The Short Stories of Edward R. Doughty
Jimmy Baxter was looking forward to this Class Reunion --- the 40th Reunion of the Holbrooke High School's Class of 1963. The invitation which he received by e-mail from a friend said the event was "Dressy Casual". Since it was taking place in the month of June, Jimmy figured it was appropriate to wear a pair of khaki slacks, a short sleeve shirt with a collar and a navy blue sports jacket and that is what he wore as he entered the main entrance of Hyatt-Regency Hotel at approximately 8:15 on that June Saturday night. He traversed the hotel lobby and followed the signs that led the way to the Mellon Ballroom where tonight's event was taking place. The Class of '63 had been a large class --- almost 500 students --- so the class had reserved the largest room in town a year in advance. About 100 students were deceased or "missing" (the "missing" ones certainly didn't think they were missing as they clearly knew where they were --- but the Class of '63 had no idea where the hell they were --- so they might as well be dead). Many other classmates just weren't interested in going to a reunion --- so a turnout of about 300 people was anticipated. Of course that included spouses although' maybe 40 classmates would come stag --- including Jimmy.
As he entered the ballroom he was immediately confronted by two large women seated at two card tables on the right side of the entryway. "Welcome --- welcome!" they said in unison. "And who might you be?" Jimmy smiled and replied, "Jimmy Baxter --- just 40 years older!" "Let's see", said the fat woman in the blue dress, "we must have your name tag here somewhere." In 20 seconds she had found Jimmy's name tag and handed it to him. Jimmy thanked the rotund women and pinned the name tag on his left label as he walked towards the bar that had been set up along the right wall of the Mellon Ballroom.
In front of the bar he observed 4 men ordering or waiting for drinks. In back of the bar were two bartenders dressed in gold jackets mixing the drinks that had been ordered. Jimmy waited for his turn and then ordered a vodka and tonic. As the dark haired bartender mixed his drink Jimmy found himself standing next to a balding gentleman with glasses wearing a dark green sports jacket. "It's Steve Feinberg." the man said while extending his right hand. "Jimmy Baxter" said Jimmy as he shook the man's hand. "I didn't remember your name" said Steve "but your face sure looked familiar!" Jimmy laughed. "Well. Steve, we had a pretty big class as you will recall!" "That we did, Jimmy --- that we did!" So what are you doin' these days, Jimmy?" " Well I'm practicing law in Chicago. How about you?" "Ah yes --- the Windy City --- never been there unfortunately. But me --- I'm still a nerd. I work for NASA in Florida. "Well that's impressive, Steve. What do you do at NASA?" "Well I'm an aeronautical engineer. I'm part of the team that developed the Atlas Missile." "Man --- I am impressed!" Jimmy chatted with Steve for a couple more minutes as they both received their drinks and began to sip them. Then Jimmy excused himself by stating there were a few people on the other side of the room that he really had to talk to. "Yeah, we all gotta lotta catchin' up to do tonight!" Steve said good-naturedly as they parted.
As Jimmy strolled across the ballroom he noticed that there were clusters of red and white balloons located around the ballroom at different locations. "Red and white --- the school's colors" he recalled. He also noticed that the recorded music that was playing was all from the early sixties --- the Beatles --- The Mamas and the Papas --- and the like. A couple of fairly attractive women were seated at a table for six as he approached that table. "Hi, I'm Jimmy Baxter! Do you mind if I join you lovely ladies for a few minutes?" "Sure, Jimmy --- grab a seat" said the brunette. "I'm Wendy Symington and this is Jill Forbes --- do you remember us? We were cheerleaders." "Well I do recall seeing you at the football games, Girls --- but I really wasn't too active in school activities back then." "You look familiar, Jimmy" said the blonde --- "but I really don't remember your name. Were you in the yearbook?" "No" replied Jimmy "I was sick when they took the school pictures." "Oh, that was a shame. What are you doing now, Jimmy?" "I'm a trial attorney in Chicago." "Oh, that's nice. I have a cousin in Chicago --- Phillip Danes --- he's a doctor --- do you happen to know him?" "I'm afraid not --- it's a pretty big city. What type of medicine does he practice?" "He's an oncologist." "No, we don't deal with that type of practice very much in the personal injury field."
Just then a distinguished looking gentleman in a red sports jacket approached the table and sat next to the blonde, Jill. Jill said "This is my husband, Ken. Dear, this is Jimmy --- he's a lawyer in Chicago." The four of them chatted for the next 20 minutes. It turned out that Ken was an accountant for the largest accounting firm in Philadelphia. Ken didn't recall Jimmy either --- but as everyone said --- it was a really big class. Jimmy didn't mind that he wasn't recalled by these people --- hell, it had been 40 years and this was the first time he had been to a reunion --- and he was having a good time. He even went to the bar and bought a round of drinks for the foursome. "Where's you hubby?" he inquired of Wendy. "My ex-husband is somewhere in California the last I heard" was the reply. I've been divorced for almost 15 years, Jimmy." "Oh, I guess I misspoke!" "That's quite alright --- is there a Mrs. Baxter?" "I'm afraid not --- I've also been divorced for quite a while." "Well how about that?" Wendy smiled. Just then Ken & Jill excused themselves to go to the dance floor. "Would you care to dance, Wendy?" asked Jimmy. "I'll pass for now" said Wendy "I've been on my feet most of the day showing houses. I'm a realtor. Right now I'm just happy to sit here having a drink and listening to the old music. It takes you back and it's quite relaxing."
Ken and Jill did not return to the table. Several men and women stopped by to say hello to Wendy and it appeared that she had been quite well known in high school --- and quite popular. After awhile Jimmy returned to the bar for a third round of drinks. Wendy had been sipping Manhattans and seemed quite relaxed. Jimmy had switched to Remy VSOP Cognac after two vodka and tonics. Jimmy found Wendy quite attractive with her slim figure and delightful personality. They talked about politics, movies and their families. Eventually Jill got around to discussing her failed marriage. Her husband, it seemed was at least a borderline alcoholic. She hinted that he became somewhat violent when he had been drinking. They had had two children --- so the divorce had included a fairly nasty custody fight which Wendy eventually won. Her two daughters were both apparently happily married and living in Connecticut. Jimmy did not discuss his divorce but only mentioned that there was "an amicable parting of the ways" and that they had had no children, thankfully.
At around 10 pm the Class President took the podium and welcomed one and all. He cited several classmates that had rather impressive credentials or had achieved some distinction. He told a joke that Jimmy had heard years ago --- but it still got laughs from the class. He thanked everyone for attending and asked the class for a show of hands as to how many of them would like to hold a 45th Reunion. It was virtually unanimous in favor of holding another reunion in 5 years. After receiving a round of applause, the President left the podium and the music resumed.
Steve, who Jimmy had chatted with at the bar initially stopped by the table briefly to tell Wendy that Jimmy "was quite a guy". Steve had obviously returned to the bar a number of times since Jimmy first saw him there. Jimmy and Wendy finally danced to a couple slow numbers and they had a few more rounds of drinks. Wendy had switched to Apricot Brandy --- but they sipped their drinks slowly now and also drank their ice water to keep from getting smashed. You didn't want to do that at a high school reunion --- but invariably a number of people did.
Sooner than it seemed it was midnight and the President took the podium once again for a nice farewell speech that only ran about 45 seconds. He received more applause again and as he left the podium the music system began to play "Goodnight, Sweetheart". Jimmy asked Wendy if she would like to dance again and she accepted. She was extremely graceful on the dance floor and Jimmy noticed that they were dancing somewhat closer than they had before.
After the song was over everybody headed for the exits. Ken & Jill came over to say goodbye --- and so did Steve the Nerd. The two fat ladies at the door were kissing various people goodbye. As they walked out of the ballroom Jimmy asked Wendy if she needed a ride home. "No, but thanks, Jimmy --- I'm staying here at the hotel tonight. I didn't want to drive if I was going to have more than two drinks --- and as you can attest to I think I passed that limit several hours ago. But would you like to come up to my room for a nightcap? I have a bottle of Remy --- believe it or not --- that I brought with me in case I was having a lousy time and decided to leave the reunion early." For some reason Jimmy was not surprised at this turn of events. Maybe it was the conversations they had had --- or maybe the way they had danced together --- but her invitation was not exactly a shocker and he quickly accepted.
They walked to the rear elevator lest some classmates saw where they were going and took the elevator to the fourth floor. After entering her room Wendy took the full bottle of Remy from a drawer, peeled off the tin foil covering the top and poured some cognac into two hotel water glasses. "I apologize for the glasses --- but if I had brought a snifter --- I would've only brought one". "No apology needed, Mam.'"
It was a nicely decorated and furnished hotel room --- which was to be expected in the most expensive hotel in town. Jimmy and Wendy sat on the couch as they sipped their Remy and continued their conversation. Wendy found two more hotel water glasses in the bathroom and filled them with water for their "chasers". Jimmy even walked down the hallway and found the ice machine and returned with a bucket full of ice. For all they had been drinking neither one really felt that "high". Very good --- but not drunk. Wendy had slipped off her shoes --- and had curled her legs underneath her. "She was really attractive!" mused Jimmy.
At about 1:30 am Wendy suddenly asked "Would you like to make love to me tonight, Jimmy?" Again --- for some reason --- this did not take Jimmy by surprise. Maybe it was because they were both 58 years old and at that age there was no point beating around the proverbial bush. "You know I would --- or you wouldn't have asked" said Jimmy. "Well, then why don't we make this our last drink?" "Fine with me."
A few minutes later Wendy used the bathroom and emerged with a shorty nightgown that revealed her beautiful legs and a lot more. While Jimmy was in the bathroom he regretted not having a toothbrush. But he rinsed his mouth out with Wendy's toothpaste and felt a little better. A couple of minutes later he was making love to a lovely woman who seemed to enjoy it as much as he did. They both fell asleep almost immediately afterwards and Jimmy did end up staying the entire night. It was just as well because he knew he probably shouldn't be driving after all those drinks.
In the morning after availing themselves of Wendy's toothpaste once again they kissed each other goodbye and Wendy wished him a pleasant flight back to Chicago. Jimmy left the hotel and walked to his Mercury Cougar in the parking lot. As he drove away from the hotel Jimmy smiled as he thought of what a pleasant evening that had turned out to be. Nice people --- good drinks --- good music --- and to top it off --- he had gotten laid with an extremely attractive woman.
Jimmy did not drive to the airport because he only lived a half hour away. No, he did not live in Chicago --- nor was he a lawyer. In fact, he was a salesman in the Men's clothing department at Sears. And no --- he was not even a member of Holbrooke High's Class of '63. He was simply a crasher who went to a different reunion almost every year. And he ended up getting laid at those reunions about 75% of the time. It was amazing how easy it was to pass yourself off as a classmate at those things. You just had to make sure that it was a very large class. You clearly could not pull it off if there had been only 60 people in the class. No, it had to be the reunions of big high schools. And it worked well because nobody really wanted to deny you were a classmate or otherwise challenge your class bona fides because at such a happy gathering no one wanted to spoil the event.
Next year he planned to attend the reunion of Overbrook High and he was already looking forward to it. That school used to have very attractive cheerleaders, too.
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