Sunday, November 14, 2010

We ain’t what we used to be. We’re better!

This year one of the members of our teenage club decided to host a reunion dinner meeting for us on a Friday night in late October. It was timed to coincide with the 50th class reunion for those who attended one of the two high schools our club spanned. What better time to call the girls together than when some of the out-of-towners would be in Chicago?

The fact that the club reunion meeting was held in a residence in a 55-or-older complex didn’t deter our members from feeling 16 again.

In the late 1950s, it was the era of the social club. There were popular clubs, not-so-popular clubs, clubs you were dying to get into but couldn’t, and clubs that would accept almost anybody. I’m sure everyone has a different notion of where our club, the A.D.O.s, fit in.

Too much time has passed for me to remember what A.D.O. stood for, but I can remember that we were often annoyingly referred to as “After Dark Osculaters”—with osculate meaning “kiss.” Since it was the 50s, if we thought about doing more than kissing, we didn’t share that thought with anybody.

The reunion meeting would have been “called to order” at 5:30, except that, for various reasons, many of the members were lost, held up in traffic, or had trouble seeing in the dark because of cataracts. Members came from as far away as Texas, Arizona, California, Washington state, and Glenview. As they arrived, everyone embraced each other, even while asking, “Who are you, again?”

After getting over the shock of faces that, although attractive, resembled our parents rather than the ingĂ©nues we were back in the day, we all remarked on how wonderful we’re looking—and how well we’re holding up.

It got a little noisy as we all squealed with delight to hear what’s going on in each others’ lives, but, sadly, there was no Sergeant-at-Arms to shush us, and possibly fine us, for talking out of turn. Our most respected and feared Sergeant-at-Arms is one of the few who left us far too soon.

Excitement at seeing each other after so many years was so consuming, not many people consumed the lovely snacks on the coffee table. When dinner was announced, each of us grabbed a plate and marched into the kitchen, where a fabulous spread included chicken, fruit, vegetables, twice-baked potatoes, and a terrific salad made with Chinese cabbage, Ramen noodles, and slivered almonds. Dessert included many home-baked items contributed by members and other delicious pastries we gobbled up while lamenting recent weight gain.

Issues discussed included—

• Living with a retired spouse and trying to maintain one’s own space
• Keeping up with growing grandchildren's activities and sports
• Keeping fit with a personal trainer
• The wonderful, full lives we’re all leading
• Gossip about our classmates and others we used to hang out with.

Remarkably, issues not discussed during the meeting included—

• Loneliness
• Illness
• Regrets
• General kvetching.

While gabbing enthusiastically with their long-lost club sisters, not one of the members uttered the words we heard so often years ago: “I wonder who will be picking me up tonight! I hope it’s him.” (Him being defined as the crush du jour during any month of the 1950s.) We imagine that not one of the members has an inkling as to who their him was at the time—except for the ones who married their crushes.

As the evening became late night, the adjournment ritual began. It took a little longer than 1950s meetings due to enactment of the Jewish goodbye, which means leaving a gathering at least twenty minutes after announcing one’s departure. The interim was filled with “Good to see you” and “How do I get out of this development?” and “Can I follow you to the highway?” A new addition to this ritual was “Will you take some of this food home?” and “Drive safely”—thus confirming the fact that we have become our mothers.

Vows were made to keep in touch. And we will.