Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Candy, Back in the Desert

First, the high school reunion.

It was blissfully uneventful. No one got overly drunk, no one yelled at anybody, the food was decent, blah blah. 22 out of 83 classmates showed up. There were 35 people total. Out of the 22 classmates? 4 males. No, wait. 5. One of them left before the group photo was taken. But he spoke about 11 syllables while he was there, so I didn't exactly miss him.

According to those who organized the shindig, there are several class members who apparently despise their former classmates. And none of us knows why. One of them will not speak to any of us when she has the misfortune of random public contact. She was one of us. We had fantastically idiotic fun times with her. What happened to her? What could have driven her underground like an angry, bewildered mole? No attempt at contact, by any of us, has been reciprocated. I stopped trying years ago. You have to save your sanity, you know. You have to, at some point, pay closer attention to those who are interested in being your friend. You must give the sullen moles the boot. Leave them to their loamy basements to gnaw and swat at tiny imaginary beasties in their tangled fur.

Then there's this guy from our class who sent a verbal message to the reunion planners via his sister: "Tell them not to waste their damned stamp." OK. Point taken. Here, drink this Maalox and sawdust smoothie I made for you.

The weirdest part of the whole evening is something I may have noticed before, but had forgotten: We all have different memories. For instance, when we girls used to have slumber parties, we always had to venture into the dark arts a little and try our hand at "levitation." This is where 7 or 8 girls gather around the body of the "dead" girl lying on her back on the floor. The person at her head massages the girl's temples in a very spooky way, while telling a tale about how the poor dead girl came to her dismal end. And believe me, the end is never easy. There is never a simple death from, say, gagging on a twinkie or mixing Midol with Boone's Farm. It is always violent and creepy. A car wreck in the woods where the girl manages to escape the burning vehicle just in time to be eaten by a bear. That sort of thing.

One of my friends at the reunion started telling about how "Oh my God, Candy told the SCARIEST stories. I used to get so scared I couldn't move!"

I was gobsmacked. What I remember is being so freaked out by the whole "light as a feather, stiff as a board" incantation that I would run into the kitchen of whomever's house it was, and talk to the resident mom. Anything to avoid the sinister witches in the candle-lit living room. But maybe that never happened. I had more than one witness testifying about my ghoulish stories and insisting that I scared ten years off their lives.

This "remember when" stuff went on all evening, as I'm sure it does at every class reunion in every language. And each time someone would talk about a specific basketball game or political hallway incident at school, there would be half a dozen voices saying "I don't remember that at all." Quite a few people who know me have told me I have a surgically precise memory. And maybe I do. But even I was lost when hearing all these mysterious forgotten details. Which just goes to show you, in the big fat novel that is life, there is no such thing as a reliable narrator. Everyone has their own separate transparency for the overhead projector, insistent and vivid.

As I looked around the room at the faces, some who were at the reunion for the first time, the whole ritual seemed bizarre. With one or 2 exceptions, I had no idea who these people had become as adults. And even with such a small gathering, there were people I never got the chance to talk to. It was hello/goodbye and a once-over to size up how fat/bald/weary-looking we'd gotten. But it felt like a gentle sizing up all around, not a vindictive one. Just a chance to run back into formation momentarily and say "I'm still alive. You too? OK. See you in another five years." Maybe the moles will climb out of their burrows for that one.


  • At 11:32 PM, Blogger Gail said…

    After the last reunion that I will probably ever attend I found out that one of the guyd I talked to at length, but never knew that well in school, had died of an aneurism. Wow. I was devastated, as I'm sure we all are when things happen this suddenly. It highlighted to me the importance of just a friendly conversation.
    Boone's Farm. Do they still produce that stuff that eased us all into the world of alcohol? I can vaguely remember things such as 2 percent beer, Rolling Rock, Zeller Schwarz Katz, and Blue Nun. I think there's a reason that I can only vaguely remember:)

  • At 11:43 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    I was thinking about all that at my reunion. We're 48 years old now, in my class. We're living in the heart attack zone, etc.

    They DO still make Boone's Farm! I used to drink "Tickled Pink" in college and could not handle anything as stout as a Rolling Rock. HA!

  • At 6:12 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    I think high school years were so traumatic for some people that everything associated with that period is aversive. Even people they knew but had no particular problem with have become objects for angry avoidance.

    Other folks seem to be angry at themselves--for failing to succeed, or exceed the expectations of their classes social hierarchy. The problem is that there is no way to win; if you were tremendously successful--became rich--your classmates would still have you in the same box you occupied all those years back. Geek, hood, athlete, socialite, brainiac--you would still be the person you were back then.

    The people I have known who loved their reunions were those who stayed in the same town and maintained all their high school friends. For them, the reunion was just another social event. They had years to iron out all their issues with people--to watch them meet, exceed, or fail to reach the expectations set for them.

    I hated high school.

  • At 6:16 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    "Which just goes to show you, in the big fat novel that is life, there is no such thing as a reliable narrator. Everyone has their own separate transparency for the overhead projector, insistent and vivid."

    Nicely expressed.

  • At 1:10 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry... I wondered if some of the anger held by the hateful absentees was self-directed. It's sad and frustrating not to get the chance to talk to them. There are a few I'm really interested in, truly would like to know how life is going. But they shut themselves off.

    One of the surprising things about those who do still live in town, and who did attend the reunion: They say they don't have much to do with one another, other than the occasional accidental meeting at the grocery store, etc. That was not at all what I expected.

    How about this? We get to choose all new labels. This time I'm going to be a hood. :)

  • At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was partial to Strawberry Hill Boone's Farm.

    I truly hope that I am not labeled a "hateful absentee." I no longer harbor any ill-feelings toward anyone that I went to high school with. After all, I had my moments of being quite the little shit back then too. We've all grown up now. But I just don't really care to go to a reunion. Perhaps when it comes time for the 20 year I'll have developed enough curiosity to check it out and see what everyone has been up to.

    I think that I have to agree with what Jerry says. Those were just not very happy years for me--and in my case, it really didn't have anything to do with being picked on or having issues with anyone in my class. I don't think that I even fell into any particular "group," as I had friends in several groups and in several different classes. It just wasn't the best time of my life, so going to a class reunion would just rehash too many bad memories for me, I think.

    All of this class reunion talk has caused me to think of some of my old friends....friends that I had totally forgotten over the years (I guess that doesn't make me much of a friend!) and now I am wondering what they are up to. Perhaps if I focus on those memories, rather than the negative ones from those years, I will actually look forward to the 20th reunion and work up the courage to go.

  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger Carin said…

    I just recently skipped my 20 hs reunion. The reasons were ... silly, I suppose.

    I didn't really like high school, for one. I didn't have a horrible time, but I didn't have a wonderful time either. I don't blame anyone, but myself. But, because of it - I don't have a ton of people I really have a burning desire to see. AND, most of the people I really would have liked to connect with didn't show up. There were maybe two or three people who went, who I missed the opportunity of seeing. I graduated in a class of almost 400.

    Also - the reunion was too close to the kidney dealo, and I didn't have time to lose weight/ etc. I'm vain.

  • At 3:40 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis and Carin...
    I think the size of your high schools might have had something to do with your experiences being a little different from mine. I actually didn't like high school one bit either. But was still surprised that more people weren't curious enough to come "back" to the reunion. Everybody knew everybody and I thought people would be as interested as I was to see how everyone turned out. But then I'm just nosy. :)

  • At 4:52 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Something about my heart stayed there...stayed in the place and time that was then. Now I'm here. But, I'm not sure I know the difference. I feel like high school was a time and place that I lost because of some stuff that I could not control.

    I wonder how the popular kids feel about all this. Mostly, those of us who were unsuccessful are traumatized.

  • At 11:19 AM, Blogger Miss B said…

    Candy... I just found out one of my classmates killed her mother and tried to kill her lover, then slit her own throat and wrists. She survived, and is now in jail awaiting trial. This happened a couple months ago (about the same time I stopped getting emails from her) and I heard about it on the radio this morning on the way to work... i had to pull over. i used to hang out with her, spend nights at each others' houses, I knew her mom. It's very strange how we knew them then, but not the people they've become.

  • At 11:25 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Miss B, That is amazingly terrifying. And to think back on spending the night with her, etc. must just be freakish. Wow.

  • At 5:31 PM, Blogger Citlali said…

    Wow, every time I read about someone's high school reunion experience I wonder what mine would have been like. My twentieth would be soon approaching by now -- if I had graduated from a regular high school, but that's not the case. My "high school" was made up of one 3-student school year, a 10-student school year, a 25-student school year and one at a community college. What? Yeah, I guess I'll have to write about that some time. In any case, no proper "class" -- no prom or follow-ups. But I have lots of other groups, establishments to avoid and anguish over in my memory. No loss there. I'm pretty sure I can still identify. Whatever the experience was for any of us those teen years are mostly very messed-up. Like someone said here -- just the way it is, eh? = ]

  • At 5:38 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…


    You WILL have to write about that sometime! Sounds unique.

    Nice that you have lots to "anguish over" in your memory. Did ANY of us avoid that? Ugh.


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