The Great Plotnik

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Jock-Cheerleader-Brain Trust Ruling Axis, Part One

This story was filed from the San Fernando Vally'nzuela by Dak Dumbutton, Great Plotnik High School Reunion Correspondent.

The Jock-Cheerleader-Brain Trust Ruling Axis

Part One: Kiss Fifty

It was a small High School Reunion on a Friday night, in a hotel party room with seven round tables on one side set with white tablecloths and linen napkins, and a small bar in the middle with one bartender in a red Marriott jacket standing behind it. Someone had hung a banner on the wall that said "Delirians 1963."

I handed my drink ticket to the bartender. His tip cup was plastic and cracked on one side. I stuck a dollar in it.

"Cold beer?" I said.

"Yes sir," he said, reaching into a bucket for a Heineken and setting it on the bar after removing the cap.

"Thanks," I nodded and turned to my right. I had been conscious of a small woman in a white dress standing next to me at the bar but hadn't seen her face yet, and anyway, after not setting eyes on any of these people in the fifty years since we'd all graduated from Buckingham High, seeing faces meant nothing. It was all about name tags.

I turned, she said "You're here!" and reached her arms around my neck and kissed me. I had spent the last half hour wondering why I'd bothered coming to this stupid reunion in the first place, but now, as the kiss continued, I was conscious of two things:

One, I still hadn't seen who it was, but

Two, I remembered these lips. They were a little soft, maybe I'd call them chewy? and filled me with a kind of well-being, a special old-timey taste from back home, one I clearly hadn't forgotten.

I knew my wife was standing there but I was into this kiss. "Mmmm," the little woman murmured. My arms were around her waist now and I might have pulled her a little closer. I knew who it had to be, but I needed to be sure. So I broke away and stared at her face, doing what everyone in the room had been doing all night long -- a long smile of non-recognition, then a furtive, slashing glance at the name tag we had all attached to our shirts or blouses.

"Addie!" I said. "Dang, it's good to see you."

"I'd hoped you'd come," she said and laughed as she encircled my neck with her arms again. "I'm glad my husband isn't here."

"Uh huh," I said.

"Twenty seven years, two kids," she said.

"I was looking at your picture last night in the Yearbook," I said.

"You were?" she said, smiling that pretty smile that was the first thing I'd noticed about her, back when she wore a headband and was rounder too, very pleasantly so. Now, she was exercise-class thin.

"Yes," I said. "I was showing my wife pictures of the people I had hoped would come to the reunion tonight."

"Your wife?" she said.

"Yes, she's Darbra, this is Adeline. Addie."

Darb had been watching this kiss, in amazement, along with the bartender, who had shook his head and mixed her a powerful gin-and-tonic. Darb shook Addie's hand. I could she hadn't matched Addie's face to the stories I had told her, about Addie's mom who was so disabled that she lived in a box they kept on the sofa in the front room, about her father who would lurch into the room and scream hateful obscenities at the mom in the box, like "why the hell do you just lie there, DAMMIT woman, get UP," the father who one day filled up my mom's '59 Chevy convertible with water from his garden hose while I walked inside to pick up his daughter for a date.

And I hadn't remembered to match Addie's photo to her lips, the ones I had spent a lot of time memorizing in the months after we graduated, before the night she set up a double date at the beach, the two of us plus her best friend Marisol and my best friend Speedy. I had forgotten all this. I had forgotten that was how I met Marisol, a high school beauty who became my girl friend for several years, the one I threw Addie over for, the one my family was sure I would marry, the one who followed me up to Berkeley the year afterwards, first telling Addie she was going to marry me before the year was out. Until the reunion I didn't know any of that, and I didn't know Marisol had also told Addie that I had broken up with her because she was too stupid for me. I winced when Addie told me that. 

Eventually I ran from Marisol too. But that was later, when I was running from everybody.

Darb hadn't met Addie before the reunion, but she had met Marisol, in New York, and she also met Carly, the geneticist I ran into in Mexico the summer before Marisol arrived in Berkeley. Carly replaced Marisol and inadvertently paved the way for Darb, because my parents hated the ultra-Catholic Carly so much that a beautiful, professional and classy woman like Darb, who though not Jewish was also not anorexic, sounded like a deal, knowing their son, that they had better grab onto. 

Darb actually enjoyed talking to Addie. I enjoyed kissing her. My wife was the prettiest woman in the room and I didn't look so bad either. And there you have my Fiftieth High School Reunion.



At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops! Check those names in that last paragraph :-)

At 9:52 PM, Blogger DAK said...


At 9:53 PM, Blogger DAK said...



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