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What is my news? Well, since graduating,I've raked it in and I've tossed it off,I've plucked the green peach and sodded the pitch.That is, aside from noticing the moonshimmering on saw-bladed ferns in redwoodgroves, I have learned two valuable lessons:always floss, and nobody wants to seeyour collection of shot glasses. Mercy.I did not cry when Henry Blake died, thoughI died every time Kinch deferred to LeBeau.'That is so you!' I'm sure we'll hear that: 'Youwere locked up nine months for passing bad cheques?That is so you!' Of course, my high school bandnever made the big time, never backed upThin Lizzy on their 'Boys are Back!' bus tour.Maybe our band name, Wee Willie Nelson,doomed us and I regret insisting on it,regret writing it in Magic Markeron the ass of my best acid-wash jeans.I enrolled at Buford Business Collegeand just let the cocktails do the talking,left the academy under green cloudsof vodka slosh and ended up workingon the busy side of the phone: 'But, sir,your agreement says you should pay us now.'Today, I supervise a fleet of youngphone hawks in both technique and bafflegab.Admiral, that is just so you. Romancecame around for me more frequentlythan Ernest movies and, alas, was almostas annoying. There was Becky Plover(do you know if she'll be reunioning?)who wrote poetry about fast horsesand father figures in undershirts.It was a miracle she was with me,always pressing for what she called 'the truth,'as long as the truth never again involveda story that ends 'whacking off with Hazmatmitts.' Who know she'd serialize novelsabout the hot hot sexual awakeningsof Toronto: 'She kissed his smooth tanned chestand felt free.' O my asthmatic princess,wringing your hands, your knock-off purse fullof neatly printed scheduled coffee dates.Then there was salty Kathleen, who thrivedon confrontation, who grew with each'piss off!,' who sprawled on rank sofasand drank Pepsi while sitting in the tub.Thank God she won't be there! I can see hercoming through the gym doors like a tankthrough the palace gates in Saigon, flyinghigh on her own mix of Jägermeisterand milk, screaming, 'Where is that stupid fag?'And, finally, Pamela who I usedto love but who now says she has to tryto work things out with her husband. I askedand she just laughed, saying, 'I really lovereunions, except for the part aboutmurder being a crime.' That is so her.'It's been so long,' they'll say before turningto say, 'It feels like only yesterday.'My father thought the best way to fightheart disease was to simply ignore sister yelling about his yellow pills.I'm not so sure his approach wasn't wise;my mother sits patiently by herself,makes her own tea, her own little cheese plate,and still laughs when a TV ad begins'Do you have diarrhea?' Through the years,while the economy boomed and bulldozed,while computers made life much easierfor secretaries and Jar Jar fans alike,while doctors fought AIDS and cancer of the neck;while populations across the globe soaredand citizen geeks fought to save marshlandand limit greenhouse gasses for the sakeof the dooming tear in the ozone, whilegeneticists promised the dawn of the cloneand the Hubble Telescope took picturesof galaxies that folded neatly intoother galaxies, I took time to perfectthe art of the bummed smoke, the hindered dream,the delayed comeback zinger, the late lunch,the jealous funk, the revenge fuck, hollowvows, saggy jowls, long happy hours,debit cards, loose-fitting pants, nighttime soaps(don't bring up the past), the hyena's laugh,blaming it all on nice people like you.That was me in your medicine cabinet.That was me hanging up just as you pickedup the phone. What's the theme of the reunion?'Always and Forever: This is Us!' or'May God save us from more remakes ofPlanet of the Apes?' It'll just turn outeverybody's all dressed nice, showing offhow our spouse taught us not to say 'nothink.'Spruced from long apprenticeships in the mallsand cubicles since we left sweet Hoodlum High,we know how to deny the neighbourhood.Good guys all, we'll hear, all shy and quiet,nerds and geeks who forgive the only schoolin the state to be closed due to 'benzenepoisoning.' We'll transform poor to cute-poor -cartoon-Brooklyn poor or Rydell High poor.Will there be awards? I'd like to see that.Can I put my name up for Most ImprovedSense of Persecution? Naturally,the award for Most Exactly Where WeAll Thought They'd Be has to go to CharlieG., who smashed his Chevette into a pole.Would I see that guy--you know, the guy I oncepunched in the stomach for five delinquentdollars--get up, fight the piercing feedbackof the microphone, accept his lame prizeas Nicest Guy, and weep for 'the best timesof our lives'? I'm sure Nicey's all set up:probably doing lines off a whore's thighwhile the whore's tax attorneys look on.I will be at the reunion. I will danceto T'Pau and I will do impressionsof old teachers 'til they pry me off the bar.But there will come a time when it gets dark.The lights against the wall will hypnotize.In frosted mirrors behind the PernodI will see couples dancing and realize,for me, partying's no different than waitingfor a late flight out of Newark: despitethe sequined dress of yearned-for Sasha-May,despite the welcoming handshakes, I optfor the vampire who lives behind the wall;he has leather chairs and a rifle range,a pet tiger he likes to call Earl,a desk into which to carve the words It's over.Alone, I'll smell the factories againand retrace the steps to the shops of my youth,where they sold candy made out of petroleumand just one brand of soft, gleaming white bread.I'll see shiny elbows on my sport coatand, just like that, all attendees will seemlike fat rich kids on ponies. They never askif the pony's back is sore, they onlysay, 'I wanna lollipop!' Wouldn't itbe great if the nicest girl, and I meanthe most legendary Jesus-Loves-Me queen,showed up all divorced and brandy-weary?And if we excused ourselves to some long-loststoner's enclosure made for bra-strapfiddling, and we'd satirize everything,including, Sasha-May, including myown dreams of a one-off and, looking inher green eyes I'd say, ."we better get back,'just as the band returned to play ."Footloose.''I thought that was more of an encore,'I'd say, tucking my shirt into my belt,and sensing our shared booby-prize despair,she'd take my hand and gently remind:'Koo-Koo, the nice thing about crawlinginto the woodwork is staying there.'

© McGimpsey David