The Friday night meet-and-eat was to be held at the Foundry building, on the World's Fair site. I haven't been back in the Foundry since it was the Strohaus at the 1982 World's Fair, so I was looking forward to returning and seeing what it was like. My wife L., being the social butterfly that she is, had been several times for other events and assured me it was a lot different. No more German oompah bands? No strudel? No chicken dances? I don't wanna go.....
But I bravely went on. I'd heard Motley Crue or somebody was having a concert on the lawn at the Fair Site that night as well, and feared for the parking but apparently the fact that it was on the other side of the park, combined with the fact that most Crue fans these days need walkers and ride public transportation, parking problems never materialized...
We arrived, the sky sparkling clear and barely hinting at dusk. Pulling up near the entrance, I noticed other couples leaving their cars and making their own ways to the front doors. I glanced around, hoping -- and not hoping -- to recognize someone. I didn't. There were several sets of people I didn't recognize at all.
Now we had a small class - 242 at graduation, I believe - which was the smallest class our school had had in decades. Contrast that with the class that graduated 4 years later, it had the most. Which meant I thought surely I would recognize someone. There was a line entering a door at the side, and being the good automotons that we humans are we joined the line. Still didn't recognize anyone.
"Oh, Lord," I thought, "This is going to be horrible."
After a few moments, a little kid (?) stuck his head out the side door, peered up and down the line, and hollered, "Is everyone here for the Farragut High Reunion?"
Huh? I timidly raised my hand, "No, Central High".
"Oh," he said, waving us in excitedly, "Come in this way."
Well, no freakin' wonder. I'm in the wrong reunion.
We moved past the line of unfamiliar 30-somethings in fancy outfits and proceeded inside. Yes, indeed, Farragut High Class of '84 - all 14,431 graduates - was having their reunion at the same time and place as ours. Compared to them, our class looked like the kids table at Thanksgiving. But I digress.
Instead of trying to do a play-by-play narrative, I'll just do the stream of consciousness high points:
- Met up with Danny, one of my best friends. He'd emailed me earlier that day that he was looking forward to being there. Danny has one of the funnies and dryest senses of humor I've ever known. I used to sit in the back of English class and crack up at his deadpan jokes, at our teacher's expense. He was a little taller, and a little chubbier, but still the same guy.
- "Whoa...who was that? WHOA...I remember her now --- WHOA, she did NOT have those back in high school...! ("must stop staring...must stop staring...")
- Saw Jack and Hal, both who played baseball with me in rec leagues and we were all coached by my dad.
- Ok, this is getting weird.
- Lots of hand-shaking, some perunctory hugs.
- Man, it's loud. No music, really, just drinks and chatter - it's hard to hear.
Or is that just my own hearing? Uh oh.
- Kelly and her husband live in Virginia, and had left their house boarded up because of Hurricane Charley - they were leaving tomorrow to go back and re-batten down the hatches. They would miss the dinner the following evening.
Her husband eerily reminded me of Christopher Walken. He was very nice, but I've always thought of Walken as ubercreepy, so it was disconcerting at first.
Kelly took digital pictures all over.
I didn't recognize her at first, because she now had blonde hair - in school, it was brown. I actually thought she was one of our exchange students at first (sorry, Kelly) :)
- The jocks came, the cheerleaders came - all in a gaggle, as usual. Some things never change. One group of ladies arrived in a pack, chattering and giggling among themselves the same way they'd done twenty years ago.
- I couldn't get over just how good everyone looked. Sure, there were some wrinkles, and paunches, and this is that was sagging a bit but everyone just looked good. It's hard to descibe. I'll talk more about that during the 3rd part.
- I was disappointed that there was no music - it would've made it more difficult to hear, but I still missed it.
- We had a buffet dinner that was very good.
- Laura seemed to enjoy herself, and eventually parked to chat with Jack's (see above) wife for the bulk of the evening. Not having grown up in East Tennessee, she didn't know anyone in particular.
- I was also disappointed in the no-shows. Beth had been stuck in New York and let me know earlier in the day that she would miss this evening, but would be back for sure the next day - that was fine. But the ones who didn't make it back at all were some of the ones I was most looking forward to seeing. And some even still lived in Knoxville, or in the area.
Tom, one of the organizers of the event and my fellow delegate to Boys State in 83 informed be that there were about 10-15 other classmates who couldn't make it that night, that would be there the next day. That's good.
- I told a lot of people that same things - what I was doing now, what I did in college, showed them pictures of BrainyBoy and GiggleGirl at the beach. It was fun hearing other peoples' stories but retelling my own time after time got old after a while ;)
- Amusingly, we got crashed. A lady wandered in, and rushed over to me - "Barry! Remember me?" I looked at her face with that old, "Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....yes I know you! it's great to see you! who the hell are you!?" look, until she showed me her name badge. Her name was Kristi, and had gone to Gresham Junior High with a number of us way back even farther in time - the late '70's. She had transferred out to Farragut High when starting high school, and had stepped in to see if she recognized anyone she knew in Junior High. There were about three girls I had little-kid crushes on in Junior High, and she was one of them. Amazing what coincidences can happen. :)
No, I didn't tell her, that.
- Overall the evening was great fun, but for me even upon getting ready to go, I could tell the party was just getting started. The awkward, "Gee, how are you - great to see you - so what've you been up to?" stage had been entered, and passed by most of us there. Tomorrow night at the Country Club we'd already be past the awkward first moments and be ready to remember why it was we liked...
each other in the first place.
It took a long while for sleep to come.
Next: Saturday Night, at the Country Club with my date