I don't exactly know why we reunite, in the high-school class reunion sense of reuniting. Moth to the flame? Reliving? Settling old scores? Showing off? Revenge? Love of buffet-chicken dinners?
I'll admit that some years -- in anticipation of those five and ten year reunions -- I daydreamed of showing up in a Porsche with Cheryl Tiegs on my arm. I'll admit that -- in anticipation of those twenty and twenty-five year reunions -- I daydreamed of showing up the week I'm on the cover of Time magazine or as my latest novel is on the New York Times Bestseller list.
But this is my thirtieth and I don't think any of us feel we have anything to prove anymore. I don't think any of us take as long getting ready now -- it's just a matter of scooping up cascades of loose skin and putting it someplace more or less inconspicuous; there's not as much hair to worry about for most of us. (But there's an interesting if slightly disturbing phenomenon with the Madison High class of '73; if anything, the women look better, while the men are falling apart! It's eerie. Like the yearbook of Dorian Grey!) Like most things, life may have lost some grandeur in the process of actually being lived; like most things the reality is surprising, and often even better (for instance, my escort is a zillion times better than Cheryl Tiegs!).
I am reuniting because when it comes right down to it, these are pretty good people. These are people who've faced college years and childbirth and child rearing and mortgages and payrolls and illnesses and devastating challenges. When it comes right down to it, they're heroes, these everyday folks from our midst. Some have been surprised to find themselves divorced, some surprised to find themselves rich, some surprised to find themselves living across the country, or having stayed right here; some have been surprised to find themselves so ordinary. Some have just been surprised to find themselves. But we all admit, there have been surprises along the way. And we all admit to the great surprise, you could call it shock, of being at our thirty-year reunion!
I'm reuniting in order to be eighteen again. Just for one night, and just the good parts of being eighteen.
I'm going because Mother's Mattress Factory will play.
I don't "get down" any more. As a matter of fact if I were to get down I would probably not be able to get back up (When I break dance I stay broken; if I bust a move it stays busted . . . ). But just for one night I want the years peeled back and reeled in. Mother's Mattress Factory, the band (The name is more innocent than it may sound; it was pulled out of the air by the sister of one of the band members. Remember, this was in the era of bands with names like Strawberry Alarmclock and the 1910 Fruitgum Company.), will do that. Mother's Mattress Factory provided the soundtrack for the glory days for many of us in these valleys.
I guess being in a band makes you inherently cool. Put a guitar around my neck and a microphone in my face and maybe even I could be cool. But this band melded cool and talent and personality and came together in the most amazing way. They covered radio hits and found obscure songs (Smoke on the Water, Hold Your Head Up, Rock'n Roll Hoochie Koo, We're An American Band, Hush) that forever transport us of That Time -- youthful vigor and rage and Viet Nam with us and Watergate and growing up with all its uncertainties ahead of us -- back into our GTO's and our sea-farer jeans. Doug Porter, Larry Peterson, Jay Covington, Brad Liljenquist, Lloyd Weber, and Clarke Thompson and Scott Barrick -- to us of That Time are names etched alongside John, Paul, George and Ringo. They were soaring while earthy, good naturedly innocent while as menacing as needed, playful as the times and serious as the times, urgent and eternal.
And when they played it didn't matter that you had acne or a "D" in algebra or were dumped by your girlfriend or were broke or grounded or fearful or facing a nebulous future; they carried you away. And when they played anyone could dance like he was on Soul Train and you could be somebody and do anything and love was all you needed along with a little rock and roll and you could touch the sky and anything could happen and time stood still.
For a while. Until the music ended.
That was thirty years ago. And for just a few hours, the music will live again and we'll be eighteen, while timeless, again.
I'm reuniting in order for the carefree kid who was to get to know the middle-aged survivor I am. And because I want to hear "Hush".
From "Our Town" by Greg Palmer. Rexburg Standard Journal, Monday, July 28, 2003