The High School Reunion Speech

Excuse me. Hello? May I have everyone’s attention, please? Now, I know this is not on the agenda, but I have a few things that I would like to get off my chest, I mean, aside from my thick, lush forest of chest hair. That stays right where it belongs. A lot has changed since High School, but that chest hair is the one constant in my life since I bloomed into puberty at a precocious 13 years old. It’s my anchor, the one fully realized potential amidst the turbulent waves that have crashed on me since graduation: early onset male-patterned baldness; an expanding paunch that now hangs over my beltline; a barely tolerable job that fails to provide intellectual, emotional, or spiritual fulfillment; a steady stream of failed relationships; the creeping sense that I am still insecure about the four years of my life that we completed over 10 years ago, and the knowledge that I haven’t matured beyond the need to prove my superiority over all of you.

Go Grizzly Bears! What’s that? Yeah, I know our mascot isn’t the Grizzly Bear, but it can beat the shit out what is: the Tiger. Yeah, well, agility can’t compete with raw strength. Anyways, I don’t know who you are; we didn’t go to High School together. So what if today’s the Friday after Thanksgiving and this is a bar and not my 10-year High School Reunion? The actual reunion was last summer, but I overlooked the Facebook E-vite I received amidst all of the witty posts I write about my life, which are designed to trick everyone, including myself, into thinking that I am a happy, fulfilled adult who no longer stalks my High School classmates’ profiles when I am feeling gripped by my own ennui. Tonight is the “Real Reunion”, when we return en masse for the Holidays, involuntarily running into each other in the aisles of the local supermarket and, now, at the one decrepit bar of our ailing Hometown that we all flock to after obligatory family interaction. Raise a glass, I say, and Cheers to that!

Oh, Craig isn’t enjoying himself. Typical Craig: the resident Debbie Downer! Well, we all have a role to play. Have to maintain the social order. What-ya been up to, Craig? Still worried about your next piano recital? Craig loved to play with his piano, if you catch my drift. His fingers were always touching his keys. No more acne, though, so I guess you have that going for you. Your life couldn’t be that good: you never write anything on Facebook, and when I Googled your name I couldn’t tell the difference between you and the millions of other Craig Matthews out there in the universe. The man with two first names! You were so lame in High School. You still are. I don’t even recognize the woman you’re standing next to. What’s that, Craig? Not good enough to marry one of your own? You had to go start a new life, that way she never knows how much of a loser you used to be. Well, I remember, Craig! Oh, look at him. Look at how mad he is.

Don’t touch me. I’ll get off the counter when I’m good and ready. This was my bar before it was ever yours; the entire town let me drink in here after I took the soccer team to State. We would’ve won, too, if the refs didn’t practically give the game to the other team. Back then all of me was beautiful; the thick coat of hair on my head matched the one on my chest. Don’t be alarmed. I’m just a man unbuttoning his shirt. I know this is what you all wanted. Bartender, can you bring the lights down and put on some music from my adolescence? Some real smooth and righteous R&B? I’m sorry about before. Ok, I’ll apologize to Craig, too: sorry, Craig. And sorry to all of you here tonight who didn’t go to High School with me. It’s not your fault that you don’t understand me, but you’ll never know me like they do.

I’m leaving, ok? You don’t have to call the cops. I’m gonna slow dance my way out of here, the way I danced with Sarah when we were voted Homecoming King and Queen. What ever happened to her? She disappeared from Facebook after I sent her 7 unreturned messages. Must be a glitch in the system. I pictured running into her at the bar tonight, playing it cool when she glanced my way and I went up to her to say the perfect combination of words to make her mine again: a verbatim excerpt of her inscription in my yearbook, which is a verbatim quote of our favorite TV show, Season 1 of “Survivor.” The tribe has spoken. If Sarah comes tonight, please tell her, “The Grizzly Bear was here.”

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