As of a month ago, Mary Ellen and I planned to attend her reunion in Ohio where she would celebrate the 50th anniversary of her graduation from college.
We had talked extensively about the event, especially since Mary Ellen was one of the organizers. The truth is, we were both hiding how we really felt about the arrangements. I’ve put in parentheses what we were silently thinking when we discussed the trip.
“Mary Ellen, your reunion is getting close. Sounds like fun.” (Sounds like fun for you. For me this is about the last thing in the world I want to do.)
“Yes, Dick, I am looking forward to the evening. I sure hope you’ll enjoy it.” (I beg you: please drop me off at the front door and go find something else to do until midnight.)
“It will be great to meet your old classmates and friends, Mary Ellen.” (This will be unbearable, viewing endless photos of the grandchildren of people I don’t know.)
“Dick, I’ll be proud to introduce you as my husband.” (But, if I could just tell everyone about you in your absence, I could make you sound even better.)
“I can’t wait to hear all the stories from your friends about your campus activities, Mary Ellen.” (I need to find a bar nearby with a big-screen TV.)
“Yes, and I think you’ll get a kick out of chatting with other spouses. (Maybe all the spouses can get together and find a bar nearby with a big-screen TV.)
While it was true that I was dreading this event, I was also sensing that Mary Ellen preferred that I not accompany her. Finally, last week, we started getting honest with each other.
“Okay, let’s think about this, Dick,” said my wife. “If you go with me and simply hang around, no one will know you, you won’t know where to put yourself, and people will wonder why you look so bored and uncomfortable.”
“In all fairness, Mary Ellen, that’s exactly how I felt at my own 50th reunion. Look, I attended your last high school reunion, and you told me that friends were all asking about me.”
“Yes, they asked me if I knew the guy asleep at the bar.”
Mary Ellen then offered a compromise, suggesting I make a brief appearance, then excuse myself and go back to the hotel. I reminded her that once when I did that very thing at another get-together, she was annoyed. “I was angry because that was no way to behave at our engagement party,” she said.
She also mentioned that at her 25th college reunion, I said things she didn’t find funny. An old boyfriend told me jokingly that when they broke up three decades earlier, he started drinking. After he downed his third cocktail that evening, I told him it looked like he was still celebrating.
Now it appears I’ll be staying home for the upcoming event in Ohio. I’ll spend my time alone, drinking beer, and falling asleep in a chair.
Exactly what I would have done at Mary Ellen’s reunion.
Retired television personality Dick Wolfsie writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.