Mr. Cope's Cave: Big Reunion Tonight!... and Probably, the Last 

Man oh man, can't hardly wait.

I mean, I've already waited for 50 years, so I can wait a few more hours, obviously. What I should have said was, I just don't want to wait for tonight. I'm excited, is what I mean. Fifty-years of wondering about all those kids. The ones I haven't seen. Not in 50 years.

Like that tall, skinny kid who always shuffled down the halls trying to shove his shirttails back into his pants. Not his whole shirt. Just the back. He couldn't get into those old desks without his shirt pulling out from under his belt. It's like his back was taller than his front, and they didn't make shirts to fit that particular variety of growth spurt. He sat next to me in geometry. Richard, I think. Maybe Robert. Hope somebody thought to have name tags for us so I don't call him by the wrong name. If he's there, of course.

Then there was that girl with the wart on her forehead. I wonder if she ever did anything about that. Or the guy who played French horn in the school band with me. Clifford. Never looked where he was marching because he played with his head tilted way back. Looked like he was trying to chug something out of his horn. That's why he didn't see the dog that ran out onto the field during that one half-time show when we were juniors. Tripped over the damn thing and chipped a tooth. Poor Clifford.

I probably shouldn't bring that dog thing up when I see him tonight. You know... if he comes.

Yes sir, 50 years I've been waiting for this. I mean, some of us have stayed in touch. Some of us are still friends. So I know how those kids turned out. It's the other kids I'm curious about. The ones I sorta, barely, hardly knew back then, and haven't seen since.

No, that's not right. I saw a lot of them at the five-year reunion. And the 10-year reunion. I wasn't around for the 20-year, and if there was a 30-year reunion, somebody forgot to tell me about it.

But after five years, even 10, nobody changes that much, know what I mean? They may have gone from a flat-top to a Beatle mop, like I did, then on to a full Keith Richards. They may have lost a few pounds or gained a few pounds. They may have had a baby or two, gone to Vietnam, broken an arm getting thrown off a rodeo bull, taken to wearing disco heels and satin shirts, turned a deeper color from farming or roofing, grown a beard, had a boob job, spent some time in the pen for pot, broke a nose falling off a bike on a mission to Iowa, lost some hair, married a Jersey girl they met in grad school, gone alcoholic, gone psychotic on a bad acid trip, lost a finger to a lawn mower, gotten sad eyes from a divorce... but even after 10 years, you knew who they were when you saw them.

Fifty years, though, that's another matter. They're grandparents now. They're retired, most of them. They're all gray and wrinkly, bald or balding. Some of them may even be using walkers. They'll be dozing off during dinner. There'll probably be a constant line at the urinals. Gad, it'll be like bingo night in an assisted-living center. Why in God's name did I think this would be fun?

Wonder if it's too late to back out.

No, dammit. I've been waiting 50 years for this. There's too many of them I've been wondering about. I'm going, dammit. I can always leave early. Besides, I went out and bought those new trousers that make me look not quite so fat.

Wish it was winter. I could wear a sweater.

Wonder if Delores will be there. Delores. Delores the cheerleader. Man oh man, did I have a crush on her. Prettiest girl ever. Probably looks like dripping candle wax now. Fifty-years I've had dreams of that pretty face, and tonight it ends.

Damn, I wish I'd lost that weight I meant to lose. And borrowed the neighbor's BMW to go in. And maybe gotten a tan so I don't look quite so much like dripping candle wax, myself. Makes me wonder why I spent all those years wondering about them.

Hold on. Wait a minute. Maybe I really haven't been wondering about them for 50 years. Maybe I just started wondering about them when I heard about the reunion. And when I started thinking about who I might run into there, it just felt like I've been wondering about them for 50 years. Yeah, that seems more likely... that I really didn't give a good god damn about them until this reunion got me to thinking about them again. Yeah, that's probably it.

In fact, it doesn't even make sense that I could spend 50 years wondering about people whose names I won't be able to remember without name tags. So what do I care if they think I'm fat, or that I look like dripping candle wax? Screw them. Once this damn thing is over, we'll all go back to not giving a good god damn about one another, just like we've done for 50 years. So why should I care they won't see me pull up in a BMW. Tomorrow, it'll be done with. Tomorrow, it'll be over.

Man oh man, I can hardly wait.

I sure hope Delores doesn't come.

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