All Dressed Up and Nowhere to ... Go
As I type this, I am dressed in a dress shirt and tie and a pair of suit pants, and sitting on the toilet.
The toilet, I can explain. See, Janet and I have made the arduous journey, at considerable personal expense, through wild terrain (Connecticut) and barren wilderness (New York) to arrive at the very last place on Earth any mortal wishes to be (Bergen County, New Jersey). As many of you may know, I grew up here until leaving for college. Stealing a joke from a comedian whose name I no longer remember, it took me until I was 18 to realize we were actually free to leave. And this weekend is my 25 year high school class reunion, which I am not only attending, but had the odd lack of sense to volunteer to help organize!
So we're staying in a hotel overnight, and as you seasoned travelers are no doubt aware, in many such rooms, the only available outlet is in the bathroom, and then only if you unplug the hair dryer whose volume and temperature are approximately the same as having someone walk up a moderate flight of stairs and then breathe heavily upon your wet hair. It occurs to me that these would be extremely appropriate in Wal*Mart bathrooms, the ones whose sinks drool three anemic streams of water on you. Then again, I don't know why I complain, in my case I'd be perfectly happy if they just gave us a squeegee.
My laptop battery is low, thus the outlet and my current ignominious location. I have a much harder time explaining the suit clothing. The truth is, I'm not a suit guy. I don't wear a tie when we go to church on Sunday. As I recall, I didn't wear a suit or tie to the last funeral I attended. I'm pretty sure I wore one when I got married to Janet, because since I was metaphorically tying a rope around my neck for the rest of my life, I might as well tie something physically there as well. (Just kidding, Janet!)
I've drawn the line at the suit jacket. As I explained to one of my classmates, when she asked what I'd be wearing (so her husband could decide what to wear also), I'm male and heterosexual, I'm not expected to have fashion sense. Plus, I don't own a sport coat.
But here's the thing: this entire reunion is the fault of Facebook. I'm not kidding. A little less than a year ago, I was on Facebook and noticed that there were a lot of "East Bumble High School, Class of 19xx" groups, but none for my graduating class, and with nothing better to do with my time, I created one. A few days later, several people had found it, and I made my big mistake: I asked "Y'know, we're coming up on 25 years since we all graduated. Does anyone know if there's a 25 year reunion coming up?"
You need to understand, I'd never really thought about it. To this point, some part of me had just assumed that there were reunion fairies out there that just randomly pulled together reunions on multiples of 5 and 10 years (5 and 10 being magical numbers ever since the day when "5 and 10" meant the local Woolworth's). So I just figured "someone" was probably putting together the 25 year reunion, and that it would be fun to attend.
Well, of course it turns out that there are no fairies. Well, in some classes there may be, but I already established that I'm heterosexual (bada bum). There are just random people too stupid to answer "er, I'd love to, but I have a thing with a guy" when someone else says "Hey! We should organize one!"
I should say, "we" organized this the way "my 3 year old son and I" go shopping for groceries. I sat comfortably in the shopping cart (aka from the distance of New Hampshire), occasionally pontificating in e-mail my opinions about how the event should go and left virtually all of the real work to people who are less lazy and more organized than I. Very much the small child, asking "Daddy, can we get that?" and being told "no, that menu item would be too expensive" or "no, strippers aren't appropriate for a reunion dinner".
Still, though, apparently no one on the team feels that they did as much work as "everyone else" did, which means that either the division of labor was more equitable than I realize, or we're going to get down there in half an hour to set up and realize we forgot something major, like a band, a caterer, or actually letting the hotel know we'd be using their banquet room.
The planning for this reunion went very smoothly for quite some time, and then four days ago it took and abrupt left turn: Apparently two weeks ago, the hotel which we had booked had a fire in their main banquet room. They hadn't bothered to let us know, because they figured they could just put us in a couple of the smaller banquet rooms with a private hallway between, and no one would notice, apparently on the theory that 25 years out of high school, we'd clearly be too senile to recognize that A) we were not, technically, in a single, large ballroom, and B) hotel ballrooms are not supposed to smell like California during forest fire season.
Well, we (and by "we" I mean Diana, who did most of the local heavy lifting) noticed. On Tuesday morning, when we went to sign the final contract, give final numbers, and pay the bill, we took one look at the proposed solution and immediately we notified the other five members of the planning committee.
Just down the street from the hotel we were supposed to be at is a luxury hotel, the ballroom of which we on the committee had rejected since it was nearly 50% more expensive, but apparently in these economic times we were not the only people who rejected it, because when we made a big stink about the, er, big stink, our original hotel worked out a deal with the new hotel by which A) they would host our reunion, and B) we would pay them the same fee we had originally negotiated with the cheaper hotel. We traded up, big time, but those reports that members of the reunion committee were seen darting furtively through the dark the the moments before the fire are entirely spurious, I promise.
By the way, one other interesting result of being in the nicer hotel is (this is true), I rode up an elevator with noted comic and modern day philosopher Paula Poundstone. Well, technically, this is only sort of true. Running back to my room to get my laptop computer (every successful reunion needs a laptop!), I got into the elevator with a woman who looked incredibly like Ms. Poundstone, and when she pressed my floor (20), I said "That's my floor too!" and she replied in Paula Poundstone's voice "Well that's convenient". I never asked, to be sure. My wife has since said "You should have", but here's my thinking: I'm not very good with faces... or voices... or, really when it gets right down to it, differentiating humans from other primates. By not asking, I get to spend the rest of my life thinking "I might have ridden 20 floors in an elevator with Paula Poundstone" instead of spending the next day of my life saying "I rode 20 floors in a woman who was nothing like Paula Poundstone, but until I asked, I thought it was." A lifetime of "brush with greatness" memories vs. 20 minutes of "wow, that was stupid! How I could have initially thought that gentleman was Paula Poundstone, I have no idea!"
Anyway, this brush with greatness gave me the self-confidence and humility necessary to negotiate an evening with people who had beaten me up so badly in the high school locker room (and with the guys as well), many of whom have since gone on to do things far more successful than writing computer programs, silly humor essays and breeding like the Waltons on Rohypnol.
But I'm not bitter. Very few of them have successfully lost their hair!
Copyright © October 17, 2009 by Liam Johnson. http://liam-humor.blogspot.com