Column: I know your face, just gimme a minute

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07/14/2011 6:40 AM |

What do you say to someone you haven’t seen in 40 years?

Uh, nice to see you again. Um, who are you again?

Dude, what happened to your hair?

Hey, remember that $10 I loaned you? I sure as heckfire do, and so do my buddies Sean and Seamus here.

Wow, can you believe those Mets or what?

You’ve been married how many times?

No, I don’t get up all that often at night to go. You?

I know, I know, I’ve got to do considerably better than that during the rapidly approaching first weekend of August, when my high school class, Mercy 1971, holds its 40th reunion at venues in Riverhead and Calverton.

Sweet day in the morning, 40 years? That would make me… Eh, let’s not go there.

I’ve never been to one of these things before, so don’t know what to expect. We had a 20th reunion, uh, 20 years ago, and although I was a member of the planning committee I didn’t go. It’s a long story, one devoid of logic and common sense. That’s so unlike me. I know, right?

Anyway, I’m more than just a bit antsy for one basic reason. Reunions, as I imagine ‘em, are about recounting shared experiences and then catching up. My problem is, well, high school wasn’t a particularly good time in my life. Let’s leave it at that.

When your experiences weren’t all that hot to begin with, reliving them with a drink in one hand and a plate of mini pigs in a blanket and cheese puffs of an unknown origin in the other seems on par with, say, walking into math class minus the previous night’s homework.

Gee, I’m sorry, Sister. I know I finished it during “All in the Family.” Um, not during, of course, but, uh, sometime after. I must have left it next to my “Aqualung” album. See you after class? Yeah, OK. I mean, yes, Sister.

As we all know, the four pillars of a happy adolescence are to be smart, popular, athletic and good-looking. I was on the wrong side of the bell curve on all four. Yeah, yeah, not unusual. And no, I’m not throwing a pity party. I’m just saying those four years could have been better, is all.

So absent tales of scoring the winning touchdown or outrageous behavior at a beach party, I’ll have to focus on my post-HS life.

Nothing to be ashamed of in that regard, and it seems the “A” I got on my senior year term paper really wasn’t a fluke. The topic?

“The Infallibility of the Pope.” Specifically, how it was a political decision and ergo of dubious veracity. (No, I didn’t use the phrase “of dubious veracity” back then. You think I’m nuts?)

No need to say it, I know that material hardly made me a chick-magnet. Got the nuns’ attention, though.

I was what you might call a “late bloomer.”

I now have a wife and family to brag about and like what I’m doing. But a lot of the experiences that come with this job aren’t exactly the stuff of an electrifying cocktail hour discussion: “So now here’s the rub. The applicant’s consultant didn’t follow the parameters set during the scoping hearing prior to completing the draft environmental impact statement. Talk about the stuff hitting the fan! Now as it turns out… Hey, where you going? I didn’t get to tell you about the dustup over lead agency status!”

Then again, who would believe: “After making parole, worked for a time as a test pilot, then rode my Harley out to Vegas, where I got a job as an exotic dancer. But had to turn in my cuffs and collar after the Chippendales people dragged me into court and… What’s so damn funny? No, I wasn’t a construction worker, cop or Indian. What are you driving at?”

That leaves me only one choice — walk in smiling and just go with it, like I should have in high school. Probably won’t be the only one with a dry mouth and sweaty palms, and anyway, what’s the downside? It’s not like anything I do or say will be remembered at our 50th.

“Hey, I know you! You were a test pilot and a Chippendale, right?”

You betcha. Say, what’s a Chippendale again? And who ate the last of those damn pigs in a blanket?

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