The old gang from preschool

February 01, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd

We are obsessed with reunions in this country. We have college reunions, high school reunions, even elementary school reunions, and yet there is no testimonial to one's seminal year in the education system: the nursery school reunion.

Attending your, say, 30-year nursery school reunion would be great because it would basically be pressure-free.

Since you and your classmates were so young back then, absolutely no one at the reunion would look familiar to anyone else.

So you wouldn't have to worry about some guy in a loud plaid sports coat suddenly laying a meaty hand on your shoulder and shouting: "Hey, remember me?! Tom Finley! We used to play with blocks together!"

Or you wouldn't be concerned about a misty-eyed woman named Vivian lurching up to you after a few drinks and saying: "Y'know, we used to see each other during fingerpainting and I had a crush on you, and you didn't even know I was alive. That hurt me so much. And I carried the hurt with me all these years, which led to two failed marriages, a substance abuse problem and a strained relationship with my two kids.

"I'm finally getting my life together, thank God. Jerome, my third husband, is a saint. But seeing you here tonight . . . it just brought back all these memories."

The beauty of a nursery school reunion, of course, is that there wouldn't be any memories to share.

Therefore, you and your classmates would pretty much leave each other alone.

No one would notice that you gained a few pounds or that you're losing your hair. Nor would they care.

There also wouldn't be any embarrassing stories passed around about the time you wet your pants on the see-saw.

Basically, this reunion would amount to 20 or so people in a ballroom with absolutely nothing in common.

Since there wouldn't be much to talk about, the whole thing, from cocktails to dinner and dancing, as well as remarks from a few classmates, would take about 45 minutes.

Even if one of your old classmates had an incredible memory, it probably wouldn't lead to much in the way of interaction.

Because no matter how perky and funny this person was, the conversation would go something like this:

"Remember that time we all made fun of the way Dave the janitor walked?"

"No, I don't remember that."

"Me, either."

"Nope, I'm drawing a blank, too."

"Well . . . how 'bout that time we put Jill's crayons on the radiator and they melted!"

"Doesn't ring a bell with me."

"No, same here. Who's Jill?"

"Maybe I was home with the flu."

Then there would be a long, uncomfortable silence, with everyone pretending to pick at his or her roast beef dinner, until finally someone says: "Anyone see 'Murphy Brown' the other night?"

At some point during your nursery school reunion, a classmate (some bigwig on the reunion committee) would take the microphone and say: "As some of you may know, our old teacher, Mrs. Montelli, was invited to this affair. But she never showed up.

"So we just made a few phone calls and . . . well, it turns out she's been dead for 20 years. After all, she was in her 50s when she taught us. I'm sorry to have to break this to you."

At this, a quiet murmur would sweep through the room, but it would mainly be an expression of curiosity.

Certainly, there would be no real outpouring of grief, since no one would have any memory of a Mrs. Montelli, let alone that she was their teacher.

Then a few more speakers would take the microphone, mostly members of the "in" clique back then -- the girl in charge of putting away the clay, the boy selected to start the record player for sing-alongs, etc.

And with that, your nursery school reunion would draw to a close.

Following this, there would be no long hugs, no solemn promises to stay in touch, no excited looking ahead to the 40-year reunion.

No, basically when it was over, you'd just stand up, put on your coat and leave.

To be polite, I guess you could wave at whoever was sitting next to you, although this would by no means be required.

After all, you wouldn't even know who that person is.

Then when you got home and your friends called and asked: "So how was the reunion?" you'd reply: "Oh, you know how these things are."

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