A writer learns that the leap of faith he took in attending his high-school reunion resulted in healing something from the growing-up years. For Part One, please click here.
San Juan Country Club, Farmington New Mexico, the 40th reunion of the Class of 1968 dinner and dance. Dinner had started winding down, and it looked like the band was about to play, so I could listen for a set and leave. During dinner I had been visiting with Betty, a woman I’d gone to junior high with. We had looked through several junior high and high school annuals she had brought with her. We had also looked through the Scholarly Scribbles literary magazine that our class had compiled in the 8th grade. I had discovered that a number of people still had their copies, and like me, thought of that junior high time very fondly.
Bobby, the lead singer in the band that was about to play, had told me some of his memories. Our Civics teacher had called us a group of “pretentious pseudo-intellectuals.” We laughed over that, because that’s how we remembered that particular teacher – a pretentious pseudo-intellectual who was very self-impressed. But on the other hand, my friend Sandra, who had talked me into coming to this reunion, said that Mrs. Kerr, our 9th grade English teacher, had told her many years later that our class was one of the most vibrant, intelligent and enjoyable classes she ever taught. I just knew junior high had been an almost magical time for me, and the Scholarly Scribbles literary magazine seemed to capture the essence of that time.
Then Betty and her husband got up to leave – they had to attend his reunion in Aztec. So I was left at the table with two couples I didn’t know, who were talking among themselves. I saw an empty seat at a table next to the dance floor, so I moved over there, asking one of the women if I could sit there. It was Koni, who I had known a bit in junior high. She introduced her friend Maggie, who didn’t go to high school with us, but worked with Koni and Dennis, a local surgeon who was about to play guitar with the band. Maggie had come to support her friend and to see the surgeon play. She said she might want to dance some, but didn’t like country western music. She’d tried it once or twice, and didn’t find it fun.
As we sat listening to the band tune up, a woman walked up to me. She said she was at a table of women who were wondering who I was. “I’m Dan Hays. I went to Ladera Elementary, then Hermosa Junior High, and FHS – but my family moved away in the middle of my junior year.”
She smiled, nodded and said, “Good to know. I’m married, but it’s that table of single women over there who were wanting to know.”
The band started playing and I convinced Maggie to dance a slow song with me. She did, and we had a lot of fun easing around the dance floor. Then they played fast song, and we stayed out there for it. I love fast dancing, and gyrated easily around the floor, with a big grin on my face because I enjoyed it so much. I started to see people watching me from the sidelines – and did I mention I love that kind of attention? Several songs later I had spotted the table of women, and they were suddenly dancing around me and smiling at me. Later I went over and asked one of them to dance, and it turned out it was Ellen, someone I had known since junior high. It was one of those amazing experiences where you escort the woman to the floor and transition from walking to dancing seamlessly. It was enchanting.
Finally, I had to stop and rest for a minute – I was drinking glass after glass of water. Tom, the football star, was walking by, and I introduced myself. He was amazed, and knew exactly who I was. When I had gone back to Farmington in 1984, I had looked him up, and we talked about that visit. Several of his buddies had talked with me at the VFW event on Friday night, and I could see them watching me now, and other people as well. I could feel a lot of attention now focused on me, both because of the dancing, and now I had been visiting with the class popular guy. I loved the whole experience.
Later, as the dance wound down and I slow danced with the woman from junior high – I’d been alternating between dancing with her and Maggie for the past hour, I was once again astonished at how differently this reunion turned out than I had expected. I would look back later and realize that I had healed something from my growing up years, but at the moment, I was just aware that things felt good. During the next fast dance, Tom wanted to fist bump with me out on the dance floor, and while I mentally laughed at the gesture, it also felt good because of the acceptance it signaled.
The next day I headed back to Texas, aware that something special had just happened. I’d been checking my email because I was moving forward with self publication on my book. But, I was also waiting to hear from the literary agent who had wanted to read it. I had two strong directions in place for publication.
But what I really wanted to do was go home, pull out my copy of Scholarly Scribbles, and just read.
Dancing at the “Club” © Dan Hays. All rights Reserved.
Scholarly Scribbles © Dan Hays. All rights Reserved.