All School reunion

Farm Forum

Nothing like a school reunion to expose the hob-nailed boots that step on your face as time marches by.

I always find myself struggling to compete with loud bands and nametags written in very small words that apparently identify actual classmates.

Lately at my reunions, the tags have also included blood type and next of kin. At one reunion I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen for years who had aged so much he didn’t even recognize me.

All-School reunion music, excellent though it usually is, makes conversation impossible.

Perhaps it is the size of the room that multiplies the decibels and tends to cause older alums to retreat like wrinkled elephants to the rear of the room. There, in relative safety, we scratch our ankles to relive the intense pressure of elastic holding up our socks, pick our teeth and hope the bathroom is just a few shuffling steps away.

At a recent all-school reunion I found that the closer one got to the stage and the band, the younger the listeners tended to be. Age is calculated by the square of the distance that one stands or sits from the band. The young ones, of course, are up real close for the entire evening, while the members of the older classes slump in chairs in the back until their wives wake them up and tell them its time to go.

Once, I left my chair and the psychological safety of geezerdom and wandered up to the edge of the dance floor to see what was going on. There, a kid who appeared to be about twelve shoved out his hand and said: “Howyalikedoingdude?” I figured he must have been a foreign exchange student who was greeting me in Polish or something.

I quickly retreated to my own kind far in the rear where curmudgeons were camped out, shouting at hand cupped, gravity-stretched earlobes dangling precariously on the sides of bald heads that nodded incessantly like a bobble head doll replica of Sister Theresa .

“Wanna beer?” I asked a long-lost friend who I think suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome over about ninety percent of his body. “Sure, I can hear,” he said. “I’m not THAT old.”

He never did have much grain in his silo, the old coot.

I moved on.

I asked another old guy whose birthstone was probably petrified wood how he liked the meal. He took exception: “No, it wasn’t veal you dummy,” he said. “It was steak.” I hope the AARP discontinues his membership and his ear-piece batteries short out and fry his little old pea brain, the grouch.

I squinted my eyes to admire an old friend’s wristwatch and ask him what kind it was. He held it at arms length, tilted his head back, sighted in on it for a long, long minute, and then told me it was nine-thirty.

It sure seemed later than that to me.

The other sense that abandons you at a reunion is good vision. They don’t make nametags like they once did, in big, gaudy felt-tipped-printed letters next to a picture of you in high school when you had pimples and funny hair on your head and not growing out of your ears like it tends to do now.

At reunions lately, making out for me means reading the small type on nametags.

At one reunion recently, in the dim light of the meeting room, I tried to visit with one old lady whose tag I couldn’t decipher, only to discover that I was asking my own wife where she was from.

Fortunately, the band hit a loud refrain about then and I couldn’t hear what she told me to do with my nametag.

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