So why, oh why, were we in Omaha? My mid-western born & bred hubby had his 30th high school reunion last weekend. His parents are still there, same house he grew up in, so we decided to extend the reunion weekend into a rare summer Omaha trip. Typically we go in the winter for one holiday or another, and he usually makes it back in the fall for one Cornhusker college football game (you can take the boy out of Nebraska, but ya can't take the Cornhusker out of the boy...eeeooowwww, that kinda sounds icky...but I digress). There's actually plenty to do in Omaha. Great museum, beautiful public garden, fun down town "old market" area...and unlike sunny Cali, the state has barely been touched by the recession and there is construction around every corner. Omaha's worth a visit if you're every traveling cross country. But again! I digress! I am supposed to be writing about what it was like to go to his reunion from the don't-know-a-soul spouse perspective.
So his reunion was essentially broken into two main outings--the casual Friday night mixer and the more formal reception at the local country club (yes, they do have country clubs there--in my naivete and smugness when I first ventured to Omaha 11 years ago, I assumed all they had was corn stalks). Let me preface by saying I really didn't want to go to either--I am a firm believer that there is absolutely no need for spouses to attend a reunion. I mean, really, how can you possibly flirt with your former high school love (and possibly the possessor of your virginity) when your wife or hubby is standing right at your side? Or how can the ol' gang reminiscence about the hilarious things that happened at band camp when every inside joke needs to be explained to the spouse with the "I can't believe you did that" expression on their face. And I had already gone to one reunion with Dave, his 20th, and spent the evening chatting with other neglected spouses while Dave chatted up his exceedingly pretty and slim (and newly divorced) former high school girlfriend at the bar.
But eventually, he won me over by promising that no way, no how, was he gonna leave me. Even with his assurances, I didn't really make up my mind to go until the week before. My thought was I'd hang at his parents' house with our daughters, watch a movie, read, whatever, while he and the guys from the football team joked about the time they almost got arrested for a dine-and-dash escapade. But I did end up agreeing to go, mostly because it seemed so darn important to him.
Ha! It was important until we got to the Friday night mixer. Overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people at the restaurant/bar (his graduating class was 700--senior alone!!) and probably half that number was at the mixer, Dave seemed to forget I was there. Immediately he was swooped upon by a tall, blue-eyed former track teammate who was probably quite the hottie in his day and was still not bad to look at, despite a hairline that was rapidly making its escape to the back of his head. I stood there, the dutiful, smiling spouse, trying to join the conversation with what I hoped were witty sallies and well-placed questions. Then a few other guys joined them, and before I knew it, I was looking up at the broad back of someone who had unquestionably been a football player.
At last Dave shouted over to me that he would get us a couple drinks at the bar, and went off with his friends. Approximately half an hour later, neither my drink or my husband were within my reach. I finally moseyed up to the bar and found the one vacant stood. I figured I could order my own darn drink. I chatted for a while with the bartender (and exceedingly good looking mid-western boy of about 22--a nice distraction) then decided to make the most of the situation. I spotted Dave in a far corner with his buddies, laughing uproariously, spilling their drinks, and clapping each other on the back. I decided not to join them, lest beer be split on the new dress I'd gotten for the occasion. I wandered around for a while, smiling pleasantly at people who couldn't figure out who the heck I was, sipping my wine, and casting about for others who, like me, were on their own.
An hour later, a group of us (the Spouse Club, we called ourselves) had gathered at a back table; me, three other wives and two husbands, and had ourselves a grand old time. It was really fun, all things considered. Nebraskans (all those in this group with the exception of myself and one husband who was from Kansas City, were from Nebraska) are warm and genuinely nice people. Everyone seemed to take their abandonment with good cheer--with the exception of one woman who seemed to get more and more P.O.'d every time she glanced at her balding, somewhat portly husband across the room. He was talking animatedly to a dark-haired, middle-aged beauty who seemed overly interested (even to me) in whatever he was saying. At last that member of the Spouse Club was annoyed enough to go home, figuring her hubby could find a ride. Yikes...
See? That is why you don't bring spouses to reunions!
At 12:30, I was ready to go home, too, but Dave was still having the time of his life so I decided to call a cab and head back to the in-laws on my own. When I found him and said goodnight, he looked guilty and stricken at the same time. "I didn't realize it had gotten so late!" he said by way of excuse.
On the way out--reason two you don't bring spouses to reunions--a pretty brunette who looked nowhere near old enough to have graduated in 1979, threw her arms around my husband and said, "I had such a crush on you in high school! I just loved you!" And when they finally pulled apart, I introduced myself with a big (if somewhat forced) smile on my face.
I'm not against a little flirting with a former flame--in fact, I think the ego boost is something we all need from time to time--but watching it happen was a little, ahem, uncomfortable.
But apparently Dave was the hit of the night, because he told me in the car on the way home that two other women had confessed similar adolescent crushes on him. And to be fair, he still looks amazing. He's super fit, hasn't lost much--if any-- hair, and is virtually wrinkle-free (the turkey!). He was one of the best looking guys at there. So I can see why a couple of women felt compelled to tell him that they'd put his picture under their pillow when they were seventeen.
The formal reunion was the next night, and upon bended knee Dave promised that we would stay shoulder-to-hip with me the whole time. Which he did--right up until another long-lost friend spirited him away to reminisce. After 20 or so minutes feeling rather like a horse's ass, someone else, not my hubby, brought me a glass of wine, told me I was a good sport, and went off to talk to someone else. Eventually I found two members of the Spouse Club from the night before (the crowd at the reunion was nearly as large as the one at the mixer) and talked with them while Dave and his friends caught up.
But it was all to the good. When Dave rejoined me at dinner, and later for dancing, he was smiling as broadly as I'd ever seen. He really had a wonderful time. Promises were made all around to keep in touch, and several of his friends asked him if he was on FaceBook yet. So after six months of telling me I needed to get a life every time I checked my friends' status updates, he is opening his own FaceBook account--at the very least to see some of the pictures everyone took.
And as for me, I doubt I will be attending his 40th with him. I stick by my conviction that reunions are for the ones invited, not the wife or husband they might feel compelled to bring along. That being said, if I hadn't gone, I would not have met the terrific spouses that shared that back table with me. I exchanged emails with a few, and perhaps we will become lifelong friends. So who knows? Maybe I will attend that 40th reunion with him after all--if only to reunite with the friends I made this weekend.