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Reunion was
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
I went to my 25th High School Reunion at Worcester Academy, and it was pretty good. While driving towards campus, sense-memories started flooding back. The wall, the corner pizza shop, the gates, the road winding around the quad. I wore my Doctor Who scarf so people could easily identify me, albeit in its looser 'warm weather' mode that I haven't used much since WA.

While walking across campus, I saw a familiar face, Jack Haringa, playing frisbee with his young son, Jacob, and chatting with another old friend of mine, Tom Meyer. I had been expecting to see Jack as he works at WA these days, but was pleasantly surprised to see Tom, as he wasn't in my class. Turns out there's a conference in Boston he goes to that happened to make it convenient.

After a bit, we went inside to where there was food. Naturally, Kes and Jack were book-geeking together at high intensity. It makes me so happy to see formerly-distant parts of my life connect like that :) I saw a couple folks from my class that I knew, but no one I was close to.

After lunch, Jack and Tom took off. Kes and I went to see a presentation on WA's history, which was mildly entertaining. The stuff scheduled after it seemed boring, so Kes and I wandered off. After giving her a mini-tour of Walker Hall, we wandered down to Alumni House, which was offering 'Hospitality'. There weren't actually many alumnae there at the time, so we mostly sat and chilled out for a bit. I looked through the 1985 yearbook, which contained many photos of younger WA friends I remembered. I was glad to see that the Adventurers Guild was thriving after my departure. Kes was jealous that we got to go on field trips to King Richard's Faire :)

Heading back to campus, we ran into Howard and Janet Shainheit, who recognized me by my scarf, and we chatted a bit. Howard was the best English teacher I ever had at WA. Not that I actually *liked* him -- he was an irascible old coot even then -- but I respected the hell out of him. (I should mention that during our earlier conversation with Jack Haringa--now co-chair of the English Department at WA--he had an anecdote abut moving into Howard's old classroom. He found a box which had not been touched in years, that proved to contain Mr. Shainheit's grading books from 1977 to some time in the mid-90s. Which, naturally, included all the classes that both Jack and I had taken under him...)

Janet Shainheit had been the librarian of the school during my time, and was thus very important to a bibliophile such as myself :-) She told us some about the new school library that she had helped design in the last few years before her retirement. Kes and I expressed eagerness to see it, but Janet figured it was probably closed up on the weekend. Kes and I, not taking this on faith, went down anyways, determined to break in :) We didn't actually have to break in, per se, as the door was unlocked. It was apparently deserted, however, and the dim spookiness made it feel like we were trespassing, which was fun. I was pleased to note that their fiction section was entirely genre-agnostic, with no segregation. Kes was pleased to see her old friend, the Dewey Decimal System, in use.

After that, Kes and I sat on a bench for a while and had a pleasantly wide-ranging conversation -- Muppets and horror movies and social patterns among geeks and other things as well.

That brought us to almost five o'clock, so we headed up to good old Warner Theater for the ceremony inducting Elaine (Willey) Bloom and Donald Bloom into the WA Hall of Fame. We were a bit early, so I poked around backstage, evoking many fond memories. I spoke with some people from the class of '99 who seemed to be theater folks. Apparently, by that time, the Dexter Prize Speaking Contest had gotten to be mostly pretentious and boring again. Sigh. One of the accomplishments I was proud of during my time at WA was to help make that contest more popular and enjoyable by reciting extremely silly pieces that no one got bored by. But nothing lasts forever...

As more people trickled in, I finally started to see more familiar faces. Kathy Gardiner, at the edge of my circle of friends back in the day, now teaching Biology at WA. James Lockman, good friend and fellow troublemaker. Ralph Hughes, my coach for the Dexter Prize Speaking Contest. Sonia Glazer, mother of classmate Michael Glazer, who was sadly not present, but I asked her to send him my regards.

Just as people were getting seated for the beginning of the ceremony, I spotted Miss Willey over at the side of the hall. (Yes, I know she's Elaine Bloom now -- but she will always be Miss Willey in my head.) I waved at her, and she waved back with clear recognition and happiness at seeing me that made my heart swell.

The ceremony itself was pretty good, giving each of them significant, and clearly deserved praise. But the really fun part came when Elaine and Don took the stage themselves. They make a good comedy team; he's the straight man (and very much on-script), and she's the wacky one, who is always ready with an ad-lib or a bit of snark. They had a slide show of various people and events that were important to them during their time at WA. The first picture of Miss Willey at WA had a student behind her making an extremely silly face; she commented that she always seemed to attract that sort of student -- which I can certainly attest to!

Donald Bloom talked about when he was taking Latin from Mr. Hughes at WA, and how he made "Lefty" Scaevola come alive. As Elaine observed, this was impressive, since he had died about three thousand years earlier! I myself remember good ol' Lefty from her Latin classes, so the tradition was well handed down.

Two of my best friends from Freshman year, Martha Sullivan and Anne Crowley got mentioned. Anyone got any contact info for them?

I myself got called out, in the middle of a photo of the 1983 Math Team. One of the few photos from that era where I *wasn't* wearing a scarf. All the yearbook photos were taken in late Spring, where it was really past scarf weather. Not that that stopped me from wearing it--I just didn't wear it every day. As I recall, I based the decision on when to wear/not-wear it on a complex mathematical formula, designed to be unsolvable by a classmate of mine who was determined to work it out :)

There was a picture of the Adventurers Guild from 1986, when Miss Willey inherited the role of academic advisor to the club--which I think she should have had from the start! She named a bunch of folks from that photo, including Greg "Shoe" Anderson. I was surprised that they were still calling him that in 1986. I had bestowed that nickname upon him years earlier, for no reason at all. It just occurred to me one day, that he should be called "Shoe", and I publicly dubbed him so, and it stuck. In hindsight, this strikes me as a supremely arrogant act; I hope he wasn't annoyed by it.

When Joel and Elaine were talking about their colleagues at WA, the name Joel Strogoff came up. He had worn many hats over the years, but during my time, he was Head of Discipline--the guy you Got Sent To if you were in trouble. Elaine asked if anyone present had gotten a 'Strogy-gram' (as the summons were known). I raised my hand, and she said in a shocked voice, "Alex, how *could* you!" What can I say, I was occasionally too much of a troublemaker, and did serve the occasional detention. Not very often, but definitely more than once. The details of the transgressions have faded from memory, but I'm sure I was convinced they were unfair :)

After their presentation, their was a cocktail reception in the gymnasium. I understand that gyms have nice hardwood floors, and big open spaces, so they're convenient places to park a few hundred alumni--but ye gods, the acoustics suck! It was worse during dinner, when they added a jazz quintet to the noise mix. Conversations were very space-limited.

I managed to grab a few moments with Elaine during the reception. I presented her with a copy of A Thousand Ships, the first volume of an excellent graphic novel retelling of the Trojan War. As I told her, I had found myself with a spare copy a while back, and when thinking of where it properly belonged, she came to mind as someone who would appreciate it. I hope she does. She certainly appreciated the thought! After that, she was whirled off into another conversation, very much the belle of the ball, and more power to her. Perhaps I can manage to catch up with her at greater length over email or something.

While milling about at the reception, I approached a young couple, Anthony Zarella (class of '04) and his fiancee, Elizabeth Richardson. I had been noticing her around the corners of the reunion from time to time since lunch. She looked very familiar, but I was pretty sure I didn't actually know her--she was just familiar from being female fannish body type #1 (slightly pudgy, cute face, glasses, long-ish hair). He was not as distinctive, but taken as a pair, their body language said "insecure young geek couple at a social gathering that they feel out-of-their-depth at". I phrased things more delicately than that when I approached them, but my guesses turned out to be accurate. After a little initial awkwardness, we all hit it off famously, and had some delightful conversation.

Got cornered for a while by an old classmate, Mitra Morgan. It wasn't actually unpleasant, as she asked me lots of questions about myself and (like most folks), I love to talk about myself. But she was never someone I was close to in school, and it was clear I didn't have any more in common with her now than I had then. She was at the center of a group I always thought of as "the popular girls", who were the bulk of people from my graduating class who had come to the reunion. When I realized that would be the case, I almost canceled, but I decided to go because of Miss Willey, and it turned out to be a good decision.

Really, there were only two people from the class of '84 that I had any interest in seeing (Michael Glazer and Jolayne Nadeau), and neither of them showed. And even they were not remotely the closest of my friends. I have always been strongly against age-discrimination, and that was reflected by my self-selected group of friends, who spanned a wide range of ages, and included a number of teachers.

When it was time to troop off to dinner, there was some initial confusion about whether or not there was assigned seating. My first instinct was to try and get a seat at the same table as Jack, but he didn't show up until later. But then I saw the young couple from '04, and Kes and I happily sat with them. Kathy Gardiner (Tirado) came over to explain that there *was* assigned seating, but she was ignoring it. "I'm supposed to sit with the faculty, but I'd rather sit with the people I went to school with!" Myself, given a choice between sitting at a table full of people whom I found boring 25 years ago, and sitting with an energetic young couple who were both of 'my tribe', there was no question at all. We had to do a little fast-talking when some official organizer came by to make sure everyone was at the 'right' table, but Elizabeth quickly stretched the truth *just* a bit, with a perfectly straight face, and made her go away. Yay!

While waiting for the food to arrive, there was a photographer gathering the various class groups together for group photos. As I wasn't sitting with 'my' class, and indeed had my back to those tables, I wasn't aware when their turn came. So I had the surreal and totally unprecedented experience of having all of "the popular girls" shouting my name! I got up, did my duty, and then sat back down to talk more about books with the interesting people :)

Over dinner we talked (as best we could over the jazz band and the awful acoustics) about lots of different stuff, including our love for Joss Whedon. They hadn't gotten around to watching Dollhouse yet, but were intrigued when I told them that Fox had put the episodes online for free. After dinner, there was to be some sort of an awards ceremony, but we (and the young couple) snuck out just as that was getting underway. The badly-miked podium threatened to make the audio torture even worse. They, being younger and more energetic, were headed for a showing of the new Star Trek movie; Kes and I, older and stodgier, headed home and to bed.

All in all, a successful reunion, if a somewhat unorthodox one. But then, I wouldn't have had it any other way :)
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I had always assumed you were an introvert, but this entry seems to be written by your extroverted side.

I was extremely proud that I managed to *overcome* my innate introversion in targeted, successful ways that made the overall experience better. Doesn't make me any less of an I.

Yes, Alexx has his introvert side, but then he has this equally assertive hammy side. I hadn't quite realized how hammy this was until I witnessed the rehearsals for Henry V--you have to see his Flewellyn. As I told him, it's a good thing I am not a practicing Jew, because it would be counter to my religion to be near that much ham.

*brain feels sprained*

Oh, my! I don't think I've seen the hammy side at all!

OK, I know you were in California during most of my Commedia run, but you've heard some of my storytelling. And you've seen me with the twins!

Please do come and see the show :)

Well, I expect ham when dealing with 7-yr-olds. I hope to be able to make it at least to the dress rehearsal, with the kids.

I can deploy that ham among grownups as well, when appropriate :-)

With the kids, huh? Be warned that there's a moderate amount of blood and violence, including 12-year-old Gregorian getting quite brutally murdered onstage. And there's also a lot of doubled-and-tripled roles, so if you bring them, you should explain that if someone is wearing a different costume, that means he's supposed to be a different character.

Further warning notice for the parent: Christain's portrayal of Ancient Pistol involves *frequent* and easily-imitable use of the extended middle finger.

I am not worried by this. There are a great many things the kids already know are rude; adding one more (which they'd learn soon anyway) does not disturb me.

Aside from hand gestures, and Shakespearean lewd words ("potato finger" which hardly anyone understands anyway) what else can we expect?

As I said above, lots of violence. And potentially confusing costume changes.

We are not stinting on the vocabulary at all, so it might be a good idea to talk them through the general story-line beforehand. (And Vis' vision of how to do the choruses is going to make them less helpful for filling in the plot than usual...) Unlike all modern movie directors, we are not including any flashback scenes of Falstaff and Hal hanging around with the low-lives from Henry IV, so if you want them to understand *those* references, you'll also need to explain that ahead of time.

On the other hand, even if they don't understand the nuances of story, there's enough action to (I hope) hold their attention through most of it.

I think it will probably be all right, then.

Part of the additional value here is seeing performance live, which they haven't had much of.

And Alexx's Fluellen is most excellent! You shouldn't miss it.


I remember your mom telling us that she practically squeaked when you said you were going to wear your scarf to your graduation 8-) Am tickled that you wore it again, hurray!!!

Oh wow, thanks for this recap. I can almost hear the creek of the floors in Walker Hall and have a very vivid memory of you being extremely hammy during the Dexter Prize. And I have to agree on Mr. Shainheit - best English teacher ever. Total lecher, but great teacher.

Oh, oops, this is Tamson, btw.

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