A Brief Recap: I am attending my elementary parochial school reunion in Toronto involving classmates with whom I have not in been contact for fifty-seven years.
A little backstory on how this reunion came about:
Three or so years ago, I wrote a post featuring one of my Toronto Hebrew Day School classmates, and a Toronto friend, a regular reader of this blog, forwarded it to him. Apprehensive about his reaction, I was relieved when my former classmate was magnanimously unperturbed, and I went happily on with my life.
A few months later, my Toronto friend delivered a message from that very same former classmate. He wanted to know, she relayed to me, if, the next time I was in Toronto, I would be interested in getting together with as many members as he could assemble of our original class.
(My former classmate’s procedure of inquiry smacked of Victorian Era “Social Etiquette” – no direct communication, messages transmitted exclusively through an intermediary.)
At that point, I was only marginally enthusiastic about such a gathering. I am not, by nature, a big “reunion” kind of a person. Why not? Too much inescapable reality. I mean, if my former classmates are old, what exactly does that make me?
Expressing interest in his proposal, I explained – via our intermediary, of course – that, although I was indeed planning a visit to Toronto, I would be leaving immediately for a “road trip” up to Northern Ontario with my older brother and his lovely wife, visiting our old summer camp and Algonquin Park, the incomparable setting for our numerous canoe trips.
My ultimate message to him concerning the reunion: No – unfortunately – can do. But possibly next time.
Like all good excuses, mine was fundamentally credible. But deep inside, there was an undeniable sensation of cowardly avoidance.
Dissolve To: A Couple of Years Later
Dr. M – my wonderful wife, for new readers – is traveling to London where, in the company of two lady friends, she will attend the world-famous “Chelsea Flower Show.” I have minimal interest in world-famous flower shows, so I decide to give that particular adventure a pass.
But I wanted to do something.
Not entirely sure why, I send an e-mail to my Toronto friend and – here we go again, “Victorian Courtesy”, combining the polite distance from personal intrusion with the protective insulation from possible rebuff – I ask her to contact my former classmate, to find out if he was still interested in a reunion.
It turned out that he was. And, being conscientious and capable, my former classmate jumped into immediate action – spreading the word, locating a restaurant delivering the “Lowest Kosher Denominator” – an eatery acceptable to the most observant of the participants – sparing no effort to maximize the number of reunion attendees.
The man was an absolute “Whirlwind of Accomplishment.” Me, my contrast, doing nothing more than re-planting the seed. Then wondering immediately if I had made an irreparable mistake.
What exactly had I been thinking? I mean, we shared a common history, but so what? We had all followed our various paths, and those paths – at least for me – had not intersected for half a century, plus seven additional years.
The wheels, however, were inexorably in motion. Ready or not, the Toronto Hebrew Day School “Class of ‘58” reunion was becoming a reality.
A week prior to my departure, I made an appointment for a reunion-attending haircut. My hair stylist – I know how that sounds but that’s what he calls himself. (Though, by birth, English, he is also a member of an Indian – from actual India, not the kind on the reservation – religious sect. Whenever I see him, I get a haircut and a bonus spiritual “blessing.”)
Anyway – and I apologize for the sentence two sentences ago not having a predicate – before he began, I explained to my haircutter to that I would be attending a Hebrew Elementary School gathering in Toronto, and I did not want a single follicle on my head that said,
My instruction was effectively unnecessary. My haircuts never say “Hollywood.” But I wanted to insure that the haircut on display at the reunion would be invulnerable to interpretation.
“Insecurity”, anyone? I got it. But what are you gonna do?
I felt genuine excitement about the upcoming encounter, but with accompanying trepidation. Who knows? They might hate me for perceived show business pretensions. They might have hated me from the beginning!
My anxiety persisted to the last minute. While cabbing from my hotel to the restaurant, I felt an uncontrollable anxiety, worrying that I had unconsciously written down the wrong address, leading to my “accidentally” missing the entire reunion.
I became aware that I wanted desperately not to miss the reunion, imagining myself racing into the “mistaken location”, screaming,
“I need you to help me get to Bistro Grande!”
My “Doomsday Fantasy”, however, as my “Doomsday Fantasies” generally do, proved illusory, the taxi efficiently delivering me to the appropriate destination. After paying the driver, I got out of the cab, inhaled a hopefully relaxing, cleansing breath, and I went into the restaurant.
I was directed to the back, where a private area had been reserved, a metal door separating our party from the remainder of the restaurant.
I momentarily hesitated. A few seconds later, I placed my hand on the doorknob,
And I stepped into Yesterday.
Tomorrow: I know. I overwrote again, and will require a third installment. “The Rule of Threes” appears inescapable; it is how stories naturally lay out.
Tomorrow is definitely the “Finale.”
I am pretty sure of that.