High School Reunion: Who’s That Girl?
You step across the threshold of the Elks Lodge and freeze for a moment. A small sea of bodies seems to sway at the opposite end of the room like a cluster of anemone. You feel a jolt of panic, wondering how you’ll get through this, who will be here, what you’ll talk about with these familiar-looking strangers. You beeline for the bar. (Hello, watery Cosmopolitan! I don’t think we ever met back in the day, but I’m so glad you’re here.)
Fortified by a splash of Vitamin V, you turn and kick off the parade of Hellos! How are yous! You look terrifics! The knot in your chest starts to loosen. This might actually be fun. It’s only been 25 years, after all, and it’s not like you have any prison time to finesse as you give the overview of what you’ve made of your life. And that’s when you spot her … just there, near the door, looking as nervous as you were feeling moments ago. Look at her: hair too big, eyebrows like caterpillars, those silly parachute pants … and are those – they are! – shoulder pads. Oh, no.
Well, You never were one to miss a party. And now here You are, straight out of 1984, making your way through the crowd. Don’t even try to catch her eye. She’s on a mission. She hooks her arm around a childhood neighbor, asking after his parents. Then she’s drawn in for a photo with a group you met in kindergarten. Now she’s heading straight for the sandy-haired jock you always made such a fool of yourself over. Oops, wife on his arm. Left turn. There’s your crush from freshman year with his gorgeous curls – ohhh, now he’s a chrome dome! Intercepted by a grammar school buddy for a big hug. Look! The girls!!! Your certifiably insane, dear old girlfriends with whom you spent every waking minute of your high school years. They look just the same and the laughter starts up.
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You retreat to the ladies room, give her space to have her fun. Once a pack of chatty women squeeze out the door and leave a little breathing room, you run the water and wash your hands for the requisite happy-birthday-song length (you are a mom now, well informed on the basics of fighting off swine flu!) and then glance up into the mirror. Hair a little tamer these days, but as much salt as pepper sprinkled in there. Eyebrows under control. A lipstick smile … a step up from the clear gloss wand she always used. You know she’s out on the dance floor now, whipping in circles to “99 Red Balloons,” then dashing back to the bar for a glass of water and – hey! what was that pat on the ass from your ex-boyfriend? Everyone’s feeling young again.