically take a picture of her breasts – or at least the cleavage created by them. I explain my rationale to Rosie, who finds no flaw in my logic. I’m glad that Rosie has a sense of humor.
I feel something in my hair. Kathy G. brushes my hair back with a “I’m sorry, I just dropped a straw in your hair.” “Oh Kathy, I’ve waited 20 years for you to drop a straw in my hair.” “Pfft,” she giggles, “will you stop?” followed up by Diane D. (I think) “See, I told you!” Frankly, I don’t even know what that all means. I don’t even know what I said means – or even implies. As if the Straw-Drop indicates a sign of a courtship process that I was unaware of in high school, or even now. I consider using the Straw Drop line on future women. Evidently, it has weight.
I check out the remaining classmates. We are thinning out. Rachel cut out already, having had enough excitement for one weekend, but iterated that she had a surprisingly good time despite not remembering anyone. We make plans to get together for dinner back in L.A. and I bid her adieu.
I turn to chat with Chuck H. who is the guy my friend impersonated 10 years earlier. He’s with his soon-to-be-wife Heather. Chuck is an amazing guy who exudes positive energy. I couldn’t ask for a more devoted cheerleader. No matter where I was, or when I was, Chuck would pump me up to whoever was in the conversation. We were at a party at Josh P’s house. I was fuckin’ around with Josh’s guitar and playing a bit of Zeppelin’s Black Dog. Chuck comes bursting into the room, beer in hand. “Oh, fuck man, I thought we were playing some Zeppelin Four. I mean the album. Shit, that’s sounded awesome.” I couldn’t ask for a better compliment. Tonight, Chuck was talkin’ me up to Heather. “This guy…he heard me say I liked the Charlie Brown theme…you know the Charlie Brown theme?” “Yeah, I know it.” she says. Chuck starts da-da-ing the theme, pantomiming the piano motions. “Yeah, Charlie, I know it.” she says. Chuck continues doing it. “Next party we’re at..he knows the goddamn song.” Chuck does the air-piano more, for emphasis. I love this guy. His energy is contagious.
During my conversation, I spy Lori E. Really, I had seen her earlier, but hadn’t had a chance to greet her. She walks by, and I perform a signature move which is to not acknowledge her as she walks by, continue the current conversation, but reach out once she’s passed, take her hand, and pull her back into the circle for a hug. Four out of five dentists support this maneuver.
Lori is warm, kind-hearted, and if I were to be asked who embodies all the components of a “friend”, it would be Lori. And I know, I’m not alone in my sentiments. She, too, has been close since Freshman year, as she was Amy H’s locker mate, and hence, also my neighbor. But I really didn’t get to know her until Junior year – when I really started hanging out with my fellow classmates. Every party with Lori was a delight. Every adventure, a joy. And tonight would be no different…however; it would have to continue into the night as our party became infested with young people. Masa was having Salsa night downstairs, and the Tacoma-ites were beginning to bleed up the stairs. The “Bellarmine Reunion” sign at the landing probably translated to something like “Free drinks upstairs. Come one, come all.” I notice classmates grumbling. A sure sign that its time to change venues. I take the lead and tell everyone to evacuate this den of youth, and bounce next door to Engine No. 9 – a beer hall filled with beer and more youth – but a least it would be subdued enough to chat with one another.
People try to get last minute photos or each other. Some folks are dancing. Lisette turns to see someone really getting into the music.“Wow, who is that?She’s really getting into it.”I look, “THAT is Rosie Foster, and yes, she definitely seems like she loves to dance.”Beside Rosie, Tori and her man grind away on the dance floor like they’re seventeen without a chaperon. Who can blame them? Young love isn’t just for the young.
I give Lisette a So-Nice-To-See-You-Hope-To-See-You-Again-Soon hug. Tricia gives me a goodbye kiss. I notice she looks over my shoulder and rolls her eyes. I turn to see Lisette’s husband and Tricia’s husband taking photos. Of each other. In poses that could be considered fashion shots, but since they are not fashion models it comes across as a bit…well….unmasculine, lets say. I turn back to Tricia biting the side of my mouth to avoid laughing and I raise a questioning eyebrow. “Do we need to have a talk?” I say to her as she points out the event to Lisette, who rolls her eyes like Tricia…only moreso. Unbeknownst, you any of us, the ruse of the fashion show photoshoot was to get photos of Tori’s firefighting chest. Boys will be boys — even when they are men. I can’t fault them. I have my own photos.
A new person steps into our circle. A lovely blonde woman with a slight tan and a body that indicates that she was an athlete in the not-so-distant past. “YOU!” I point at her. “Are not part of our group. Identify yourself.” She identifies herself as Darcy H, wife of Matt H. “I see, Darcy. So you have already been let into the circle.” She laughs. I can see we’ll get along.
Lisette and Tricia walk by toward the door. “Where are our men?” Tricia exasperates. “They are probably looking for better light.” I answer. She laughs. I already know that we get along.
We plow our way through the youth on our way out, taking in some of the Salsa dancing as we go. A line streams out the door, waiting to get in, presumably because they saw the Bellarmine Reunion sign.
The Engine House is mere steps away. Steps away to a nice beer and quiet conversation.