Thursday, August 07, 2008

COLUMN: Reunion

I'm in no mindframe to write a column. I hate to break it to you, Quad Cities, but your heroic writer is little more than a basket case this week. I've got a bit of a situation coming up, and I fess that I'm not handling it well. I'd like to pretend that I'm a perfectly cool cat under pressure, but based on the nervous habits I've got on display as I type this very sentence, not so much.

Let's see -- chewed pen cap firmly wedged in mouth? You betcha. Nails bitten down to the nubs? Yep. Fingers incessantly tapping on the table? Sure thing. The potential energy that could be harnessed from my neurotically shaking and jittery left leg might perhaps solve the global energy crisis. I sit before you a poster boy for Prozac. And all because I'm a huge dork.

You see, this weekend is my 20-year high school class reunion. And I'm not just attending, no siree. I absent-mindedly volunteered to DJ the thing. Five years ago, at my 15-year reunion, the DJ they hired, well, sucked. And stupid me decides to go up to our class president and start babbling. "You should just let me DJ the next one." "Sure, I'd love to do it. It'll be fun." The 37-year-old in me wants to go back in time and throttle the 32-year-old in me. WHY did I say such a stupid thing?

I suppose some people look forward to their high school reunions. Heck, even I've got to admit that the concept sounds pretty good in theory. You come back to your hometown. You see your old friends. You find out who got fat (me,) who got bald (thankfully NOT me,) and who ended up with the homecoming queen. Now personally, I'd take my current girlfriend over any ol' homecoming queen, but still, do I want to subject her to a group of people whose fuzzy memories are of King Dork Shane, the Nerdtastic Boychild?

Don't get me wrong. While it's true that the high school me was pretty lame, I wasn't exactly a social leper. I had a clique of friends who I got on with fabulously. We had a blast at our 15 year reunion. But of that entire clique, the population that will be in attendance at THIS reunion is precisely: me.

Brian's off living in Tokyo now with his Japanese wife. Steve's a family guy with too many commitments to make it. Mark and Jean have seemingly dropped off the planet. That leaves my old best friend, Bruce, who wanted to make it but couldn't swing travel plans in the end. It's a real shame, too, because Bruce came out of the closet a few years back, and the looks on everyone's faces were he to strut through the doors with his boyfriend on his arm might have made the whole night worthwhile.

That leaves me facing a room full of fringe friends, awkward small talk, and a bunch of guys who would still probably pick me last for flag football teams to this day. Can't wait.

Even more disturbing is the fact that I won't be able to escape if it gets particularly oppressive, since I'll be chained to a DJ booth all night. I've been trying to psyche myself up for it all week. I've DJ'ed at clubs, parties, and raves for over 20 years now. I think I can handle a little one-night get-together of some classmates, right?

One question, though -- what on Earth do 37-year-olds dance to these days? I spend my weekends spinning records to the 20-somethings in the District, and I've got their playlists down pat. But something tells me a room full of aging Galesburgers might not necessarily want to get all crunk up in this bizatch, if you know what I mean.

In preparing for this weekend, I downloaded a list of the biggest songs of 1988. Boy, did we listen to some baaaad music. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, "Head to Toe"? Does ANYONE on Earth want to hear that song ever again? "Mercedes Boy" by Pebbles? "Dirty Diana"? Al B. Sure? Rick Astley? Wow, did we have awful taste.

So I'm not really sure what to play, and there's a chance that I'm days away from yet again making a fool out of myself in full frontal view of the entire Class of '88. But after sitting here thinking about it, I've come to a brilliant realization: WHO CARES?

Let's say I go down there, play all the wrong music, and tick everyone off. Big deal. They're just people I went to school with. I don't care if they grew up to be doctors, or lawyers... or, in my case, a multi-millionaire philanthropist and crime-fighter. Well, I had to find SOMETHING to do after my years as a male supermodel and part time Tibetan freedom fighter. I mean, the view from the summit of Everest gets a little stale after you've seen it two or three times.

Yes, if there's one thing I learned from my years dating Kate Moss, it's this: Just be yourself. I don't need to make up stories or impress people. I'm just everyday average Shane Brown, retired astronaut and international spy.

There's one other thing I learned, too, but in my current capacity as Exective Vice Undersecretary to the President Pro Tem of the Senate, I'm afraid that's classified. Hopefully my classmates will understand.

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