“The best I can remember. That’s tough.”
“I hear you. It was a long time ago, but come on, you know those memories are indelible.”
“I suppose so. You want the best worst memory I have or the best best memory?”
“Your choice. Just tell me the best memory you have from high school aside from getting out of there.”
“I actually mostly liked it, but what I didn’t like was the time Julie Lavender told Brad Murphy I said I wanted to fuck the whole football team.”
“I remember that. You were so pissed. All the guys were hitting on you and none of the girls would talk to you. Even the teachers heard about it and treated you differently.”
“It was horrible. You say one thing, and then it gets retold and by the time it makes the rounds its totally different.”
“Yeah, you just wanted to fuck the backfield.”
“Just the first string.”
“Right. My worst was actually something that happened away from school, but which completely changed my life.”
I was curious to hear what that might be. But the hotel check in line was moving quickly and I had a hunch I wasn’t going to find out what happened away from school that changed her life. I did remember when that rumor went around, but not being a football player, I didn’t pay much attention. Rumors and reputation where a big thing back when we were in high school. In fact, a good part of why I decided to come to my 20th reunion was to clean up some damage that had been done to me just before graduation.
Thursday June 20, 1985
When the second reunion invitation came in the mail I thought about throwing it away, but I hesitated. I purposefully hesitate a lot. It’s mostly been good for me, but I’m not altogether sure.
I know some things have come out of my mouth without thinking that I’ve had to spend a lot of time and energy cleaning up. Not always to the best effect. If you’ve happened to read any of my books you know I tend to push things. I’m not good at foreplay. When I’m not good at something I try to avoid it.
You could say if I spent more time focusing on foreplay I would get better at it. You’re right, which is why I’m hesitating more. I’m trying slow down, be in the moment. Look before I leap.
I don’t consider myself a reunion kind of guy. But a couple of months ago I’d gotten the first invitation to Pacific Palisades Class of 1965 20th Reunion. I didn’t think I’d go, but one night I had nothing to do so I filled out the RSVP which had a lot of annoying invasive questions which I didn’t necessarily answer truthfully.
I don’t have any friends from Pali that I see in my personal life. The one oldest friend I have is from grade school, but high school not so much. There’s a reason I don’t have any friends from high school that I’m about to share, which will help explain why I hesitated about whether to go but ultimately decided to attend.
There was one guy I didn’t want to see. A few I would prefer not to see. A woman who’d I enjoy seeing and one I very much wanted to see. I could do all those things without going to a reunion, but the forces to be seemed to saying this was the time and this was the place.
The second invitation came yesterday and invited me to 3 reunion events: a reunion weekend pre-party Thursday night, a Saturday 5:00pm meeting and a Sunday brunch. The pre-party was being held at the home of the one guy I didn’t want to see. All three invites were for members of the Bridge Club and specifically excluded their friends and partners.
Yes, that was the nerd alert alarm you heard. I was a member of the Bridge Club. Growing up my parents, sister and I spent many a night at the dining room table playing bridge. We moved from New York to Los Angeles when I was 15 and for a while there, until we formed our own relationships, we all spent many nights together. When I started to meet people at my new school one of the guys invited me to come over to his house and play cards with him and his friends. And thus was born the Bridge Club. By the time we graduated there were twelve of us in the club.
We didn’t get our picture in the yearbook. We weren’t that nerdy. But we weren’t that rowdy either. We were just a group of guys, only one of which had a girlfriend, who along with two other girls without boyfriends, got together on the weekend so we wouldn’t be home alone. We moved the games from house to house, but mostly we played at Alan’s house because his parents owned a deli so there was always good food. We didn’t drink. We didn’t smoke. We played cards, watched sports and bonded.
Until I fucked things up.
We hadn’t spoken since graduation but my personal invite from Alan had his address so at least one person wanted me there. I wasn’t sure why as he was the one guy I really didn’t want to see who probably felt the same about me. Maybe it was partly because I couldn’t spot his house from the street. Just the gate. If he wanted to taunt me with his success it was working. He lived in a large mansion.
There are some things you ought to know about me. I’m competitive. I try to act like I’m not. I sure as hell wasn’t going to let Alan know that his financial good fortune bothered me. I wanted him to think I was happy for him. And I almost was. Just as long as he wasn’t obnoxious about it.
We all know money doesn’t buy happiness. Just a big house and all that goes with it. But guys are taught that the one with the most money gets the best girl. It’s not true, but it’s not entirely untrue. Especially if you just take in appearances. And, living in LA, how you appear is a big deal. Alan appeared to be living the good life.
I suppose when it comes to reunions we all want to see who looks good and who doesn’t. Who made it big and who didn’t and what kind of changes time has brought.
Another thing you ought to know about me. The Bridge Club had seven white guys, one kid born in India, one guy who was born and lived in France till his parents moved to LA his sophomore year, and three white girls. We all graduated and left high school to go to college. I probably had the worse GPA in the group as my high school experience was not what you would call college worthy.
I’m at a write’s crossroad here. I want to give you some of the backstory to help put the rest of the story in perspective. But, one of my closest friends keeps telling me I gotta get into the action quicker. For a guy that prefers to skip foreplay you’d think I would just jump ahead and get into the action.
I’m going to skip ahead so my friend will at least like this part of the book, (although he’ll still say I waited too long). Then once we get into the action I’ll slip in some back story to help put everything in some context.
The dead body was in the study. Slumped over the desk. It looked like it could have been Colonel Mustard in the study with a big bump on his head. But it was Frank and while I never liked him all that much he was a good card counter and a reliable bridge partner. Not so sure his reliability extended to other matters.
I wasn’t sure what to do about Frank. I knew not to touch him or anything, but wasn’t sure if I ought to share the news or let someone else be the barer of bad tidings. Normally I would want the bonus points that come with knowing something before others, but since Frank was one of the guys I wasn’t looking forward to seeing I wasn’t sure if finding him slumped over like that would be in my best interests.
Some might say I held a grudge and given the chance I evened an old score. I wouldn’t say that, but why have to say anything? I could just slip downstairs and join the throng and share the surprise with others when someone else discovered him.
I was nervous about being about here. Not just because of the body. I was nervous before I got here. I’m not much of a small talker, have little interest in it, but was curious about what had happened so many years ago that so soured everyone on me. While I like to think I have built up my communication skills I had a hunch some of those conversations would be challenging.
The invitation said to come on by any time after 8:00pm I procrastinated about leaving home, got stuck in traffic and by the time I opened the door at 8:45 and heard the Beach Boys blaring I Get Around, I thought I better leave. I nodded to a couple of people and made a beeline for a bathroom. The door was locked so I climbed the stairs to find another.
I didn’t really need to go. I was hiding. After I took a few deep breaths and had a quick talk with myself in the mirror I stepped out. I ambled down the hallway, peeked at some of the rooms and had the misfortune of finding Frank. I wasn’t as unfortunate as him, but I wasn’t overly concerned with his feelings.
One thing about having a big fancy mansion is it often comes with a couple of staircases. One in the entry and the one in the back for the help. I hightailed it towards the back of the house in hopes of finding a less public re-entry to the party.
I’m not sure my descent went undetected. The back steps came down right next to the kitchen where a fair amount of help was toiling away. Nobody said anything to me, but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t say something to someone else.