Monday, April 14, 2008

A Kafkaesque Grad Reunion in Delta,BC

by Kevin Burns

The anticipation is almost nauseating as I head towards the golf club where my twenty year high
school reunion will take place. I am almost shaking. I try to do a meditation type breathing exercise to
calm myself but it doesn't work very well while walking. I enter the building and push three in the elevator.
The doors open and a retired Canada Customs clerk is the greeter for our class reunion.
"Your name?"
"Kevin Burns."
"Place of residence?"
"Purpose of visit?"
"Well, it's my class reunion."
"Class reunion eh, got anything to declare, any valuables, tobacco, firearms, things of that nature?"
"No, nothing."
"Will you be visiting a farm during your stay?"
"Yes tonight, and I ask the questions!"
"No sir."
"All right, have a good night and stay away from the garlic dip if you want to talk to any of your friends. Next!"

The metal detector goes off as I walk in and I am forced to give up my watch to a large guy named Guido.
I didn't argue. He hands me a portable lie detector.
"What's this for?" I stammer.
"All the grads have one, it's so we'll all stay on the level. We don't want any Romy and Michelle stuff going
on tonight. This is a quality affair."
"Alright gotcha."

God I walk in, and all the women are now blondes, even the Asian women. I go up to the bar and to my
horror they are only serving American beer. I opt for water which all Canadians know amounts to the same

Before the reunion I had this nightmare. All my friends were retired and I was still the stockboy at Canadian tire.
I explained to them, "I get free clothes with every set of tires I buy." They weren't impressed. Thankfully it was
only a nightmare.

WWF is playing on the TV monitor and many of the guys are gathered round it cheering, explaining the woman
pounding that guy in the corner is from Surrey. She obviously isn't from South Surrey or that would have been
pointed out.

Boy what a strange reunion and I haven't even really talked with anyone yet, other than the surly former
Canada Customs clerk from Hell's Gate. I go and get seconds of those cute little sandwiches. The waitress
walks by me and says, "pig." I could walk out now, but oh no---- it's Martha, the most boring grad ever. Plants wilt
when she talks to them. She's really nice but she clogs up the conversation arteries with her incredibly dry as
a desert stories about Moose Kidney, Saskatchewan. Don't get me wrong, Moose Kidney is a swingin' town in
it's own way, but the woman talks and talks about people I don't know, nor care about. I don't want to know
the details of Uncle Herbert's hernia operation.

The homecoming queen walks in with her cane. She's a big assed lesbian but her biker girlfriend is gorgeous.
My attention is drawn away from her though, Guido the killer pimp is voted most successful Grad. I realize he is
the one wearing my watch. Ha ha, the last laugh is on him, it's a Casio!

I change my mind about getting thirds of the cute little sandwiches when I realize the entymologist has proudly
displayed his bug collection next to them. He explains the intricacies of every bug and our aging principal falls
asleep in the tuna casserole. I try to liven up the proceedings with a bug joke, "I had African Sicklets once, but I
got over it." No one laughs. I slink off and try to find out what time it is. No one seems to be wearing a watch
except for Guido the killer pimp. I wonder how he made all that money?

It can't be, it's the beautiful Jennifer, the one I pined for, the one I dreamed of during grade 10 chemistry class
and really every other class too. No wonder I could never concentrate in school. I go up to her.
"Jennifer I had the biggest crush on you in grade 10."
"Sorry I don't remember you."
"That's okay. Would you please excuse me? I have to go outside and step in front of a bus."

I'm crushed and try to console myself by talking with my best friend Shane. He pats me on the back and says,
"You look exactly the same." Which loses its' impact because he can't stop laughing. So I've lost a little hair
and gained a few pounds. He still has a pug nose!

I leave Shane and go up to some grads I never really talked to during high school. I introduce myself and the lie
detector starts ringing. The damn thing won't stop! I feel my face turning red and all the grads gather round me,
staring at me accusingly. The principal wakes up from his entymologically induced slumber, and staggers up to me;
(not realizing he has tuna casserole all over his face). The absurdity of the situation causes me to laugh hysterically.
Principal Stebbings asks: "Is there anything you'd like to tell us young man?"

I'm saved when Martin Epp draws the attention off me as he grabs the mic and proclaims, "I've seen God and he lives
in Surrey." All the lie detectors immediately go off, except mine. This quasi-religious experience ends when
Martin is dragged off by Guido to the principal's office, where he must listen to Barry Manilou for the rest of the night.
I remember thinking, I couldn't survive that kind of treatment.

Principal Stebbings grabs the mic and gives a short speech, he draws the loudest applause when he states:
"I'm so proud of this grad class, as half of you are out of prison." Guido doesn't look pleased. Perhaps he
mistook the bug collection for the hor d'oerves.

That can't be, not it isn't,... Paula Smith, the most beautiful girl at school is now the size of a Smythrite. No bigger than a
Smythrite, that was a typo.

I check the TV monitor, and the girl from Surrey has won the bout and now there's one of those cheap Canadian TV
commercials on--you know the one's where the owner has paid and starred in it himself."I'm High Profit Pete,
and have we got a deal for you! Look at all these cars. Feeling strapped for cash? Don't worry,
you don't pay this year, you don't pay next year, you don't pay ever! We gotta be crazy, we're just givin' them away!"

Some men in white suits come on screen and drag High Profit Pete away.

I lick my wounds and I decide to leave. I gotta get up early and find High Profit Pete's used car lot in the morning.