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High School Reunion: The Big 5-Oh!

By Jerry Zezima

There is a saying among people of a certain age (67, which is the new 47) that we’re like fine wine: We’re not getting older, we’re getting better.

This adage was proven beyond a reasonable doubt — even though there is doubt that I have ever been reasonable — at my 50th high school reunion, where I drank some mighty fine wine and my wife, Sue, won two bottles of the stuff.

Sue and I attended Stamford Catholic High School, Class of 1971, where Sue was the epitome of class and I was the class clown.

So when it came time to get together with fellow classmates to mark half a century since we graduated, we headed to our hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, for a weekend of fun, frolic and — with apologies to Marcel Proust, an author I was supposed to read in high school but never did — remembrance of things past.

The reunion committee, headed by Vivian Vitale, did a tremendous job of coordinating the event, which drew about 100 people. They included Hank Richert, who was my college roommate for three years and was the best man at my wedding to Sue, as I was at Hank’s wedding to his wife, Angela, who didn’t go to Catholic High but, as Hank’s guest, added wit and elegance to the proceedings. They are dear friends we hadn’t seen in a long time.

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, Sue and Angela looked beautiful. Hank and I looked almost respectable. Everyone else looked good, too. And this wasn’t astigmatism talking. Or even the wine.

“It’s a shame that our kids are getting older but we’re not,” I told one classmate. “I feel sorry for them, but what are you going to do?”

The reason I couldn’t identify him was that, at first, I didn’t know who he was. That’s because, the evening before the reunion, we attended a meet-and-greet at Zody’s 19th Hole, a great restaurant where, unfortunately, there were no name tags for us to identify other attendees.

“You don’t know who I am,” a second guy said to me.

“Do you know who you are?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Prove it,” I said.

He pulled out his wallet and showed me his police badge (he’s a retired cop), which had his name.

“You’re Bob Shawinsky,” I told him.

“That’s right!” he said.

“See?” I announced triumphantly. “I do know who you are.”

I’m lucky he didn’t arrest me. But we did have some laughs, a sure sign of our arrested development.

Another guy, Don Sabia, gave me his business card, which contained his alleged occupation: “Consigliere.”

I kissed his ring.

It was a fantastic evening, but the best was yet to come.

The following night, we had the reunion at the Stamford Yacht Club, which went all out for us with dining, dancing and, yes, name tags.

“Zez!” more than one person exclaimed, using my most popular nickname (and the only one that can be repeated here). “What have you been up to?”

“No good,” I replied each time.

It didn’t surprise anybody because, 50 years ago, I spent so much time in the principal’s office that the administration could have charged me rent.

“I was on the dishonor roll,” I told a classmate.

“You graduated anyway,” she pointed out.

“They couldn’t wait to get rid of me,” I said.

“You look great,” another classmate said. “What’s your secret?”

“Spackle,” I replied. “It hides the wrinkles.”

Bridget Ormond Kopek, who was on the reunion committee, announced that we were going to have an “organ recital” before the formal festivities.

“You can discuss your organs, backs, eyes and any other medical problems,” she explained.

One guy called himself the “bionic man” because he has had knee and hip replacements and lots of other surgeries.

“There isn’t too much of the original me left,” he said.

Another classmate complained of constant soreness.

“What do you do for joint trouble?” he asked.

“Move to a new joint,” I suggested.

Many of the conversations centered on grandchildren. Sue and I have five — the most, as far as I know, of anyone there.

“And,” I told a group standing next to the bar, “they’re all more mature than I am.”

Retirement also was a big topic of conversation.

“I don’t know how I could have stopped working when I never really started,” I said to a couple of classmates.

“Do you get in your wife’s hair?” I was asked.

“Yes,” I responded. “Shampoo doesn’t help.”

After dinner, it was time to hit the dance floor.

“Do you have your dancing shoes on?” a woman asked.

“I sure do,” I said. “And they still fit my two left feet.”

Sue and I boogied to “My Girl,” which was appropriate because she has been mine for 43 years.

“You missed our wedding song,” Sue said, referring to “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

“Sorry,” I said. “I was in the bathroom swapping funny stories with a few of the guys.”

We stayed out on the floor for several more oldies until the raffle, which was held to defray expenses.

Among the items on the list were three copies of my latest book, “Every Day Is Saturday.”

“I’ll sign them,” I promised, “which will reduce their value even more.”

The most coveted items were bottles of wine.

When the number on one of Sue’s tickets was called, she shrieked, “That’s me! I won! I never win anything!”

Lightning — actually, cabernet — struck twice when Sue won again.

“This is your lucky night,” I told her.

It was a lucky night for everyone because the reunion couldn’t have been better.

To all our classmates of 50 years, a toast of wine and rousing cheers!

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of five books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures and Every Day Is Saturday, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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