2017-08-20 / Family

Reunions — an inopportune moment for an opportunity

By JANINE TALBOT
Columnist

Saco is a very small city compared to where I grew up in Connecticut. My birth city consisted of five high schools when I was a teenager. Spouse’s city, technically a borough, still consists of just one. It was rare that I would bump into anyone I knew from high school if we were in town. My husband, on the other hand, could run into someone he knew walking to the mailbox where he grew up — and that was on a dead-end road.

Spouse and I are not exactly a day’s drive from our old stomping grounds, so we haven’t made a huge effort to attend reunions. I was not particularly close to anyone in school, and Spouse also kept few high school connections other than on Facebook. We did attend his five- and 10-year reunions and have enjoyed some great times with a high school friend of mine and his wife.

It’s funny how movies and shows about high school reunions, though exaggerated, do have some truth to them. There are the cheerleaders who married, divorce, remarried and probably never left town, the jocks who still talk about that “big play” or the league trophy their team won, the nerds that either own successful start-ups or still live in their parents’ basement, and the theater people who have since done stand-up comedy in several bowling alley lounges, or written and produced their own play and performed it at the local VFW. Sometimes there are success stories you didn’t expect. Those folks probably won’t be making an appearance.

And then there is That Guy. You know the one I mean. He was, and still is, going to make it big and be rich someday. He’d do anything, build anything, sell anything to bring in that fast cash. We ran into one at Spouse’s 10-year reunion, but didn’t know it at the time. He sat with us and we had a lovely chat. He even mentioned stopping by our place sometime. As parents of an infant back then, we seldom saw the light of day unless it appeared after an all-night feeding/burping/diaper changing session. A visitor would be the highlight of our year.

A couple of weeks later, That Guy called and asked if he could come over on a particular evening. We agreed and said we’d order pizza. His hesitant laugh should have been a clue.

On the night of the appointed visit we had a large pizza waiting, along with cheap wine. Our guest showed up about 30 minutes later than expected … in a suit and tie, carrying an easel and a briefcase. This was not a good sign. 

That Guy set up his easel and proceeded to awkwardly present various numbers and charts. There was zero inflection in his voice and not a hint of a personality, just a spewing of business facts. We had become victims of an insurance sales pitch and our pitcher was way off base. His “I’m so excited and you will be, too” speech was flatter than the rapidly cooling pizza. 

The moment he was done with his spiel, he packed his paraphernalia up, never giving us a chance to ask even one question, and practically power-walked himself out the door. To this day, if one of us says, “I’m so excited and you will be, too,” in complete monotone, Spouse and I laugh like it was the first time we heard it. 

Over the years That Guy has sold more policies, promises, concoctions and who knows what else on his way to trying to make it rich. Fortunately, it’s been from a distance through Facebook posts. Recently he sent Spouse a message that he would be in town this weekend. So will The Love Couple (resounding cheer), so we have a legitimate excuse to say “Sorry, but no.” Otherwise, I told Spouse he’d be meeting That Guy alone. Fear of bodily harm would preclude him from buying into anything without me there.

Our 40th high school reunions are both next year. If, by some fluke, we were to consider attending one, I’d say my big city school is the safest. Nobody will remember me well enough to sell me anything. 

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