Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Candy in Hoosierland

To those of you who have checked in to see where the heck Candy is, thank you. It's comforting to someone who feels, regularly, as though she is swerving off the planet.

I'm in Indiana visiting my family for 9 days. This is a grand luxury, to be with my parents and sister (who lives 5 blocks away) for this long. It will be the highest number of consecutive days I've spent with my mom and dad since I was 19. Whether or not I have a curfew remains to be seen, since I haven't tested it. But tomorrow night is my high school reunion and I am sure to break the parental bedtime boundary of 10:30 p.m. I'll have to sneak in like a delinquent cheerleader, pom-poms tossed to the floor as I slither into bed.

Even if the reunion totally blows, which is a definite possibility, a classmate has informed me that we'll take our bad partying selves over to the Elks club, where a party is always afoot. Candy in an Elks club. Not a combo I'm eager to experience. But I must go with the flow. Candy always goes with the flow. Stop rolling your eyes. I mean it. Don't forget that I can ram my forehead through your screen and give you the stink eye.

My classmate Susan and I have also already discussed who will and probably won't attend the reunion. This is our 30th. Yes. We're old-ish. Our graduating class had 84 people in it and we're lucky if 20 show up for the reunions. It's frustrating because at least 75 people from our class live within a 5-mile radius, having never left town. But the reunion is apparently just not their cup of tea. Or they're too uppity to haul their high-brow selves over to visit with their old pals. Or maybe they think we're too boring. I find this a stretch, based on things like a conversation I had with a former classmate 1 year after graduation. I was at a social function my mom talked me into attending. I ran into a girl from my class.

Candy: Hey...what's new?

Classmate: Oh, just being married and all that.

Candy: Yeah? So how's that going?

Classmate: Well, I'm learning some new stuff.

Candy: Like what?

Classmate: Like there's this magazine article I saw about how to decorate the inside of your husband's lunchbox. With fabric.

Candy: Does your husband want his lunchbox decorated?

Classmate: Well, I made it so that when he opens it at lunchtime, this little curtain drops down over his sandwich. And then he lifts the curtain.

At that point I could not carry my end of the conversation because I was writhing on the ground with my hands on my throat trying to strangle myself. When that didn't work, I mashed my face into the grass and tried to burrow into an underground condominium of night crawlers, in search of a more interesting discussion. Say, about eating dirt.

So, no, boredom just doesn't qualify as an excuse to skip the reunion. Because if I lived through that conversation suffering only a grass-stained face, my classmates and I can all survive one another.

At our 15 year reunion, held at the American Legion, again we had the usual 25 or so, while less than a block away, several people from our class sat in one of the 2 bars in our hometown. This information was passed around at the reunion, and a few of us walked to the bar afterward to visit those who were holding court. It was a sad gathering. 3 or 4 guys from our class were at the bar, wearing hats, hiding their bald heads (so I was told...since I never saw the domes myself) and looking up sheepishly at us when we came in. It was obvious they wanted to be coaxed into the fold. A girl from our class who had recently divorced stood at the bar. I asked her why she hadn't come to the reunion.

"Are you f*cking kidding me? I'm not going to that motherf*cking thing."

Her anger was radiating from her in big red streaks like a cartoon thumb hit with a hammer. Life was not going well.

It wasn't going well for me either. I was there with my sullen, arrogant, posing, more-fun-than-a-nostril-full-of-raw-liver husband, and just wanted to see what was happening in the lives across the fence.

At this point, when we're pushing fifty, going to the reunion feels even more necessary to me. These are the people I knew in adolescence, and now we've passed into that crucial mid-life place of heart attacks and firm political opinions and grieving our parents who are either already gone or elderly, of re-evaluating everything up to this point, and of secretly being afraid we won't be good stewards of the time we have left. Or maybe my classmates don't dip into such self-indulgent, maudlin thoughts. Maybe I'm the only one who fears that I'll never "find" who really resides inside me, at least not to my satisfaction, never figure out what I'm supposed to be doing. But I doubt it.

My husband won't be here to meet the old group. He used up his vacation weeks on that pesky little wedding and Candy Relocation. But already I'm relishing how much better it feels to be missing the presence of someone great vs. attending the reunion with a man who makes me feel I'm wearing a dress made of lead.

I'd love to hear about your high school reunions. Did you go? Were they good or bad? What surprised you? Will you ever go again?


  • At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I had a really good time at the two reunions I've been to. It was surprising to find myself talking mainly to people that I wasn't that close to during school.

  • At 7:19 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    My brother-in-law lives just across the line from you in Marshall, Illinois. I can't discover which high school you went to. There is no 30th reunion listed for August 4th.

    My high school class graduated 680. My 40th reunion was like Mardi Gras. We had over 200 people, none of whom liked me.

    It was great watching the high society clique cluster together and cut their eyes at the "hood" clique. The geek clutch took a far corner and seemed uneasy.

    The whole thing was a psychodrama of social dynamics. Some people drank too much and started acting just like they did 40 years ago. There is a valuable lesson there if you care to ferret it out.

    I hated high school.

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Scott, your experience (the having a good time one) is rare, I think.

    Jerry. That does sound like the perfect "psychodrama of social dynamics."

    I don't think we'll have enough people there tonight to have any cliques. Mostly it turns out to be those who speak and are social, and those who sit numbly at tables and say nothing. Which I find very odd.

  • At 6:35 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Candy, I reread your recent post and I am extremely impressed with how funny you are and how interestingly you intersperse your humor within the context of real experiences.

    At my 40th reunion (I graduated in 1961)I saw the first woman I had a crush on in 1955 (6th grade)and a woman I had a crush on from the 7th to the 9th grade. I still liked them both.

    It was interesting to see the people, but I really did not get to "know" them--as in understand how they have processed the last 40 years.

    My teenage years were traumatic--I was shy, skinny, anxious and neurotic. But, I loved women and all things feminine. I saw the beautiful girls dating the athletes and social elite--I longed for romance and intimacy--I was lonely.

    Loneliness seems to be a part of my persona, it seems to be part of the mystery of self and the ineffability of being. Perhaps those of us who are constantly expressing internal turmoil are having a problem with our relationship with ourselves as well as our connectivity with others.

    I'm not sure, but reunions seem to exacerbate the riot of feelings associated with traumatic teenage years. Songs from the 50s make me melancholy and emotional; I often long to be back there under different circumstances.

    So, I don't know who finds pleasure in a reunion. I bet the people who are other-directed, members of sororities and fraternities--joiners and socializers--have the most fun.

    The rest of us are curiously disturbed and conflicted by them.
    I would like to go to a reunion with you and Gail; I bet the asides and commentary would make the whole thing hilarious--and tolerable.

  • At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    High School Reunion. I don't know. I'm thinking that it might be more fun to go to a bikini-wax- boil-lancing-ingrown-toenail procedure-wisdom-tooth- extraction-colonoscopy and episiotomy reunion with all the people who might have assisted in those, ah, procedures. I mean, I've only actually experienced some of these things in my life so maybe I'm wrong. But I've definitely experienced high school and frankly, I think I'd like any of those other things better than seeing many of the people I went to high school with all in one place at one time. Talk about a nightmare.

  • At 6:42 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry, I'm with you on the loneliness part. How my life is going, good or bad, never seems to affect it.

    Reunions feel so odd when you remember the people in their adolescence but have no idea who they've become. And one evening isn't long enough to mine for the answers.

    Thanks for telling about your experience.

    Ana, either way, reunion or various medical procedures, it's good to be numb.

  • At 9:03 PM, Blogger Steve B said…

    "Her anger was radiating from her in big red streaks like a cartoon thumb hit with a hammer"

    I'm going to start a section on my blog called "Candy Quotes" and keep track of these little gems.

    Oh, and btw, I've never been to any on my reunions. I think that there's only about four people from my entire class that I actually give a shit if I ever see again. So, there's that. I think my 25th is coming up in 2009. maybe I'll swing by that one, if I'm in the country.

  • At 9:32 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Steve, Your 25th is in 2009? Dang. You're just a pup! :)

    I'll keep going back just to see all of my classmates and I turn into gnarled old turtles.

    Glad you liked the cartoon thumb.

  • At 12:36 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry...yes! Wouldn't it be great to go back under different circumstances? Even just to hover over our old lives and whisper words of encouragement to our geeky teen-age selves.

    Thanks for the boost about the writing.

  • At 9:09 AM, Blogger Domhan said…

    " I was there with my sullen, arrogant, posing, more-fun-than-a-nostril-full-of-raw-liver husband..." Christ on a crutch, Candy. I snorted my "Free Monday McDonald's iced coffee" right through my sinuses when I read that. And then I read it five more times. With the same effect each time.

    My 30th HS reunion will be this Saturday night. Graduating class: 254. Those who'll the 30th: about 27. I have been on the committee to organize the reunions for the 20th, 25th, and this one. I make myself do this because I'm such an introvert, and besides, you would not BELIEVE the HS gossip you catch up on in the committee meetings! Ok, for example? While planning the 25th, I found out that a certain very handsome and married girls' coach was boinking four girls on the team he coached. I had no idea until 25 years later!

    So in planning for the 30th reunion, I learned that one committee member--a guy I dated briefly in HS--has a white hot hatred that started in elementary school for another committee member: a female who once tried to seduce my now SigOth (much to his stomach-churning dismay both at the time and when I bring up the subject now, 30 years later). And it's interesting how personalities and interpersonal skills have not changed much in 30 years. We are more tolerant of each other, but it seems as if we are the basic core people we were in HS. Sickening, isn't it?

    Many from my class, too, have remained in the area. I designed the reunion invitations and maintained the address list, and I was surprised that well over 100 classmates still live in the county of our high school. My first reaction was, "Geez, what a bunch of losers!" And then I realized....hey, I still live in this county. Damnit.

    And then there's the classmate who emailed the committee, first telling us that we needed to 1)update her address on our list, 2) that she's changed her name, 3) that she can't attend the reunion because she's involved in some big investment deal, and 4) that she hated high school so much that we shouldn't waste postage on her by sending her anymore reunion notices, so just remove her name from our list. I was wondering why she wasted our time with items 1 thru 3. Why not just get to #4 and shut up already? This is the same person who arranged it so that everyone at the 25th reunion knew she couldn't attend because she was vacationing at her summer home in the Hamptons. Yeah, she was a lying phony in high school, too.

    By the way, I am very frightened of your "stink eye" comin' thru my computer screen. More than you'll know.

  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Domhan...The chick with the "investment deal" and "vacationing in the Hamptons" gave me a good laugh.

    The sane members of my class are still trying to pinpoint the white-hot hatreds going on among those who refuse to join in our reindeer games. A significant part of the reunion is always spent in a "What the hell is HER problem" kind of discussion. And the mysteries remain mysteries.

    Thanks for the Domhan reunion report! I need to hear how it goes that night too.

  • At 9:31 AM, Blogger Norma said…

    candy, there is no way your 30th reunion is coming up! you definitely don't look it. will you come visit me and Bill since you're fairly close?

  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger Norma said…

    sorry just realized i said me and Bill....
    so annoying!

  • At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have to agree with most of the folks here that I HATED high school and don't really care if I see most of those people again. There are a few that I might like to visit with, but most of them weren't even in my class.

    My class had a five year reunion, but I was overseas and could not attend. I wondered what the point of that was anyway.

    I later learned that it was cancelled because very few people responded.

    By the time the ten year arrived, my parents had been long gone from town and I don't think anybody had my address. I never bothered to try to update it. And I don't think there was a ten year reunion. The next year, a friend that I occasionally keep in touch with via e-mail asked me if I was going to the eleven year reunion. I responded with a hearty "HELL NO!" For some reason, although she lives across the country, she seems to keep up with what everyone in high school is up to, even people from different classes that we never hung out with. Most of the time when she would e-mail me with some tidbit of information, I didn't even know who she was talking about.

    Next year will be my fifteen year reunion, if they choose to have one. I doubt that I will bother to attend, even though I am now within easy driving distance. Perhaps if my life depended on it I'd give it some thought. But even in that case, it would be a tough call.

    I didn't even want to attend my commencement ceremony, but my uncle was the school board president and was going to give me my diploma so I had to. There was a picture on the front page of the school newspaper of me sitting there in the front row practically scowling at having to waste another second on high school. I remember afterward all of these girls that I barely spoke to throughout school hugging me and crying and saying how much they'd miss me. I ran to my car, trying not to throw up.

    Wow, I sound like a bitch, don't I? I'm really not that bad of a person. Just something about high school....

    Candy, I love what you wrote about whispering "words of encouragement to our geeky teen-age selves."

    If I had only known how much all of that would not matter. Whenever I hear some snippet of news about people I knew in high school, it is rarely good news. Seems many of the kids who had it all back then have very unhappy lives now. I don't even have the heart to go back and see how bad they really are doing. I'm just thankful to have gotten out of there. Each time I go "back home," it feels less and less like home. And that is kind of sad, in a way, too.

    Now I have all kinds of conflicting emotions, so I must go and sort through them.

    I love and miss you, Candy! I hope you had fun at your reunion!

    Actually, I have just decided I WILL go to my reunion, but only if you'll go with me! Now THAT would be fun!

  • At 2:15 PM, Blogger Jinserai said…

    I snorted my "Free Monday McDonald's iced coffee" right through my sinuses when I read that. And then I read it five more times. With the same effect each time.

    You'd think she'd have learned by, oh, I don't know, maybe the 3rd time not to drink more coffee before re-reading the same line.

    The reunion thing was a blast, in my opinion. Granted, it was only my 10th, but the amusement value of walking up to someone I know had an obvious dislike for me, (not too hard to find. I was one of the punks) chatting them up like they're a long lost soulmate, watching their eyebrows wander about their foreheads in confusion and utter discomfort before wandering off to the bar in search of my next victim... that's fun you just can't find too many other ways.

  • At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ahem...Candy Rant. You're close to Terre Haute, and it's only August 6th so you must still be near. Anita, here...and folks, I've seen Candy make Andrew Hudgins blow corn from his nose...or at least one of us did. zzzzzzzzz I've never gone to a high school reunion, but I'd sure like to see you while you're near.

  • At 10:27 PM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    My 10th is coming up this Sept-- I'm going to DC instead. Yup-- that's how much I care.

  • At 11:41 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Wheeee! I go busy myself for a day and y'all have been partyin' down without me.

    Norma...Don't you dare annoy me again. Or I will assign you to the purgatory of a semi-eternal Harry Potter book party. In costume.

    Futuresis...Of COURSE you sound like a bitch. I feel like I'm looking into a mirror!

    Jinserai...Yes. I can picture you doing this to your poor classmates. Because you like to bother people. And then bother them some more. And when you're not bothering people, you think about how you're going to bother people. And that bothers me.

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

    Anita! Check your email!

    LD...your 10 year reunion? Jeez. You're not even to the point of seeing which classmates have had "work" done on their faces. It'll get more interesting in a couple of decades.

  • At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Being the spiteful old biddy that I am, I refused to attend my 10th. I guess I never really forgave my old classmates for making me feel so deeply unlikeable.

    Speaking of petty biddies, it was such a wonderful surprise to see you on campus last week, Candy! Visiting with you just made my day!

  • At 9:10 AM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    You'll appreciate this: My reunion invite just showed up in the mail. Boy did my HS do a great job--Right at the top it read "Your invited...."

  • At 11:52 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jackie O., I'm honored to be included on your biddy list, even though you're an embryo who should be punished mightily for being so young.

    LD, It always amazes me when ANY organization sends out a stupid mistake like that. And the wrong form of "your" is one of the most deeply annoying. I wonder how many of your classmates sat proudly nodding at their announcement before it went out. You need to have more babies, LD, to keep up with the bad spellers who are breeding like rodents.

  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    Do you know how fast rodents multiply?? Did you see me knocked up last time?? no thanks--

  • At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


  • At 7:48 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Look, Scott P, aren't you enough of a taskmaster at home??? Do you have to dog me on my blog, too? Hit the road, blog-dogger.

  • At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    m-yes, dear.

  • At 8:23 PM, Blogger Gail said…

    I moved from Atlanta to a very small town in Ohio when I was thirteen. Tragically shy, I still managed to have many great experiences in that town, but I never really was a true member. For the past 20 years, I have traveled some 600 miles to go to every reunion to watch videos of my graduating class in kindergarten together. I am, of course, conspicuously absent. They always seem happy to see me, but I'm still that distant cousin.

    My first reunion was the most memorable. I took my roommate who took to some woman's date. Said woman, hopelessly inebriated, blamed me for the indiscretions of her date and my roommate and punched me very unexpectantly full force in the face, loosening four teeth and releasing a full stream of blood onto my white silk suit. Very horrible. Very embarrassing. Yes, I returned the next year just to show my grit. She, however, has never been seen at another reunion. I feel bad for her. I forgive her and it's a painful, but now hilarious memory. We could probably have a laugh together.

  • At 8:49 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Gail. Oh my GOD. Unreal. What did the people around you do when that happened? You have some serious guts to go back. That is some kickass grit!

  • At 11:02 PM, Blogger Gail said…

    A friend's husband pulled her away as she was still swinging fully. Meanwhile,I stabled myself fom almost being knocked off of a balcony. Half in shock, I remember saying, "Wow, that really hurt!" unaware of my blood-spattered persona. People were outwardly sympathetic, but I was doubtful that they knew of my complete innocence in the whole affair. I figured I had to return if nothing else to dispel rampant rumors and to clear my good name:) Hah. The bad part was returning to my job with a busted lip and bruised face after begging for the time off. Yes, despite my best efforts for normalcy, I've managed to live the worst nightmare for all of us on this occasion and many more:)

  • At 11:47 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    That is a fantastic story. Right out of Dynasty, with Joan Collins fighting Linda Evans. !

    I can't even imagine what it was like going back to work all bludgeoned. You southern broads, even the transferred ones, are tough as ice picks!

    I've been trying desperately for normalcy my whole life. I gave up when I saw that I couldn't even get to the outskirts of it. Thanks for sharing your particular nightmare. I lived one at a reunion that I don't even have the guts to post.

  • At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Classmate: Like there's this magazine article I saw about how to decorate the inside of your husband's lunchbox. With fabric."

    Candy--if that's not best-seller stuff, if that doesn't make you the Cool Guys' (Guys-unisex sense) Erma Brombeck,then God didn't make the little green apples and it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime.

    And the little drop-down curtain...this is GOLD, kiddo.
    Tony from the B.

  • At 1:13 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Tony! Long time no talk! I keep attempting emails and they bounce back. Email me at my same old university account and I'll give you my new address.

    I miss you, dang it.


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