I still remember exactly where Peter sat in junior high French class, with his floppy 80’s hair and class clown personality. When we had to pick a French name, he picked Poseidon, delivered with nasal Parisian accent. Poh-see-DOHN.
The ever charismatic Adam, not to be outdone, chose Zeus. I had met him back in fourth grade, when he earned the dubious distinction of being That Guy Who Cut Hebrew School Class Every Week to Go Play Video Games and Finally Got Caught. He’s perhaps the most loyal friend I’ve ever known, and would lie down on a railroad track for any one of us.
Although hopefully it would be an old, non-functioning railroad track with no third rail.
Jon is quite literally my oldest friend, the former object of many high school crushes, and he used to have great fun intimidating my boyfriends with the knowledge that he had naked photos of me. Even if they were baby pictures. Sam is as sweet and kind as he is tall–and he is damn tall. When he told me he was becoming a preschool teacher I remember thinking that the world’s parents should be so lucky to have him in their children’s lives. As for Jen, she was the actress of the class with the opera-ready voice and the thing for bad boys. Instead of dating them now, she’s representing them in legal disputes. Seriously. Like, Tommy Lee bad boy.
There are a few others with varying colorful careers and lives, from accountants and doctors to actresses and NBA bigwigs. Our relationships with one another vary. But it’s amazing how, having graduated in the John Hughes era, as a group we all remain in close contact. We see each other a few times a year, generally for Super Bowl Sunday or a wedding, or to rally around an out-of-town visitor. We bring the kids, and we drag the spouses (some of them second…or third spouses, which is happens when you’re decrepit like we are), but this week was different.
This week we all gathered at a midtown bar, perhaps for the first time that I can recall, without wives. Without husbands. Without (gasp) kids.
It was the night I so so needed.
We dished about classmates–Who’s gay, who’s divorced, who’s moved back home with parents at 41, who had a ridiculous fight on Facebook, who’s going to be the next Real Housewife of NYC. We revealed real estate woes and relationship struggles. We shared family photos on our iPhones. We compared hairlines. We laughed about nearly everything until we clutched our stomachs, falling back on the low banquets and wiping tears off the pleather bolsters.
Reapplying mascara would have been futile.
In this group, I probably feel the most me that I ever do. I would imagine they do too. No one puts on airs. No one has to be On. And no one is above a good, hard, merciless ribbing.
You just can’t fake it when you’re with people who remember your frizzy hair, remember your braces, remember you crying over stupid boys or mean teachers or the time you put your mom’s Datsun into reverse instead of drive and wrapped it around a basketball pole. In a way, it’s almost like I am still that girl, for better for for worse, and we are still sitting around the cafeteria table, flicking french fries at the passers-by and laughing.
If I could go back to my ninth-grade self, I would say, Self? You may not be the most popular girl or the smartest girl or the one who always has someone to dance with when Freebird comes on. You’re not gong to marry the rich guy or be the girl with the most cake. You are who you are. And that someone is not so bad.
You’re doing something right, when these are the people you’ve drawn into your life.