The blondes of my 40th reunion
“Wow, look at all the blondes in there.” This is what I heard one guy tell his friend as I was leaving my 40th high school reunion.
I glanced back at the banquet hall, a glass wall provided a good view of my classmates. The two men in their 30s, were on a walk-way passing the window. I confirmed, ”yea, we’re from a very blonde town.”
“Where is that?” the dark-haired chap enquired.
“La Crescenta,” I informed them.
“Oh, I think I know where that is.” They looked amazed and eager to explore the blonde territory.
I didn’t tell them it was 40 years ago, and the demographics have changed.
Of course, I’m well aware of the fact that as a blonde, I’m in the minority. But I forget that. I didn’t even notice all the blondes at my reunion. Even though blondes take the brunt of the dumb jokes, I love being blonde, and I have more fun, cuz I don’t mind being dumb now and then. And blondes are never offended, unlike other minorities.
In high school I was kind of an introvert. I was shy in class and rarely raised my hand. I wasn’t the cheerleader or the song leader. I didn’t go to parties or drink or smoke pot. I studied. I was and am an overachiever. My sophomore year, I had a boyfriend who was a senior. When that happens it sort of divides you from your girlfriends. My senior year I got mononucleosis and stayed home for three months. My teachers tutored me at my house. I was tired all the time. But I kept my grades — I was determined to be blonde and smart.
I told my kids I was going to my reunion and they were surprised (knowing my low social need.) “Maybe you can find out who wrote that you were a bitch on the bathroom wall.” We laughed, “how should I ask that — “excuse me, who thought I was a bitch in high school?” I’m sure there were some reasons, looking back, I can find one or two. It was never cool to get good grades. I drove one of my dad’s too cool cars to school. (I made sure none of my five kids had that opportunity.)
Anyway, my kids know I’m a party pooper.
Even my mom said, “Really? that doesn’t sound like you.” This year, I got a call from our ASB president, Doug. You know, the nice guy at school who was kind to everyone. I was the secretary that year, but then I got mono. I wasn’t the ASB secretary due to popularity — I was the only person who ran that semester. Come to think of it, I’m not sure why I did — but I understood the need for a good transcript with extra activities.
I agreed to go and then I wondered why. That’s normal for me, after I commit, I think, “uh-oh, why did I do that?” But I need to step out of my comfort zone. I know this. However, when you don’t drink even a little wine, it takes a lot of guts to walk around and stare at a classmate’s name tag and try to remember who they are.
There was a poster board of classmates who died. I looked it over and read their names, recognizing friends — the other valedictorian with me, Scott Palmer — dead. He gave the speech at graduation, so I was off the hook. His girlfriend and close friend of mine — dead also.
My next door neighbor, Greg MacDonald, was there, alive and drunk. I remember he was drunk at the senior prom. But a nice guy. We used to have dirt clod fights and play flag football in his backyard.
Mary Lee, my childhood friend, was there — the same cheerful, optimistic person. She got diabetes in second grade and I remember the day her mom came to school and took her home early with the bad news. Her mom was crying. Back then, they didn’t think you would live into your thirties.
Mary Lee lived two houses down from me. Our parents had beach homes in Huntington Harbor. Her dad was an engineer and owned his own firm — Moffatt and Nichol. My dad was an entrepreneur and owned his own restaurants – JBs Big Boy. We did everything together. I can still remember her mom watching “I Love Lucy” and laughing, and maybe that’s why I still like it. Why it makes me feel like I don’t have a worry in the world.
At the table where I sat, there were three couples who met in high school and married. And are still married. (Probably a bygone era.) And I guess from the view outside and the photos inside, there were a lot of blondes.