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July 1st, 2005

30-Year High School Reunion...

I worked "the early shift" (6AM - 2PM) from home today.

About a half-hour before finishing packing, I decided to frame my two ski pictures in the new frames I bought while in Chicago, so I could offer one to mom and dad and one to Vivian, while I see both of them tonight. While turning the glass wiping the Goo-Gone off it (thanks for putting those nice price stickers on the glass so they can rip apart when you peel them off), I sliced the hell out of my middle finger on my left hand. Deep

I squeezed the hell out of it trying to stop the bleeding, and starting thinking, "Lord, I hope this isn't going to require stitches. I have to leave in 20 minutes to pick up Irene at the airport, and I'm not even done packing. After about five minutes, it slowed down enough to wrap a band-aid around it tightly enough to turn the top of my finger purple.

Needless to say, this did not help the pace of my packing. "Limping along," I ended up leaving right at 2:00. On the way to the airport on I-40 East, I noted the bumper-to-bumper traffic already on I-40 West, which we would be on shortly.

I got there right at about 2:00, and decided to park, as I figured she probably had checked luggage, and I could get to baggage claim before she did. After parking closer to terminal A in the parking deck, and going to that baggage claim, I found out that some of the United flights come in to Terminal A, and others to Terminal C. Flights originating in Chicago, come in to Terminal C.

I crossed the tunnel to Terminal C (thank God they put that in), and found Irene at baggage claim. After retrieving her bags, using the restroom, and exiting the airport, we joined the fray on I-40. I actually expected the traffic to be bad all the way to the beach, at least as far on I-40 that we'd be going. However, once we got out of Raleigh, it wasn't bad at all.

We had big plans of listening to music and singing all the way home, but we ended up talking instead. Around Kenansville, we put in the Betty DeGeneres CD, and listened to a portion of it before turning it off to discuss it.

We talked about "coming out" and how it's not a one-time event, and then a lot about the person named "Beth" on the CD, who was a transgendered person.

I dropped Irene off at Maria's, had a nice hello with her, and went to Mom & Dad's. When I pulled up in the driveway, Mom & Dad's next door neighbor (a different one from the last time I was home), said, "Hi. Are you [the one] from Myrtle Beach?"

"No, I live in Raleigh," I said.

"oh yeah? Where in Raleigh?"

"Down by N.C. State," I said.

"You going to school there?"

"Well, I work at IBM during the day, but I am in Grad School at night," I replied.

"Oh, IBM. Do you know, uh, what's her name, someone named Mary Ann?" he asked. Then muttered, "Oh, what's her last name?"

"Um, I used to know someone named Mary Ann, but I don't know her last name," I said.

"Let me see, Mary Ann, um, Mary Ann, oh wait a minute, he'll know," he said motioning toward another neighbor who was heading our way.

"There's about 22,000 people out at IBM in Raleigh," I said trying to discouraging the pursuit of this, but to no avail.

After talking to the other neighbor, "Mary Ann Mock," he said expectantly, and hopeful.

"Nope, that doesn't ring a bell," I said.

I had a handful of my stuff by now, and as I started walking toward the house, he said, "Your mother's at bingo." This made me laugh, as I had called mom and dad on the way, and when I did, Dad said, "You mother's going to bingo."

"Oh yeah," I replied, "at what time?" I was thinking 6:00.

"Now," he said. It was about 3:30.

Dad was asleep on the chair when I opened the door, but woke up as I came in.

Vivian arrived about a half-hour later, and shortly after that we left for Applebees to have dinner before picking up Irene at Maria's. We had a quick, good dinner. We split a nachos appetizer and the Oriental Chicken Wrap entree. Good stuff.

On the way to Maria's I received a voice mail message from Irene that she had spilled something on ther blouse at her dinner with Maria, and that she would have to change and stuff back at Maria's. She'd said to just go on without her; she'd meet us there.

We stopped at the gate at the base to get a pass to get on. There was a short line, and after a few people had moved through, one of the MPs came out and asked, "Anyone going to the reunion?"

"We are," I said, and he came up, checked my driver's license and registration, and gave us a pass.

We paid our $5.00 each to get into Marston Pavilion, and then proceeded to stand in the corner not talking to anyone until Irene arrived. I saw a couple of people from my class, and asked Vivian if she remembered them.

As usual, with Vivian, we were laughing and laughing. We were all given leis when we came in, though that was about the only thing Hawaiian about the place. Whenever we pointed someone out to the other, we'd say, "Over there, in the red shirt, and the lei," or "There, with the short brown hair, and the lei." We crack ourselves up... and did.

We decided to quickly get alcohol in us, and got in the semi-long line for the bar. This cutest, short guy was in line behind us, and introduced himself to both of us. He was very touch-feely, and rubbing us both, which I was loving. He had a goatee, and looked like a jock.

After the normal, where are you from, what class did you graduate from (he was class of '91, the little young shit), he ended up buying mine and Vivian's drink by the time we got to the front. I noted that he was drinking Vodka (Smirnoff) and tonic, and later in the evening bought one for him, found him in the room with the DJ, and brought it to him. He was delighted.

Brender was one of the first people we talked to, and that was because she came up to us, though I hadn't seen her before she did. I certainly would've said hello to her. Hugs all around, and she gave me a purple bracelet that says, "CELEBRATE LIFE" on it, and thanked me for my donation to the Race for the Cure event. I really like it, and have been wearing it ever since.

The next time we were in the bar line, these two fun black guys behind us started talking to us. They were very nice. One of them mentioned being from Wilmington to which I replied, "Oh, I get to Wilmington on the weekends sometimes."

"Oh? Where do you go out to party when you're there?"

This was one of those instances that I'd discussed with Irene earlier in the car, about how gay people don't always "come out" just once -- it's a daily decision, when something comes up that if you respond to a certain way you're going to out yourself. So, you have to decide, "Am I going to answer honestly, or am I going to be evasive or outright lie?"

I decided in an instant, as I do, "Well, I'm gay, so I go to..." He finished my sentence at the same time as I did... "Ibiza."

He spoke of another bar there, where they do impersonations, and he said, "My stage name is Taj." The bar he mentioned is not one of the two gay bars I'm familiar with, and he didn't say "female impersonation," though I'm not sure "Taj" could be a man's name.

At any rate, it never was clear to me the entire night if he was gay or not. His friend was, presumably straight, as he was married with a couple of kids, I believe. Not that the being married part impresses me... after all, I was married for 16 years, and not at all straight.

We had a fun conversation as we waited our turn to order. When we got to the front of the line, we bought them drinks, and I walked away from them before Vivian. I didn't learn until later, that Vivian had said to them upon leaving, "Thanks for being so cool about my brother."

Eventually we took ourselves over to the '75 circle, and spoke to Lynn Cruickshank, who still has her devilish sense of humor; Terry Quinn, who still has an unfailing charm and sweetness about her not unlike Mary Tyler Moore; and Julie Corbin, who in high school had a horrible skin disease, which now, as an adult, I would guess was an extremely rare, and severe case of eczema, but looked "clear" to me now -- at least as much as I could see without staring or giving her "the once over."

I could still smell the medication that she obviously still wears, and like odor will often do, it took me back to those cruel, cruel days when people would whisper, "Flakes is coming," and too often, even calling her that to her face.

Teens can be cruel, and I guess most of us have some kind of abuse to deal with. While she was being called "Flakes," I was dodging a yell of "faggot" from Rick Web, who was also in attendance, but with whom I did not speak.

I spent some time not saying hello to Steve Lakin, which in hindsight I regret. We were never friends in high school -- he the quintessential "jock" and, me, the quintessential "band fag," but he has always been very nice to me once we do speak at these reunion intervals. This time was no exception.

Early in the evening, Vivian and I ran into Mary Ronzo, who is always a hoot to see. Though, we, as kids, were never very close friends, our fathers were -- and life-long military buddies, who, I imagine, shared some horrors of Vietnam that we'll never know -- so some bond carries on between their children. Someone took a couple of pictures of the three of us... hopefully we'll get a copy somehow. I gave her my email address.

The reunion went for 3 days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with Friday night consisting of the "Decade Parties," of which there were two -- if you graduated in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, you met where we were -- at Marston Pavilion. If you graduated in the 40s, 50s, or 60s, you went to the Officer's Club.

Since we went to school on the base, and people's dad's are traditionally only stationed somewhere for a couple of years, the graduating classes were small, and keeping in touch with such "mobile families" over the years was difficult, they open the reunions to anybody who went there (you didn't have to graduate from there) over the last 50 years. Otherwise the reunions would be very, very small.

Later in the evening, we hit the dance floor, where a lot of music from the 70's and 80s were playing. For one song, there were two girls on the floor dancing near each other, but it wasn't obvious if they were dancing together. I meandered out there to dance by myself.

After a minute or two, Todd, the guy in line behind us who knew about Ibiza, came out and danced next to me. That was cool.

This, again, made me wonder about his orientation, but in the grand scheme of things it really didn't matter. There was one other guy there, gorgeous, blond, tall, thin, whom people seemed to think was gay, and one or two people hinted that I should talk to him.

I thought that he was way out of my league, and I didn't know him in high school, so at the risk of it being awkward, just left it alone. I do know of several other people who "came out" after high school (no one was out during high school), and was disappointed that none of them came to the reunion.

Speaking of that, there was one gay teacher, who has never come out to this day, though anyone you'd ask if they thought he was gay would say yes, never showed up, which was very strange. He's been talking about the reunion, and how excited he was to be seeing everyone soon, so I can't quite figure out why he didn't make the decade party. I haven't spoken to anyone who stayed for the whole weekend to see if he showed up for the events on Saturday -- I'm sure he must have.

Eventually, the Electric Slide came on, and we had a full dance floor for that, and it was a lot of fun. Vivian and I relived some "disco dancing" from our days in college together, and they were "fresh" in our memories from Jeff's 50th last weekend.

On the way out, Anita asked me for a ride back to the hotel, to which I said, "Sure, let me round up Irene, and we'll go."

"I'm going to go out front and smoke a cigarette. I'll meet you out there," she said.

After about 10 minutes of trying to drag Irene out of there, we laughed our way to the car, and were almost off the base when I remembered, "Shit! We forgot Anita!"

I don't know how she didn't hear us out front when we came out. I'm hoping she had already hitched a ride with someone else. If not, she wanted a ride to the hotels where all of the 70s people were staying, so I'm sure she was taken care of. God, I hope so.



This is what my Arbitron diary consisted of today:

Start
Stop
Duration
Call Letters
Dial Setting
AM
FM
At Home
In a Car
At Work
Other Place
13:0513:5045 minsWQDR94.7 X X   
14:0614:093 minsWUNC91.5 X X   
14:0914:156 minsWQDR94.7 X X   
14:4515:4560 minsWQDR94.7 X X   
16:3017:0333 minsWQDR94.7 X X   
17:1217:2816 minWQDR94.7 X X   

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