Monday, October 15, 2012

Party Like Its 1992

I went to my husband's 20 year high school reunion this past weekend. In preliminary discussions, it had been decided that I was not "worth" the cost of an extra ticket and a babysitter. Per our agreement on such matters, there were no hurt feelings because I heartily agreed. I'd much rather send him off to reminisce while I stayed home to watch movies. I'm still a season and a half behind on Doctor Who and two behind on Torchwood. I'd much rather spend the evening with Captain Harkness than Captain Morgan. But, in the end, my designated driver status got me elevated to "and guest."

At the hotel (where we picked up some out-of-town friends who rightly refused to ride the party bus), I could already tell that my choice of clothing was inappropriate. While I looked cute (for me), and had even managed to put on eye makeup and lipstick, I had apparently forgotten that I was in Jersey. While big hair and Aquanet are gone (but not forgotten), micro-minis, hooker heels, and cheap fabrics in bright colors never go out of style. These women needed puppy pads to sit down lest they catch a communicable disease before they stood back up. Before we had even left for the event, I was already shooting my husband the side-eye.

I think the first apology was given when we pulled up to the venue. While on paper, the E-Lounge sounded at least relatively benign, in reality, the E was for the name of the town and the lounge part was just a pseudonym for fire hall. The giveaway was the fire truck you had to walk past to get to the second floor. The space was decorated entirely in low, flat white couches, and cubed, light-up coffee tables. All of the tables were lit in different neon colors, the servers trays flashed and glowed, and there were strobe lights. It was an epileptics' nightmare. There were also photo booths that must have come equipped with wind machines because every woman came back out fixing their hair and tugging down their hems. I wasn't going in there without a set of Clorox wipes. And of course, there was the gallery of dead people. Or, in this case, a cheap poster board with five photos cut and pasted straight out of the high school yearbook. Didn't any of the senior class scrap book?

I headed for the dark recesses of the room while my husband headed straight for the bar. Smart man. When the server came around with the first tray of passed hors d'oeuvre, I asked if there was a buffet dinner as there didn't seem to be a separate dining area. Her reply? Nope. To be clear, this was a $65 per person event, not a basement kegger. Miniature food served on pointy sticks was dinner and a scant meal it was. In fairness, a crudités table did eventually make an appearance, but for some strange reason, all the food was served in tall vases. Have you ever tried to use a pair of tongs to get sliced cucumber out of a two-foot tall receptacle? It cannot be done without flinging vegetables hither and yon. The sum of food put out for the entire reunion could be purchased in two pre-made platters from the local warehouse club of choice. By the time the sheet cake came out, we practically mugged a server to get a slice. My friend and I (another abandoned wife of a graduate) each took one bite then put the plate down. How bad do you think the cake had to be for a hungry fat woman to refuse it? How bad did it have to be for a hungry drunk to almost spit it out? Very bad indeed.

Over the course of four hours, my husband got increasingly drunk and I got increasingly snarky. The bartenders, when they could manage to make a drink without looking at the Bartender's Bible, had a very generous pour. (Hell, I would too since all the money for the tickets was obviously spent on alcohol.) I didn't have to ask if my husband was drinking Captain and Cokes, I could smell them before he sat down. The combination of no food and plenty of liquor meant that I had a front row view to the depravity that is a gaggle 38-yr olds gone wild. I rolled my eyes so often and so far back that I thought I was going to lose a contact lens. The DJ must have only brought four CDs with him because he played in order: an hour of 80's, an hour of Glee soundtracks, an hour of wedding music, and an hour of dance music. He also played Piano Man in the beginning of the night, when everyone knows you play it at the end so everyone can howl along. There were group dance numbers. (To the left, to the left.) There was grinding. There were bitchy speeches. There were downward dog positions that should never be seen out of a yoga room being performed, with reckless abandon, by drunk women wearing sensible shoes. It was a bloody nightmare. At one point, I thought I was about to witness a first lesbian experience, right there on the dance floor. People sang along to Journey without a hint of irony. When Vanessa William's Save the Best For Last came on as the final song, I might have accidentally screamed "Oh My Fucking God" at the top of my lungs while making violent knife motions with my fist.

My husband, luckily, was well aware that the entire event was a bust and when we weren't making each other laugh out loud with rude comments, he was coming up with increasingly extravagant ways to pay me back for sitting through it all. Sadly, none of the suggestions of tickets to Wicked, a ring, a car, or even the purchase of my own Barnes & Noble store were remembered the next morning. Since he spent the entire evening double fisting, most people with his blood alcohol content would not have remembered the night at all. However, my husband has a superpower. He can metabolize alcohol at four times the human rate. Once, at a friend's wedding, I witnessed him drink for 12 straight hours only to wake up cheerful and well-rested meanwhile I, who had two glasses of wine at the cocktail hour, needed to be helped into the shower. After the reunion, I did help him out a bit by making a run to Mickey D's after dropping off the sitter. I think the late-night meal of salted cardboard made the crucial difference between suffering through my daughter's investiture ceremony at church the next morning and enjoying it.

Obviously, I will be holding this evening against him for the rest of his natural born life. Like a Christian who converts to Judaism for love, "I went to your reunion" is going to be my version of "I gave up Jesus." The knowledge will always be there.

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