May 2, 2005

Hail, Ignatius

In about eight hours, I will be on a plane headed back to St. Louis - however, my mind is back at Saturday night. My twentieth high school reunion.

I had just come from my godson's birthday, filled with kids, toys, and Darth Vader cake, so I was of a mind to hang out with adults. As soon as I had arrived at the school, my heart began beating quickly - yes, it is cliche to admit, but I was anticipating catching up with old friends, seeing some former colleagues, and basically, a night out that I have needed for a long time.

The class of 1985, despite the usual high school cliquishness and divisiveness, was one of the more tightly-knit, incorigible, hard drinking classes. (I know, as a substance abuse counselor/prevention specialist, I should not glamorize underage drinking - but we loved to party. It became apparent as the evening began, with our class photo - there was no way we were going to allow some photographer to tell us what to do. Afterwards, we began doing what we were good at - basically, hanging out and talking.

If I lacked confidence before this evening, I swiftly gained it - many of my male classmates have lost hair, gained weight, and/or have had their spirits broken by life. (One arch-nemesis in particular, who was lanky and lean twenty years ago, makes me look absolutely svelte). A small number of my female classmates are still "smokin' hot", twenty years later (and if you are reading this and wonder if you're one of those "smokin' hot" women, e-mail me and I'll let you know. Honestly). Two of my best friends and I wondered where a mutual friend - Tom B - was that evening. We concluded he was either 1) playing golf and/or 2) downloading Internet porn.

Gradually, we saw the sights - went on tours of the renovated building, consumed very stiff drinks (or, as another classmate put it, "Gin and tonic must have tonic in it"). Pictures of children were exchanged, I provided clinical consultation for a friend who's now a social worker, and basically...had some deep, meaningful conversations. However, as several of my closer friends and I talked, we slowly realized that, for some of us, we never really graduated high school - some of us fell back into the same old cliques, and couldn't move out of the "hi/how are you/what's your job?" cycle.

At one point, another arch-nemesis' wife - obviously inebriated - began asking me questions about how I and her husband got along. Maybe she had a jones for me, I don't know, but began asking rather personal questions about me, and would not let me get back to the reunion. (These questions, if written, would make this blog incredibly work unsafe). However, thanks to her, I now have blackmail well as tuition money for my future children.

Eventually, though, many of us made our way to a bar near Randolph and Halstead, and continued the fine tradition of partying hard. In fact, a female classmate and I - with whom I have had an extended flirtation - became very friendly with each other. She was one of those women whom I had interest in, but never pushed it. (She's also very unavailable, and I make it a point to knowingly hit on women in relationships). As the evening went on, however, sparks began flying between the two of us - touching became hugging, the verbal back-and-forth got a little hot and heavy, and, well...eventually, she made me an offer that I did not want to refuse. However, thanks to her best friend from high school (and a brief moment of sobriety), I was able to be a gentleman and politely back away. Alcohol and flirting can be a very dangerous combination. That evening, I returned to my hotel room at 2:00 am, tired, weary, but happy.

Now, I'm going back to St. Louis to enjoy the rest of my vacation. I don't know if any of my classmates are reading this, but if they are: John, I owe you a beer at Tap Room when you're in town. Joe S - let me know when you and your son are in town, and I'll work hard to get Cardinals tickets. Gail - if you ever need my clinical expertise, drop me an e-mail. Everyone else - thanks for the great time. Everyone else - great to see you, and thanks for a wonderful evening.

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