Tropical Storm Debby Downer

Tropical Storm Debby made landfall in Florida two weeks ago, coincidentally on the same day we were driving from Myrtle Beach, SC, to my mother’s home in the Sunshine State.  We stopped off in Brunswick, Georgia, on the way to watch the England-Italy match, then got to Gainesville around 7p.m.  We’d been periodically touching base with my mother, who’d lost power for a couple of hours but then got it back.  She’d also seen some major flooding on her street, though by the end of the afternoon it had receded enough that she could once again make out the road surface beneath the water.

By the time we got to Gainesville, we’d decided just to knock out the last three hours of the drive and get to my mother’s that night.  But that was right when we encountered Debby, and after Lisa had to wade through two inches of water just to cross the single lane of parking lot separating our car from the restaurant where we were eating dinner at Butler Plaza, we decided to get a hotel and finish our journey the following morning.  I was also, by that point, getting some disheartening (and somewhat terrifying) tweets from Pinellas County people on my Twitter feed.

So around noon the next day we crossed the Howard Frankland into Pinellas County.  The rain had mostly let up by then, but the wind was still impressive enough that the waves from the bay were breaking over the concrete barriers to spill onto the edge of the road.

My mother lives on a barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast.  The driveways across the street from her were completely submerged.  That afternoon, Lisa, Boy and I went down to the beach, a block away, to have a look.

The beach was gone.

I knew intellectually that tourist beaches are artificially maintained, that sand has to be brought in to keep them up.  But I’ve never before seen a beach simply wiped away by nature.  We passed by the band of tall grasses that marks the start of the beach, and then the earth fell away vertically–so that the grasses’ roots were exposed–with water lapping at its base.

The water was still strong and choppy.  I waded out a few steps, and even with it still just around my calves, I could clearly feel the undertow.  We went along the beach a little, but had to turn back because the wind was picking at the sand.  We could actually see ribbons of sand undulating through the air just above the ground–I managed to catch a little of it on the video.  That sand was cutting into our forearms and our calves, and the pain was excruciating.  And that was even with the sand blowing so lightly that it didn’t leave a single mark on us–something which surprised me when I examined myself, to be honest.  I can’t imagine what a fullfledged sandstorm must be like; I now fully understand the idea of people being caught in storms like that having all their flesh etched away, leaving only bone.



So, much more eventful than if we hadn’t gone on holiday. I mean, here in Virginia, all they dealt with while we were gone was a sudden, devastating derecho.



It will never be real.

Maybe it’s too early to say that. It’s only been eight days. Maybe it’s too early to say that I will never really believe my dad’s dead.

But I don’t think it will ever be real.

In October we walked on a Sunday morning from his new house–the house he and my mum had just moved into the prior day–to the Loading Dock on Gulf Boulevard, my parents’ favourite bar; they’d specifically chosen their new house because it was within walking distance of the Loading Dock, and of the beach. We watched Man United v Liverpool–a pretty dismal performance by United, losing 2-0, though that was in part due to the referee deciding to play the part of an additional Liverpool player. There’s a photograph of Boy and me, in our Man United shirts, watching the match, though my dad’s not in it. I thought he was in it, till I just went right now and looked it up on Dropshots. After the match, my dad and I shook hands, like we always did, and said see you later.

The next time I was at the Loading Dock was for his wake.

The next day was Monday, my dad’s last day in Pinellas before he heads down to West Palm Beach at four a.m. every Tuesday for his four-day work week every week. Lisa and her sister and I took the kids and met my parents for lunch at Cheddar’s. There’s a picture from that, of my mother holding Girl, with half of my dad visible at the edge of the frame. At the end of the meal, my dad and I shook hands, like we always did, and said see you later.

And then before the next time we saw each other, he died.

You watch movies or TV shows, and even when it happens like that, even when it’s over in an instant, even when the main character finds out about the death after the fact, it’s not actually over. There’s still a dream where the dead person shows up and they get to say goodbye, or their ghost appears momentarily, or something. Some sort of closure.

But that’s not real.

What’s real is that we watched the Liverpool match together, and said see you later. We had lunch at Cheddar’s, and said see you later. We talked about the League Cup semi-final, and said talk to you later. He commented on a post on this blog.

And then he died.

And it was just done.

I spent last Tuesday night juggling phone calls. From my mother, numb from having spent the day letting people know her husband had died. From my sister, in tears, having just heard the news. From my aunt, in shock and, like me, also trying to deal with the fact that she suddenly needed to get to Florida in the next few days.

It was hectic. It was hard to keep track of everything that was going on. There were so many details on so many different topics that I had to open Notepad and type them all up to keep track of them.

And through it all I just kept expecting some sort of–of reset button or something, that we could just push and start the day over. It couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be real that it was just done, that he had been hit by that truck already at 6.30 this morning and was already dead. Not in the hospital, not hooked up to machines as he hovered between life and death. Already dead. We would not get a second chance. We would not get to chalk this up as a horrible learning experience. We would not get to say good bye.

The next day we arrived in Florida, and walked right in to the planning of a funeral by half a dozen grieving people. There were funeral parlours to visit; there were meetings with the funeral director; there was the need to pick what songs we wanted to play and get them burnt to CD; there were pictures that needed finding, assembling and printing. It was all so many details. Throughout the whole process, I just kept expecting that any moment, he would walk in and simply take care of it all. Not that he’d be alive again, not that we wouldn’t still have to have the funeral, but just that he would take care of all the niggling little details. Just like he always did.

But he didn’t. Because apparently, he’s dead.

But I don’t think that’ll ever be real.


November rains

Trees in autumn

It’s raining today. It’s beautiful.

Once Boy goes down for his nap–assuming Girl lets me–I’m going to brew a pot of tea and sit out on the balcony and enjoy it. Because the rain, while beautiful, means only one thing–the beauty will be gone tomorrow. It’s autumn in a nutshell, I suppose–a fleeting instant of breathless beauty, but an instant only because that beauty is itself a moment of death, of passing away. After the rains, tomorrow or the next day, all the leaves will have been washed away into a rotting carpet over the ground, and the trees will stand stark and bare, ready for the winter.

In a month or two, of course, we’ll get our first snowfall, and that too brings with it surpassing beauty. Lisa and I have at times talked about returning to Florida, and what we miss of life there. Florida’s a lovely place to live–Florida girls, in their Florida girl tank tops, are an aspect of the local climate I miss dearly–but honestly, in all the years I lived there, I don’t recall ever once looking out my window and being brought up short by the beauty I could see, like I do two or three times a year in Northern Virginia.


Pinellas County: toddler petri dish

Vio, Boy and JustinI guess it’s appropriate that the day of my post about everyone but me getting sick finds me dealing with a mild stomach bug. Trust me, I much rather would have had the cough everyone’s been dealing with than a bad stomach.

Since our last Monday in Florida was also the Monday before Hallowe’en, we figured it would be a nice thing to get all the two- and three-year-olds together for some Hallowe’en themed activities that evening. There was pumpkin painting, baking cookies and making candy corn out of construction paper. Boy, his cousin Justin and Diane’s older girl Vio all had a great time.

We’d been supposed to be joined by one other–Chipmunk, Diane’s friend Maria‘s older boy. But he’d had a fever a few days before and had a runny nose, so Maria didn’t come, in case he passed something on to Girl–she still hadn’t had her two month shots at that point. I guess the joke ended up being on Maria, though, because it’s far more likely that what she actually avoided was having her boys pick something up from us, instead.*

Because the next morning, Boy woke up with a fever and a cough.

His uncle and grandma–Lisa’s mother and brother–had had the same symptoms a day or two earlier, though none of us had really had any contact with them since then. I know Diane has a theory that it all came from her younger girl, Roo, who’d had a fever the prior Monday–that she either spread it through me, when I visited that Monday, or the day before at Girl’s christening.

But wherever it came from, it then spread to all the kids, and most of the adults. Lisa had it very shortly after Boy, and Girl made continual soft groaning noises for a few days and became a much lighter sleeper, both of which I suspect came from a sore throat.

We had to swing quickly by Diane’s that day, to drop something off, but of course with Boy sick, we weren’t going to let the kids have any contact with each other. Only, as we were pulling out of her driveway, Boy–who’d been blissfully asleep–suddenly piped up, “I have to go pee!” So I had to knock on Diane’s door and very apologetically ask if Boy could run in and use her toilet. And sure enough, when we got back home there was a message from Diane waiting for me that she and Vio were sick too; soon enough it spread to Roo and Matt. (This, of course, meant that Vio and Roo couldn’t go trick or treating, but I think Matt and Diane gave them a really cool substitute, instead.)

In the end, I seemed to be the only one who escaped this thing. It was even Lisa’s second (and, frankly, far more minor) affliction of the trip, after an infection earlier in the week that had produced fever, chills, a lot of pain nursing Girl, and a rather farcical episode as it took our insurance company three attempts to figure out how to get us a prescription for antibiotics in Florida.

So, you know. The usual sort of magical Florida holiday.


*I was really looking forward to meeting Maria in person, but also far too worried that I was going to accidentally address her as Mommy Melee.

Pinellas (trailer) Park

Boy and Justin in costumeThe week before Hallowe’en, we took Boy, Girl and their cousin Justin to the Hallowe’en fair at Largo Central Park. Boy and Justin had a lot of fun in the mini bounce houses, though Boy was a bit too small to go on the inflatable he most wanted to try. And everyone loved looking at the costumes; Lisa’s favourite was Dora, Swiper and Boots.

As we were standing in line for one of the bounce houses, Lisa nudged me. “Is that pregnant woman smoking? Oh, please tell me it’s just a costume.”

Smoothly and coolly (I am nothing if not sneaky), I moved a few steps away and surveyed the woman out the corner of my eye. And she was, indeed, smoking. And she was heavily pregnant–I’d guess around seven months. And neither was a costume.

So I did exactly what you’d expect in such a situtation. I whipped out my cellphone and tweeted the event:

Twitter screencap

Except my first draft didn’t say Central Florida. It said Pinellas County. Only, when I showed it to Lisa (Lisa approves all my tweets), she said, “Why is that a Pinellas County thing? I see no reason why it particularly applies to Pinellas County.”

Well, I only lived in Pinellas County for four years, and Lisa lived there for fifteen or sixteen, so I deferred to her, even though I totally thought it was quintessential Pinellas County.* We compromised on the wording you now see above.

Abigail in peapod costumeNot five minutes later, a middle-aged man approached us to coo over Girl, whom I was holding while she slept in my arms.

“I remember when mine were that little,” he said. “Of course, now they’re in the garage, firing up the power tools.”

He paused, then continued, “I make my own ammunition, so when my boy came up to me and said, ‘Hey, dad, look at this bullet I made,’ I knew it was time to put a lock on the garage door.”

And he walked away. There was silence for a moment, then Lisa said, “I withdraw my previous objection.”


*Not exclusively Pinellas County, by any means. It would certainly also be Alachua County, where I lived for the six years following my time in Pinellas. But it would not be Montgomery County, where I spent the four years after that.

Vote early, vote often, Vote Saxon

ETA: A picture of Claire

I have lots of friends who know Gainesville, Florida, and I have lots of friends who are fans of Doctor Who. But the list of my friends who know both Gainesville and Doctor Who is probably fairly short. For those of you who do appear on that list, though, I’d like to share a photograph I found on LiveJournal’s Doctor Who community this morning. Here’s the 34th Street Wall at one o’clock this morning, Election Day:


The young ladies on either side are the ones who did the painting. I’ve asked Claire to go down after class and get a picture of herself in front of it; if she does that, I’ll post it here.

And now, here’s Claire:

Claire at the 34th Street Wall

Harold Saxon: the candidate of Phi Mu sorority.


Words yesterday: 1198
Words total: 78,977

Time spent writing: Five hours (Noon-3pm, 9.30-11.30)
Reason for stopping: Boy got up; wanted to see the end of Monday Night Football

Surf and sun

Today we decided to spend our last free morning in Florida by going to breakfast with my dad at Crabby Bill’s and then taking Boy across the street to the beach.

Last week Lisa and I went to the beach and the water was wonderfully warm, almost like a bathtub. Today it had become distinctly chilly. But as we waded out beyond the sandbar, and the water started to come up above our waists, the sea filled with hundreds upon hundreds of tiny fish, darting in all directions, so thick in the water that you could feel them crashing against you. I dropped down so that only my head was above water, so quickly that it made a splash, and one of the fish flew over my right shoulder, arcing through the air from behind me to land with a small splash in front of me. Three pelicans, their wingspan broader than my arms outstretched, glided just a few inches above the water, swooping right past us.


The characters but not the plot

Going to my high school reunion last weekend has made me pretty nostalgic, just like going to Gainesville for the football national championship last year made me nostalgic for the University of Florida. But the nostalgia this time has been different.

I miss college. I really do. I miss the experience. I miss the football games. I miss the social life. I miss the sense of community. I miss the laidback lifestyle. I miss having no more serious commitment than two of hours of class this afternoon, both of which can be blown off without any serious penalty. I miss sleeping till two in the afternoon. I miss coeds.

I do not miss high school. Not one bit. Seriously–if someone walked up to me and said, “Would you like me to rewind your life back to August 1998?” I would say yes in a heartbeat.* But if they said, “Would you like me to rewind your life back to August 1994?” I can’t think of any incentive in this world that would persuade me into thinking that’s a good idea.

What I do miss about high school is my friends. And as the week has progressed, I’ve missed them more and more.** I miss the friends I met at the reunion, who I haven’t seen in ten years, and who, I’m realising, I’m unlikely to see for another ten–people like Kara and Katy and Katie and Kristen.*** But even more than that, I miss the friends who weren’t there, who I still haven’t seen for a decade and aren’t likely to see anytime soon–like Joel or Andy or Jen or Charity (not even counting people of whom there was never the possibility of them being there, because they came from the class of 97 or 99). I’d like to see these people, hang out with them, catch up with them–but catch up with them as they are now, now that both they and I are (relatively) well-adjusted adults.

I spent my high school career as a nerd and definitely not as a member of the popular crowd. I know, I know, everyone in high school thinks they’re a social outcast. And maybe I’m wrong. But the number of people in my senior yearbook who find a way to sneak some variant of, “You’re really odd,” into what they write makes me think I’m not. Certainly I never had much of a social life outside of school hours until the latter half of my senior year. And, even beyond that, Seminole High School has rather a reputation (and a deserved one) for how cliquish it can be, and how people tend not to socialise outside their designated circles.

I’m somewhat surprised, therefore, to realise as I go back through my senior yearbook (which I’ve done three or four times this week–again, left on my own, nothing else to do) just how many friends I had that I really cared about, and that–I think–cared about me. These people were a big part of my life, and I miss them.

But I’ve also realised that there’s really no reason why I haven’t seen anyone from the class of 98 in ten years. One thing that really struck me at the reunion was how many people are still living in Pinellas County, or perhaps across the bay in Tampa. Sophia, it turns out, even lives on the same street as my parents.**** Particularly frustrating was finding out just in the past eighteen hours or so that two people who didn’t come to the reunion, but whom I would have loved to see, are both living in Pinellas County. Maybe if I’d known they were here when we arrived a week ago, we could have set up lunch or dinner. But now the wedding madness is taking over, so that’s probably not going to be possible anymore.

Since we first moved up to Maryland four and a half years ago, we’ve probably made about a dozen trips back down to the bay area. And in all of those up until the reunion, the only non-family person we’ve visited has been Diane (who’s not a high school friend, but a college one), once. But with stuff like Facebook and mySpace, there’s no excuse not to be contacting at least two or three people every time we come down. So from now on, that’s what I’m going to do.

But in the meantime: Joel, Andy, Leah, Frank, Kara, Katy, Eddie, Greta, Lindsay, Charity, Katie, Meredith, Annie, Erika***** I miss you guys.


*This actually isn’t quite true anymore. The introduction of Boy into my life means that, for the first time in my life, I probably wouldn’t be willing to redo anything in my first 25 years, whether reliving the good or fixing the bad, for fear that any change might lead to the housedaemon not coming along.

**This week, as my mother has been taking Boy to her daycare class and Lisa has been running around doing matron of honour stuff for Julia’s wedding, I’ve been spending much of my time sitting at home in parents’ flat. Perhaps the week after my high school reunion was, in fact, not the best time to give me large amounts of time on my own for the first time in a long, long time.

***Honestly, no list of people in this post should be taken as in any way exhaustive. I’d never try to do an exhaustive list, because the danger of forgetting someone is just too great. Any list given is just a few examples, so no one should read anything into people not appearing on the list. By way of demonstrating the stupidity of treating any of these lists as exhaustive, this first list here isn’t even an exhaustive list of girls whose forenames begin with the letter K (Kim) who appear on the list of friends I’m already missing after seeing them at the reunion.’

****Yes, Seminole High School alumni, this week your Best Looking and Most Intelligent classmates of 1998 have both been living on the same street.

*****Go back and reread ***.

Mini-post-reunion: photographic evidence

Ian and KatieSo a camera that broke immediately before we left for the reunion led to me not getting any pictures at my high school reunion this weekend. Yesterday I bought a replacement, a Nikon L18. It was red, because that’s the only colour they had at the store, and it’s not girly at all. Nope. It’s, um, Man United-themed. Yeah, that’s it.

Anyway, as luck would have it, this morning Lisa and I went to lunch with Katie (Adams) Pestel and her husband, Michael. So I took the new camera with us and demanded that Katie and I have our picture taken together. And as I said at the time, “Look like you’re at a reunion!”

Here we have, therefore, the second picture taken with the new camera (the first is, inevitably, of Boy having free rein to run around Pizza Shack to his heart’s content and can be viewed on his Dropshots page). And isn’t that just as quintessential an image as you’ve ever seen of two people who haven’t seen each other since adolescence having an awesome time ten years after their high school graduation?


In ten years, the women will be 38

Seminole High School mascotA note before the note. This first note regards maiden names. I genuinely think it’s rude to continually refer to women who have taken a married name by their maiden names. But as I’ve had reinforced this weekend, attempting to use married names in a context where the ladies are known by their maiden names–like, say, a high school reunion–merely demands that you then have to stop and identify the lady in question by her maiden name every single time. So barring objections, I’m going to refer to any married women mentioned in this post by maiden name and married name the first time she appears, then by maiden name from there on out.

We now continue on to the body of our post, which begins with another preambulatory note.

To start, an unfortunate programming note. As I was heading out the door for my high school reunion Saturday night, I was about to pick up the camera when I noticed that its LCD screen had shattered. That’s why there are no photographs of the sexy, sophisticated ladies and somewhat goofier gentlemen of the Seminole High School class of 1998 adorning this post, though I’m hoping to post such pictures when I get in touch with those people whose cameras did not break immediately before the reunion, or when the photographer posts his pictures to his website.

And now on to the body of our post.

Okay, I lied. Another note first. There’ll be other posts to follow about my reunion; as I write the post below, I keep thinking of other things I want to say, like the series of posts I did following the Gators’ football national championship. The post to follow is mainly a diary of the weekend.

Our reunion was spread out over three events over twenty-four hours, which I think was a really great idea–or to be more precise, a good idea executed really well. Each event was different from the others, and honestly, I’m really glad we went to all three, because at each one there were people who weren’t at either of the others, so missing any one of them would have meant missing out on seeing certain people.

Friday night we had cocktails on the beach, which was probably the best-attended of the three events. Lisa and I got there around 7.30 and settled at one of the shaded tables to watch everyone else arrive. This would have been a great plan were it not for the fact that sunset on Friday was right around 7.42, and that the bar had seriously inadequate lighting (and would periodically, for no apparent reason, turn off what little light they had, plunging us into total darkness). This resulted in an evening that comprised in large part squinting at people’s silhouettes and trying to judge from them whether I might have known someone when they were a teenager ten years ago. On the other hand, there was one old friend there who was drunk off her head, so whenever I couldn’t find anyone else to talk to (the giant paralysing fear of a high school reunion is, of course, not having anyone to talk to), I could wander back to her and talk for as long as I liked, because she had no idea that we’d already asked and answered all these questions just a few moments before.

Most disconcerting moment of the night was discovering just how many of my high school classmates have read (or do read, regularly) this blog. (Katy Kifer assures me that I do indeed know cutie Michelle D.)

Highlight conversation of the night was with Katie Adams (Pestel). After Lisa and Katie had talked for a few minutes, I turned to Katie and said, “Isn’t she (Lisa) just far nicer and sunnier than anyone you would ever expect to be willing to stick around with me?” Katie responded with, “Yeah, no kidding!” so quickly that it pretty much tripped over the heels of my sentence–so quickly, in other words, that that very thought had to have already been prominent in her mind before I jokingly brought it up. She then proceeds to expound on how charming and happy Lisa is and that she had been seriously wondering how I had so lucked out.

As we were leaving, Lisa said idly, “You know, I think my favourite one of your friends so far has been Katie.”

The next event was a tour of Seminole High School the next morning, the best part of which was that it was the event that we all got to bring our kids to. Boy spent the walk through the high school doing the Gator Chomp alongside two-year-old Madeleine. After the tour we all went for lunch at Joto’s, a pizzeria a couple of blocks from campus. While all the other toddlers sat and ate their pizzas, Boy would climb up into his seat, eat a bite, climb down again, then run over to one of the other tables, and either climb up into the seat next to their kids, or climb up into the lap of the attractive mother. Seriously, I barely knew Tracy Jackson (a married name I don’t know) and Missy Fox (Anthony) my entire four years of high school, but Boy is now great friends with them. [This is the point of the post where I intend to post a picture of Missy (Tracy didn’t attend the Saturday night event where the pictures were taken) once I actually have access to pictures.]

Saturday night was the reunion proper. This was the event that we actually had to pay to attend, so attendance fell off somewhat from cocktails the night before. I was a little disappointed that the people who didn’t make it to the second night seemed, by and large, to be exactly those of my good friends who had showed up in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of old friends there, but, with one or two exceptions, they weren’t people who had been my close friends.

Which led, interestingly enough, to the most pleasant irony of the weekend, which was that at my high school reunion I actually spent most of my time meeting new friends. Lisa and I ended up at a table with Kara Gajentan and Kim Leonard (Cooper), neither of whom I think I’d ever even spoken with before, but we all had a great time.

One thing I liked in comparison to Lisa’s reunion last year: the cost was about the same (actually ours was a little higher, verging on a hundred dollars a head), but our reunion came with an open bar and free access to the buffet. Eighty or a hundred dollars a head is a perfectly legitimate price for something like this; it just needs to provide you with a bit more than simply admission.

I think both of us couldn’t also help but notice–how to put this?–how in their element Seminole ladies seem to be when they’re in cocktail dresses at a dinner party. Seminole High School has something of a reputation for social sophistication (jealous people from other schools might use other words to describe it), and I’m happy to report the Class of 98 is representin’.

The buffet was pretty well appointed–shrimp, steak, chicken, a potato bar. The shrimp came on great long skewers each holding upwards of a dozen pieces. I went up to the buffet with Kara Gajentan, and when we got to the shrimp, we both felt too intimidated to take a skewer of our own, so we snapped one in two and each took half.

Lisa arrived back at the table a few moments later, a full skewer of shrimp on her plate.

There was a little bit of ribbing about this, but Lisa gave a triumphant, “Ha!” when Kim and her husband sat down and Kim’s husband had a full skewer of shrimp on her plate. Of course, he immediately picked up the skewer and slid half its contents onto his wife’s plate.

A little while later, I went up to the buffet again, this time in line behind Katy. When Katy got to the shrimp, she paused, clearly trying to decide what to do. Then she picked up a skewer, slid half the shrimp onto my plate, then set the remaining half-skewer on her own plate and moved on.

After dinner and the speeches, we moved on to the dancing, and I was made grateful both for the open bar and that it was Seminole High School I went to. There are few sights I can think of that could be more erotic than seeing the girls a guy spent four years sitting next to when they were teenagers, now as inebriated 28 year olds gyrating against each other in every different permutation they can come up with. Lisa’s favourite is watching the girls dance face to face.

Though having said that, we did soon discover one image more erotic: that would be a tipsy 28-year-old woman in a high school cheerleader’s uniform (that still fit her like a sheath) and a pair of kinky, strappy, sparkly gold kitten heels, who grabbed her pompoms and started doing her high-kicks before she realised that her panties had been selected on the basis of a knee-length purple cocktail dress rather than a bouncy pleated skirt.

(Though Lisa pointed out that we [by “we” I mean the reunion attendees] missed a trick by not establishing a “Get your picture taken with the cheerleader” booth.)

Perhaps another cultural difference between Seminole High and St Petersburg High: at a party scheduled from 6.30 to 11pm, the open bar lasted from 6.30 to 8.30. Lisa was quite surprised that the closing of the open bar at 8.30 did not in any way herald a thinning in the tide of people constantly visiting the bartender to get a new drink.

There was, indeed, quite a bit of drunkenness. Indeed, everyone was so drunk that they simply failed to leave the party after it finished–not that they were too drunk to move, or that they surlily refused to leave, but that it simply wasn’t getting through to people that it was time to leave the room now. Stopping playing the music, closing the bar, turning the lights back on, and three microphone announcements that we were now moving on to the afterparty, an easy walk up the beach to Jimmy B’s, simply failed to produce any effect. Only when Kevin Kemp got on the microphone and said with some mounting desperation, “Okay, guys, we have now moved the afterparty to the hotel bar. Out the door, turn left, take a right, and you’re there,” did people finally begin ambling out the ballroom into the lobby and depositing themselves in the wicker chairs there. Indeed, while the ballroom did empty, only about two dozen people made it to the hotel bar, and I genuinely have no idea where they went.

Lisa had already gone to take a nap in the car, so fairly soon after we arrived at the bar I realised that I myself had now consumed enough Corona and rum and Coke to make myself drunk for the first time in a very, very long time, so I reluctantly made my goodbyes. As I was departing from the final group–a cluster of guys–I made the remark, “See everyone in 2018!”

“Or maybe 2013,” Kevin said. “I was thinking maybe we could do this more often than every ten years.” (Kevin, as senior class president, is responsible for organising our reunions. Do you think they tell people before they run for office at the age of seventeen that senior class officer is a commitment For All Time?)

“Every year!” I brightly suggested, at which Kevin blanched and immediately put me in charge of any such annual reunion project.

This then burst into a discussion amongst the entire group as to the merits of whether it was worth the effort and expense of all gathering together every few years. My own voice, when I spoke up, was fairly quiet, but I had the distinct sensation of everyone stopping to listen.

“In ten years’ time,” I said sagely, “the women will be thirty-eight.”

All conversation stopped, and a companionable silence ensued as we all contemplated for a moment the thought of those ladies on the dance floor, and probably of Angela in her cheerleader’s uniform. Kevin, across the circle from me, raised his bottle in quiet salute to me for raising the point that no one seemed to have latched onto yet.

“So,” Roger broke the silence, “reunion next week, then?”


Words Wednesday: 1076
Words total: 61,435

Reason for stopping: Quota
Food: Jelly Bellies

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