This is for my ‘girls.’ You know who you are.
The clouds are gathering on the horizon, a telling foreshadowing. If you still yourself, you can hear the distant drums beating out a menacing boom boom boom boom.
The natives are restless.
It’s coming for us, to envelope our souls and leave us skin and bone.
The disturbing factor in all of this horror on the horizon…we signed up for it. Knowingly; we volunteered to take part in this rite of passage.
The days grow shorter and the time is upon us.
There is no escape.
It’s time…The twenty year high school reunion. MY 20 year High School Reunion to be exact!
And I admit; I willingly paid money to attend this event. I purchased a plane ticket. I have almost figured out what I’m going to wear. I am contemplating Spanx. I have an appointment for my eyebrows to be waxed, my nails to be polished, my hair to be done, and have even started lathering extra moisturizer at night before I go to bed as well as begun a teeth whitening regime.
Why go to all this trouble?
Well, so I can stand in my high school gym, pay $5 for a glass of Sutter Home while a live band plays music from the year we graduated all the while I scream at the person trying to scream at me over the music as I desperately try to recall if I really remember the sprightly girl determined to make me remember that she sat next to me in homeroom senior year.
But it’s a rite of passage, isn’t it? Just when we thought there weren’t too many more out there at the age of 38, there are still a few. And this one seems to be a dozy. Maybe it’s because we think we have shed the lessons and drama of our youth, have built lives for ourselves; someone years ago must have looked on this slight happiness with life and decided, no, no, we can’t have this. Let’s bring back some angst from developmental years and shake things up a bit.
And I’m shaken up. Here I am, suddenly, talking stock of my life. “Everybody’s coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone.” –Debi from Grosse Pointe Blank.
Oh, and while I’m taking stock, I find myself drawn to reunion movies lately; quoting them at odd times. For example, I want to ask everyone if they attended their 20 year high school reunions, only so that the timeless quote, “Yes. I did. It was just as if everyone had swelled.” Will come rushing out. That little quip by Joan Cusack, from the movie Grosse Point Blank has been playing around in my head. Along with others.
Doesn’t it seem so apropos, that the man who got us through High School heartaches, (or perhaps the man who ruined all men for us in High School) John Cusack, aka: Lloyd Dobler; had some foresight to help guide us through High School reunions as well. Though, I don’t foresee any intense knife fights that end in putting a dead body in a furnace at my reunion. Then again, who knows what kind of liveliness I’m in for? “They all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they’ve all made themselves a part of something and they can talk about what they do. What am I gonna say? “I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How’ve you been?” –Grosse Pointe Blank
I’m one of those people now, the ones who can talk about a husband and kid. No dog and no house yet, so maybe the goal will be to play up those things. I rent, I don’t have any pets…it’s an idea.
I could go on about the general apprehension I’ve begun to feel, but that’s no fun and it’s so generic. What am I doing with my life? What have I really accomplished in 20 years? Will my old High School boyfriend be there and can he please look bad. And also, how much black can I possibly wear so that no one will notice exactly how much I have swelled!
But that’s not fun.
However, this is. Here are some of the reunion movies I’ve been watching. I started with High School reunions, and it got a little off track, but I maintain that I continued to watch movies about high school.
[practicing in a mirror before his high school reunion]
Marty: Hi. I’m, uh, I’m a pet psychiatrist. I sell couch insurance. Mm-hmm, and I – and I test-market positive thinking. I lead a weekend men’s group, we specialize in ritual killings. Yeah, you look great! God, yeah! Hi, how are you? Hi, how are you? Hi, I’m Martin Blank, you remember me? I’m not married, I don’t have any kids, but I’d blow your head off if someone paid me enough.
Christie: So, Mi-chelle! What are you up to?
Michele: Oh, okay. Um, I invented Post-Its.
Christie: No offense, Michele, but how in the world did *you* think of Post-Its?
[looks across the room at Romy talking to Billy Christianson]
Romy: And I thought of them completely by myself. I mean, all Michele did was say: “What about making them yellow?”
Michele: [turns to the A Group] Actually I invented a special kind of glue.
Christie: Oh really? Well then I’m sure you wouldn’t mind giving us a detailed account of exactly how you concocted this miracle glue, would you?
Michele: No. Um, well, ordinarily when you make glue first you need to thermoset your resin and then after it cools you have to mix in an epoxide, which is really just a fancy-schmancy name for any simple oxygenated adhesive, right? And then I thought maybe, just maybe, you could raise the viscosity by adding a complex glucose derivative during the emulsification process and it turns out I was right.
Duncan Sheperd: Clay, I don’t want to be here. Did you see all those people out there? I heard many of them talking about how great their lives are. Everyone has the BMW’s, the fancy jobs, the houses. I’m just here because you wanted to come and you’re my best friend and so I can keep an eye on you and make sure you don’t have another episode.
Clay Mellon: I’m not going to have an episode. I took my lithium. At least I think I took it.
Duncan Sheperd: What am I gonna say when they ask me what I’m doing now? I went bankrupt? I’m unemployed? I lost everything? I lost my car, my house, my job?
Clay Mellon: Come on, Duncan. It’s all on how you say it. You can say it like a loser… “oh, I’m unemployed. I lost my job.” Or you can say it with confidence. Think James Bond. “I’m sifting through offers.”
Duncan Sheperd: Clay, I’m not even looking for another job. I’m living on a sofa bed in your apartment. I’m going every day to museums, art galleries, taking long walks in parks. I’m the lowest of the low. I’m at the bottom of the barrel.
Clay Mellon: Maybe. But at least you’re still wearing the suit and tie.
So many funny quotes…so crude.
Miri: How about this? (shows off an outfit)
Zack: I don’t get why you’re putting so much effort into this thing anyway, I thought we were like, just gonna go and sit around and make fun of everybody.
Gloria: Life can be difficult sometimes, it gets bumpy. What with family and kids and things not going exactly like you planed. But that’s what makes it interesting. In life the first act is always exciting. The second act… that is where the depth comes in.
*NOTE: You see, the problem was that John Cusack stayed with me, like he does. And suddenly, I wanted to watch Say Anything. That led me to not necessarily Reunion movies, but High School movies.
Lloyd Dobler: I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.
Keith: Well, I like art, I work in a gas station, my best friend is a tomboy. These things don’t fly too well in the American high school.
Of course I could put the classic line: Ferris: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
But this one was just so…great: Economics Teacher: In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the… Anyone? Anyone?… the Great Depression, passed the… Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?… raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. “Voodoo” economics.
Brian Johnson: Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…
Andrew Clark: …and an athlete…
Allison Reynolds: …and a basket case…
Claire Standish: …a princess…
John Bender: …and a criminal…
Brian Johnson: Does that answer your question?… Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.
It could go on forever from here…Pretty In Pink, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles…anyway, all the worry on the horizon, it dissipated. Instead, my mind twirled around to two shining thoughts:
1) Why would John Hughes go to all that trouble to set up high school expectations and definitions and NOT give us anything to go on twenty years later? I would half-heartedly watch that movie.
2) Why don’t we just stay home and watch movies from our glory days?
Either way…look out livestock, here we come.