Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reunions Can Be Fun, Not Painful

DEAR HARRIETTE: I hope that "Forgetful" takes your advice about his upcoming reunion.

Two months ago, my high school class held its 4Oth reunion. I hadn't gone to any of the other reunions, and at first I declined because of the location (Maywood Park Racetrack; I don't gamble) and the fact that I use a walker for the arthritis in both my knees. The people on the reunion committee asked me to please reconsider; I would have a ride to and from the place, they said, and others would like to see me.

Well, I went -- and I don't regret it. One woman I remember had bangs and long, straight hair when we were in school together; now she has a frosted pixie haircut. But her face was the same. One lady who used to be in my homeroom division came over, and we had a pleasant 45-minute chat, catching each other up on our lives and doings. The man she married was also in my division (I remembered the name, but he was visiting elsewhere), and I told her when she was leaving to tell her husband "hello" for me.

It turns out the side of the gathering she was on had seen me come in, but since I couldn't table-hop with the walker in the crowded aisles, she came looking for me. I was touched.

When my ride and I were leaving, I met up with another of my grammar/high school classmates. She said, "I didn't know you were here!" and we talked for several minutes. The only person I didn't remember was one of the reunion committee people. But I remembered who she was when she said, "We used to sit behind each other in school." A faint but definite memory entered my thoughts.

It's no tragedy to admit you don't remember someone. I went dreading I'd be alone all night -- and I had more company in four hours than I'd had in four years. -- Looking Forward to the Next Reunion, Chicago

DEAR LOOKING FORWARD: What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it.

Yes, reunions can touch the heart. It can take a big effort to get there, as you described. Sometimes people feel self-conscious for a variety of reasons, especially about how they have aged. But attending is well worth it!

DEAR HARRIETTE: Any reunion should have name tags, then color-coordinate them to distinguish alumni from their partners. I fault the college. I do agree with your comments about what to do when meeting someone whose name you can't remember. Just be humble. -- Practical Guy, Chicago

DEAR PRACTICAL GUY: Sometimes the simplest tools, like a name tag with letters big enough to be read easily, are the most essential. Good reminder!