Sunday, December 09, 2001

Class reunion better virtual than real

My high school classmates are conveniently scattered all over the country. Most of our parents stayed back home, so they kept us apprised of each other's real and imagined accomplishments, omitting details such as baldness, malfeasance in office, morbid obesity and delinquent children.

        This was a fine arrangement for many years.

        Then we all got computers and started surfing the Internet. The boys connected first, which is understandable because they still had their original names. But if you knew how to look, you could find hyphenated women and those who had reclaimed the names they were born with. Pretty soon, our e-mails were coed.

        It was a virtual class reunion. Perfect, really, because you didn't have to buy a new dress or explain what happened to your former nose.

Downsized, oversized

        The chat centered around our children, who — in the tradition established by our own parents — were uniformly handsome, beautiful and accomplished. And we hit the high points of our own lives.

        “I started my own company,” from a downsized classmate. I felt sorry for her until I learned that her “little company” does about $2 million in business every year, and “company policy” allows her to bring her grandchildren to work so her daughter can go back to college full time. But, she confided, “I'm a little plump now.”

        Women of my generation are still liberating ourselves from lots of things, but not that. And we are running, but not for president. Even after all this time.

        “I'm thinking of running in a marathon,” I e-mailed to a woman who was the high school equivalent of a sex symbol — a varsity cheerleader. I did not add that I am thinking of running in a marathon right around the time Reebok invents an automatic running shoe.

        What the heck, it wasn't as if we were going to see each other any time soon.

        Then some troublemaker — it could be the woman who teaches yoga and married a cosmetic surgeon — started talking about a real reunion. One where we'd have to bring our spare tires and extra chins.

        Alan, who was a football player and widely admired as the boy with the most sweaters in the senior class, confided: “I'm not going. I don't think I can lose 150 pounds by next summer.”

        Feeling kind of like a cheerleader myself, I wrote back: “Hey, buddy, nobody's perfect. We could find highly skilled personal trainers and literally aerobicize our buns off. Or we could just hire underwear models to go and wear our name tags.”

A note from Mom

        He answered: “Greg is out of jail and says he's going to get a note from his mother saying he's sick. My mother won't lie. But I have a plan.”

        Alan says he'll just put on an expensive dinner jacket, rent a limo and hire a couple of gorgeous call girls to pose as his dates. He'll get somebody to phone him every 10 minutes and pretend he's closing important business deals.

        This plan will work. For him. But not for the cheerleader.

        She could show up in a limousine driven by Brad Pitt. She could be talking to George W. Bush on her cell phone and have the Pope on hold. She could have a Nobel Prize in one hand and a Pulitzer in the other. And somebody would say, “Geez, she's gained a few pounds, hasn't she?”

        Some things haven't changed.

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