13 Ocak 2023

The Reunion


The invitation read: Come and reminisce with the Class of 1985 S.R. Butler High School Saturday, August 20th, 2005 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm The Courtyard Huntsville Hotel 4804 University Drive N.W. Huntsville Alabama 1-256-837-4114 Now, I hadn’t been real fond of high school back when I was going to high school, but I tossed the invitation onto the table as I left for work that day. I tried to put the invitation out of my mind and concentrate on my work. As a computer programmer, I need to be able to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted, because a simple character or letter out of place in some computer coding can mess everything up. And finding that misplaced letter or character can be a real pain in the ass! But I guess the invitation was stuck someplace in my head, because Bob, a fellow co-worker of mine, noticed I wasn’t quite “there”.”What’s up with you today, Phil? Your head doesn’t seem to be with you today. What’s buggin’ you?” he asked. “Oh nothing. Just got something in the mail this morning that’s got me distracted I guess,” I said, trying to focus on my work. “Oh?” he asked. I knew Bob; he wasn’t one to let something go once he got his mind on it. It was one of the things that made him so good at his job. “It’s just this damn high school reunion… I got an invitation this morning. I didn’t even realize it had been twenty years already!” I told him. “Wow twenty years! You have to go… you know, check up on all those kids you used to know!” he said. “I don’t know… I didn’t have many friends back then. I sorta stayed to myself and just wanted to get through the whole mess!” I said. “Isn’t there anyone from back then you are curious about? An old girlfriend or a best friend?” he asked. My mind went back to those high school days and to a certain figure from my past. Denise. Denise Hawthorne. The most beautiful girl I had ever met and a girl I had a terrible crush on back in those days. Yes, I would like to see how she is getting along. “We’ll see,” I told him. It wasn’t a flat out no, but I wasn’t going to just agree with him right off either. It left the option open. I had hopes that my answer would suffice and he would leave it at that, but this was Bob… it wasn’t going to be that easy. It was during lunch that the subject reared its ugly head again. We were in a small restaurant on the ground floor of the building I worked in, enjoying our lunch, when Amy, one of the girls we knew in the office next door, came in for lunch as well. We invited her to sit with us and we all got to talking, when Bob brought the subject of my reunion back up. “So, Phil, have you thought anymore about that reunion?” he said, not real tactfully. I flashed him a look that could kill and he just grinned mischievously. “Reunion?” Amy asked. “Yeah, old Phil here has his twentieth high school reunion coming up, and he’s not sure he wants to go,” Bob said. “Oh, Phil, you simply HAVE to go! Oh, it will be so much fun! Oh, please tell me you are going! Please, please, please!” Amy said, quite animated and excited. I couldn’t say no to her. I agreed I would go, but in my mind I didn’t make any promises on how long I would stay. I would go check things out, but if it got uncomfortable or boring, I was out of there! It was three weeks later; the day of the reunion was approaching. Nothing more had been said about it since that day at lunch, but that Friday, Amy stopped by our office for a short visit. “Hi, Phil, just wanted to say good luck with your reunion. Don’t worry, it will be so much fun, I just know it! Monday we can get together for lunch and you can tell me all about it!” she said happily. Then blowing me a little kiss, she left to go home. I hoped she was right, but I wasn’t counting on much happening. Amy was the kind of bubbly, cheerful, vivacious girl that drew happiness from thin air. Her happiness was infectious; you couldn’t NOT be happy just being around her. I was more down to earth and rooted in reality. I was happy when it was appropriate, but I didn’t walk around with a big goofy grin all day long! Quitting time came, and I went home to my apartment as usual. I lived alone and didn’t mersin escort have anyone to rush home to, so I took a little longer to come home than normal. I popped a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner and went to change clothes. I was looking forward to a nice quiet evening alone. That night I was plagued with dreams of high school and of Denise. I remembered trying to ask her out a few times unsuccessfully. She was always around her girlfriend Kathy, or with some guy; Denise was a popular girl and getting her alone where we could talk was next to impossible. I made the mistake once of trying to pry her away from her friends to ask her out, but all I got for my efforts was being laughed at and ignored. After that, for the next couple weeks, every time we passed in the hallway, I heard snickers and giggling afterwards, and I knew I was still the joke of the school. It was all very demoralizing and one more reason to hate school. After a rough night of high school nightmares, it was almost a blessing to wake up in my own bed the next morning, even if it meant waking up alone. Tonight would be the big reunion, and I had a few things to do beforehand. I took my Chevy Malibu in and got it washed and detailed (I wanted anyone seeing me to think I had a nice car at least!) and then I went shopping. I was due for a new suit anyway, so this was a good excuse to get one. With a clean car and a brand new suit, I was about as ready as I could get. I went home and took a shower, shaved, and got ready for the reunion. I knew the hotel well, having put up several out of town clients there, so finding the place was not an issue. I pulled into the parking lot and found a spot not too far away from the door and with a straight shot to the road, in case I wanted to make a hasty exit! I sat in my car for a few minutes, gathering my courage before going into what I was sure wold be a hornet’s nest of old school attitudes, opinions and relationships. I was never part of the “cool kids” cliques and I sure as hell didn’t need them now! So summoning up all the intestinal fortitude I could muster, I got out of the car and walked towards the hotel lobby. The front counter directed me back to where the conference room, and the reunion, was. I walked down the hallway and then into the room. The place was all decorated with silver and black (our school colors) with some red thrown in for color. It was done tastefully and looked pretty impressive, I had to admit. “Welcome to our reunion! Your name please?” a woman at the desk close to the door said. I told her my name and she looked me up in her register. Once confirmed that I belonged there, she gave me a self stick “Hi My name is______.” sticker and a ticket for a door prize of some sort. I went on in and tried to find a table to park myself for the duration. I went up to the bar and had just ordered a drink when, behind me, I heard an old, familiar voice. “Can I get a Strawberry Daiquiri, please?” the soft voice said. I turned and beheld my angel. “Denise? Denise Hawthorne?” I asked, surprised to see her there for some reason. “I remember you! You’re Phillip Hawkins, right?” she said. “That’s right. I’m surprised you remember me,” I said. “Well to be honest, I spent some time last night with the yearbooks, going through them and trying to remember names and faces so I wouldn’t look too foolish tonight!” she said sheepishly. “But you haven’t changed much so you were easy to spot!” With my last name being Hawkins and hers being Hawthorne, our pictures had been side by side all though high school. Denise was a couple years younger than me. I started school late because my birthday fell after the cut-off, plus in junior high my counselor advised me to stay back a year to make high school easier (it didn’t). “So are you here with anyone?” I asked. I had never seen her by herself in the four years of high school, so I figured there was someone around that would break up our chat. “No. I came here alone,” she said. I detected a note of sadness to her words that caught me off guard. “Well, I have a table right over there. Care to join me?” I asked, mersin escort bayan holding my breath. I felt a little foolish holding my breath and waiting for her answer, like I was that fool kid, back in high school, waiting to hear if she would go out with me! “Sure, thanks,” she said with a smile. I let out that breath slowly so she wouldn’t hear how excited I was and tried to calm my nerves at the same time. Once we had gotten our drinks, we walked over to the table and I seated her before taking my own seat. We began talking and catching up on how life had treated each of us since high school. “Well, after high school I went on to a trade college where I learned computer programming and got a job here in Huntsville. I make pretty good money, I suppose. I have a nice apartment – not real big, but then it’s just me there so I don’t need much room,” I told her. “So you never got married?” she asked. “No, I never got married. So what’s your story?” I asked. “After we graduated, I moved to Chicago. I was tired of this small town life and wanted to see more. But I found out that I didn’t like ‘the big city’ after all, so I moved back down south a year or so later to Augusta, Georgia. I liked it there… it was warm like Huntsville, but bigger and more to do. I lived there for several years. I met my ex husband there and fell in love and got married,” she said. “Ex-husband?” I inquired. “Yeah. We were married for about eight years, but I found out that he couldn’t keep his eyes – or his hands, for that matter – off other women. I caught him cheating a couple times and after the third time, I told him I wanted out. At the divorce hearing, I learned that he had a couple of kids from some of these other women.”Anyway, I took him to court and got my divorce. We had one son together – Michael – who I got sole custody of because he didn’t fight for custody. I got a good settlement with alimony and child support. He also got nailed for the child support for the other two kids. But now all the kids are grown up. Michael just started college himself this year. He wants to get a degree in Business Management and is going to a college in St. Louis. He is really smart and I am so proud of how he turned out, despite his father!” she said. “I see. So you never remarried?” I asked. “No. For a long time I had trust issues, thanks to that asshole. Once I came to terms with that… well it was just too late, I guess. All the good guys were taken!” she said, looking down at her drink sadly. “Not all of them,” I said quietly, mostly to myself. But she heard me, I guess, because she looked up with a half-smile, “No, not all of them.” Just about the time the conversation began to get “heavy”, the band played a song that Denise loved. “Oh Phil, I love this song! Dance with me, please!” she said. I wasn’t real good at the fast dances – never have been. But I figured what the hell what can I possibly lose? “Okay, I’ll dance this one with you, but I get to pick one, too,” I said. “That sounds fair enough,” she said. So I got up and took her by the hand, leading her out onto the dance floor. I didn’t do too bad, surprisingly; at least, Denise had no complaints. I danced a couple songs with her, then we sat back down at our table, and I went up to the bar to refresh our drinks. By now the evening was wearing on and people began filtering out and headed to their homes. I noticed the crowd thinning a bit. “Seems the party is beginning to break up a bit,” I said. “Yeah, guess it is getting a bit late. They must have things to do tomorrow or something,” she said. “It’s too bad, this has been kinda fun.” “Well before you up and leave me, you owe me a dance. Sit tight, I’ll be right back,” I said, and went up to talk to the band. I came back a minute later and sat down again. “What did you do?” “I just arranged for my dance,” I told her. She smiled at me and we waited for the song that was being played to finish. “We have a song request here from Phil to Denise. Phil wants Denise to know that We’ve Got Tonight.” and then the band began playing the Bob Seger song. I stood up and held out my hand. escort mersin Denise looked up at me and smiled big and broad. She took my hand, and we went out onto the dance floor. As I slipped my arms around Denise, all my high school dreams instantly came flooding back. I had spent four long, frustrating, years waiting for a moment like this, and she felt even better than my teenaged imagination could have possibly dreamed up. I held my dreamgirl close and breathed in the scent of her hair and the sweet perfume she wore. I felt the softness of her body and listened to her breathing. If I had died at that moment, I would have been perfectly content with it. With my eyes closed, I slowly rocked us side to side, slow dancing to the music that barely penetrated my euphoric state. I had four minutes and forty seconds to enjoy this fantasy, and I wanted every one of them. I didn’t speak. I barely breathed, afraid that if I made any kind of move, this wonderful dream would vanish like the morning fog. As much as I wanted to stay right there with Denise in my arms forever, the song had to end. As the last refrains were being played, some new music made its way to my ears. “Phil, can we go someplace… someplace quieter and more private?” she asked. I had to pull back a bit and look her in the eyes, because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Denise Hawthorne was asking ME out? I tried hard not to seem too eager and maintain some sense of dignity, although every fiber of my being wanted to grab her and run full speed out of the building before she had a chance to change her mind! “Sure. Want to grab a bite to eat?” I asked. “That would be nice. These Daiquiris are getting to me,” she said, “I guess I can’t drink like I used back in my younger days!” “Oh, Denise, you aren’t that old!” I told her. “Thank you for saying that, but I am thirty-seven years old,” she said, “And I feel a lot older than that!” “That may be, but you look ten years younger than that, tops. If you don’t mind my saying so, you are still just as hot as you ever were!” I told her. And I was being honest, too. Denise looked smoking hot that night! “Oh I don’t mind you saying so at all!” she giggled. It was good to hear her giggle for a change. We took my car, so I was thankful that I’d had it detailed. We went to a little Mom and Pop diner on the outskirts of town. I knew this place well and it had good food and was always quiet; it was a good place to talk or to just get a quiet, peaceful meal. “This place has the best pot roast in town. It’s so good, it’ll make you slap your mama!” I said, joking with her. “Okay, sounds good to me,” Denise giggled again. So when the waitress came to take our order, I told her we’d have two orders of the pot roast and two sodas. “That ought to soak up some of those Daiquiris for you,” I said with a grin. We talked some more, and I asked her more about her son and about her life since high school. I wanted to know about her past marriage, because it obviously didn’t give her what she needed. I would have to do things differently if I wanted any chance at this dreamboat. She wasn’t shy about talking about it either, telling me all about his infidelities and how she caught him the first time because of an odd charge on the telephone bill. The second time it was one of his “sluts”, as she called them, calling him up mad at him for cheating on her with someone else! The two wronged women compared notes and found he had screwed them both over. And the final straw came when she took a watch in to the jewelers to get the band fixed. When she went to pick it up, the gal behind the counter brought up the wrong ticket; it seems her ex had bought a necklace for one of his bimbos, and Denise found out because the counter girl had the wrong ticket! I could tell this was a sore subject for her still, so I quickly changed the subject. “So what did you do after the divorce?” I asked. “Well, I stayed in Augusta for a couple years, but then the company I worked for folded back in ’97 and we – Michael and I – moved around some after that. Now he is off to college, so I am back here looking to come home, if home will have me back.” “Well, I know one part of home that would love to have you back,” I said. “You are still sweet, Phil. Just like you were in high school.” That statement would serve as a catalyst for what happened next. We finished our food, and I took care of the bill.

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