So about the reunion... Sigh.
When I heard (what I thought was) the cab pull into the driveway after midnight I figured that was a good sign. I assumed that if the party had been a bust Penn would have returned home much sooner.
So I was surprised to see him shuffle in with a sheepish look on his face, brother-in-law in tow. The reunion was, in a word, "lame."
You know how I was so worried that it would be awkward and uncomfortable? It was. That no one would remember him or talk to him? They barely did. At least he did not get into any fistfights.
Not only did not one of Penn's friends show up (which we'd expected) none of the people he even knew casually were there. It was, apparently, a sea of unfamilar faces and nametags. He didn't recognize anyone. It was like it was some other person's high school class reunion. Here and there a vaguely familiar name. That's about it.
And just in case you were wondering, a twenty-year reunion isn't a great time to make new friends. Everyone is so excited to see each other and caught up in animated conversation that they don't notice the lonesome looking guy, all by himself, feeling kind of losery. I tried to think of what Penn could have done. What the most outgoing and practically unembarassable person I know - my stepdad - would do. I think he would probably have boldly approached a group of people, politely interrupted them if he had to, and introduced himself with a super friendly smile and confident handshake. But that isn't Penn.
Penn did what I would have done in this situation. First, he visited the restroom. Surely by the time he came out someone familiar would have arrived. Nope. So he ordered a beverage and chatted with the bartender for a several minutes. And yet no one he knew had shown up. With feigned (but intent) interest he studied the poster-size yearbook photos plastered around the room. Still nobody. Desperate, he approached the group of teachers. He hadn't had any of them. Not a single one. Finally he parked himself near the entrance and tried hard to look like he was not in the slightest bit embarrassed. Like he was having the time of his life sitting alone at his high school reunion while everyone else laughed, hugged, and reminisced. He waited and waited and waited. For just one acquaintance to glob onto. But no such luck. Stranger after stranger walked by, looked him over with a blank expression, and kept moving. It was then that he began to detect looks of pity. Which was just too much for even unflappable Penn.
He thought to himself, "This isn't fun." And he left.
He walked a long way to one of his favorite old haunts (a bar) and called his brother-in-law. They hung out for a few hours, listening to some band. Apparently he caught the fancy of an attractive (according to my brother-in-law) and inebriated (according to Penn) young lady who kept attempting to sit in his lap. She told him he looked like someone who could dance. Hint, hint! So he got to dance after all. I'm sure the attention was good for his bruised ego. And luckily, I'm not the jealous type.
After his BIL left we talked in great detail about the evening. He appeared to be the only single person there. I felt so bad that I didn't accompany him, although I'm not sure that would have helped much. I asked him if he at least was dressed right. Thank heaven for small favors, he was. To be honest, he looked like a million bucks. "Dressy casual" suits him.
I just felt devastated for him last night. He was not emotionally affected, but it just hurt my heart that those JERKS... I don't know. I don't know what all those reunion revelers should have done differently. They didn't do anything wrong. But I have to blame someone.
I tried pinning it all on his old high school buddy who first called him and got him to agree to go before backing out when he found out how much it would cost. But Penn would not let me stay mad at this guy, even though I wanted to. And I couldn't if I wanted to because he's one of those people who thinks Penn hung the moon and how can a wife not love that in a person? He has a foot long ponytail and a Harley and he's always trying to tell me some old story about Penn that is sure to outrage me. But he does have a heart of gold and I'm sure he didn't mean to set these events into motion.
Penn blames himself. And he's probably on target. I think he just got a bit nostalgic and forgot that he didn't actually like school. As he put is, "I grossly underestimated how uninvolved I was at my high school."
His graduating class was quite large. But the reunion group was not. It appeared to him to be mostly athletic teammates and former club members. Well, did he participate in any group or sport? No. Did he attend pep assemblies, games, or school sponsored events? Not a one. Oh, except for the senior prom. To which he brought his TWENTY-SIX year old girlfriend. And stayed less than an hour. (Can you even fathom a twenty-something woman who would date an eighteen-year-old boy, much less accompany him to his high school prom? Has this person no pride? And she was pretty, too - I've seen photographic evidence. Merciful heavens.) Did Penn go along with the rest of the class on senior skip day? No. He went with friends to Canada that day. Did he go to the all-night graduation party? No, he went camping instead. Come to think of it, his photo isn't even in the yearbook because he'd missed the deadline.
"So you basically did everything you could to avoid getting to know your classmates in high school and now you feel like Mr. Nobody because you aren't part of the gang?"
"Yes, that pretty much sums it up."
Then it all became pretty funny and we had a good laugh about what nerdy losers we are. This must be why Revenge of the Nerds is one of our favorite movies. (Although I know many parts are extremely inappropriate.) I secretly marveled at his miraculous transformation from this smoking, drinking, and goodness-knows-what-else-ing high school smart aleck to my Penn. Oh, he's still a smart aleck. But he's also Mr. Family Guy. Clean cut. Church going. Friendly and kind. Dad of the Millenia. Loved by all. Well, it has been twenty years.
Sunday morning I woke up and didn't even remember about the reunion until I saw his nice outfit in a bunch on the closet floor. Oh yeah. What had seemed so sad and upsetting the night before turned into a big, "Oh well."
Thank goodness this happened to Penn and not to me. He just lets this kind of thing bounce off of him. I desperately hope that Nicknack and any future children we may have inherit this trait from him. I don't think I can handle all the slights that are bound to come their way throughout childhood and adolescence. Especially if they are as hypersensitive as I am. Penn's mother always says that having children is like having your heart walk around outside of your body. It's going to be very difficult for me to restrain myself when someone teases Nicknack, or excludes him, or picks a fight with him. As it is, I still would like to call up each of Penn's classmates and yell into the telephone "Your loss!" and hang up. Hee hee. Just thinking about it is very satisfying.