“It is good to laugh. Laughter is spiritual relaxation.” Baha’i
I received a short questionnaire for publication in the Camelback High School, class of 1963 reunion book. For “memories” I wrote: “Secret crushes (I would never have admitted it then) Bill Nelson . . . “
Bill was (and I assume, still is) charismatic, smart, sang beautifully and had a wonderful sense of humor. I ADORED Bill.
We were both very involved in student government, spent a lot of time concocting skits and pranks for school assemblies, planning school activities . . . like dances. He rarely, maybe never, asked me to dance at the dances (almost no boy did but that’s another post) so the closest I came to physical contact was when he threw me over his shoulder in a comedy skit for a school assembly – physical pain, emotional nirvana.
Looking back, I was popular in high school. Just not “popular” in the way girls wanted to be . . . Bill treated me like a good FRIEND – damn! – and having NO clue how to flirt or give ANY cues I was “available” I treated him the same – damn!
Thus lies the back story for what I now share about my 50th high school reunion. OH What a Night!
Here are highlights:
Our eyes lock across the crowded room. 1,000 of the 500 students in my Camelback High graduating class, recede to the perimeters. (Perhaps my glaucoma is worse than I was told). My heart beats faster and faster (my pacemaker kicks in) and as the air is sucked out of the room, my stomach sucks in (I didn’t have to wear a “support garment” after all).
Bill & Me – stupefied onlookers, Kay (Wester) and Charlotte (Mills)
THERE HE IS, Bill Nelson, my high school secret crush! The boy I worshipped secretly from afar for 4 years. If only I had been “man enough” to tell him in high school, if only he had been a “man” . . . we run toward each other in slow motion (my joint pain vanishes – maybe it’s the slow motion?) “Bill, Bill, Bill,” I murmur as we hug . . . passionately. “Why didn’t you ever ask me out? Why didn’t you love me back?” But in this moment in time there is no need for words, touch tells me we are destined to be together.
“Judy, this is my wife, . . ..” My heart stops, my pacemaker paces (miracle of modern medicine) my stomach drops to the floor (it’s a good thing, after all, I’m wearing a “support garment”). I squint (it’s hard to see in the dimly lit room without my glasses). Mrs-Bill-Nelson smiles broadly and reaches out. I’m not sure if she said something gracious or not since the audible sound of catching my breath reverberates throughout my skull. “Pleased to meet you”, I mumble.
Miraculously from the podium, I hear my name: “When Judy talked in class I listened. She was so smart, so astute, so genuine, so wise, so kind, so loving, so compassionate . . . (I think he forgot beautiful BUT, no matter, his memory probably isn’t what it used to be). He goes on and on for what seems like a lifetime.
Mike Bewley, the M.C. of the night, successful lawyer . . . my thoughts racing now as fast as my pace maker can pace: He MUST be successful because he collects modern art (I LOVE modern art); FREE legal counsel (my client’s records have just been subpoenaed); He’s filled out rather nicely; handsome; debonair; I LOVE his self-deprecating humor combined with an air of confident authority.
I can’t feel the ground as I walk in slow motion towards Mike, away from what’s-her-name-Mrs-Bill-Nelson. A hush stills the air. All eyes are on me, watching with bated breath. My heart pounding, pounding in my chest (Good that I remembered to pack my cardiologists phone number with my blood pressure monitor) My heart beats faster and faster (my pacemaker kicks in again) as the air is sucked out of the room and my stomach returns from the
Mike & Me
We share the podium and the microphone, Mike Bewley and I, as if we are one. Looking into each other’s eyes he flashes a PERFECT smile silently acknowledging the forever bond we share – both of us wearing braces all 4 years of high school. He continues, on and on and on . . . passionately, unabashedly declaring his worship of me OUTLOUD to all in the room. Our classmates smile knowingly.
My prize . . . of the night
“Judy, you have won a prize”! Mike announces, his voice booming. “Just go to the gift table behind me and pick any package you want”. I choose the smallest package. It will fit in my luggage. (A magnifying glass . . . I can use another one.)
As my 50th reunion is coming to an end I turn to leave. A tall, imposing, yet gentle, man blocks my way. “Judy, it’s Terry. Stop! Don’t go! I have to see you before you leave.” I look up into his eyes . . . soft, kind. Who is this man? My misty eyes blindly searching for his name tag . . . Terry? Terry? Terry? I can feel my brain searching, searching its data banks. Terry, Terry, Terry . . . my head still swimming with the pain of unrequited love.
Of course! TERRY Gardner, retired dentist: Smart, successful, (enough money to be retired); the man who took time to write ME a PERSONAL invitation – It was obvious he had painstakingly searched through all the year books to find MY pictures; to write a PERSONAL invitation desperately hoping I would attend the reunion. With laser focus my mind retrieves the picture of Terry on the invitation – Terry, flashing a big grin sitting on a motorcycle – a combination of power, strength, adventure (I don’t think he was wearing any gang insignia).
“Judy, I read your post about receiving my invitation and shared it with my wife. She thought it was funny”. I
Terry & What’s-her-name-Mrs-Terry-Gardner. I could SWEAR SHE was NOT in the original picture he sent ME.
don’t remember anything about a wife . . . He’s definitely a biker . . . probably not an adulterer . . .
I pick up my luggage when I arrive at the Orange County airport terminal. My husband is waiting for me at the curb. He smiles when he sees me. “I missed you. How was the reunion”?
“It’s was ok: Hardly anyone danced; the food was so-so; I ate one of each kind of dessert but they weren’t as good as I hoped.”
“Are you glad you went?” he asks without waiting for reply, “We didn’t have a chance to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary before you left. What would you like to do?”
I’m so confused. I hope it isn’t a sign of aging . . .
Full Disclosure & Disclaimer:
- Names have NOT been changed as NO one, any longer, is innocent.
- Small details may not be 100% accurate as research indicates that time can affect memory and the reunion was 4 days ago.
- Parenthetical remarks are fully documented and on file.
- No apologies to anyone I might have offended – I’m approaching 70 and too tired to care . . . anymore . . .
P.S. Sending my unabashedly public love to ALL my classmates of 1963
click here for my High School Reunion post #1