I was fired from my job a few hours before my 10th high school reunion, so that evening when I was asked over and over what I was doing, I said, “I’m unemployed.” At the next such gathering I attended, 15 years later, I said, “I’m in the bicycle business.” I left out the part about working so little for so little as to be virtually unemployed. Not having found a company willing to use me more was nearly shameful, but I was in great physical shape and my ego had to make do. The turnout was good, and the class picnic the next day in a forest preserve was expected to pull them out of the woodwork.
I went with a buddy out to a clearing near Maple Lake the next afternoon, and sure enough there were 40-somethings all over the place. In a situation like that—awake in mixed company—as an unattached male I was trying to get laid. I lived in Saint Paul by then and hadn’t seen any old Harlanites for years, especially former girls who were now middle-aged although they might not know it.
I went into scanning mode. For most of us, 25 years had been a long time. Scanning didn’t go well, and I was ready to head back to Saint Paul, where I had to be the next day anyway, when I scanned Flo.
Flo and I had done some hanging out in late high school, including two proms and her cotillion, but there was never much heat between us. I think we each considered the other a suitable match—not embarrassing. Flo had a killer body with the goddamn package and a way of moving that called unnecessary attention to the artful fleshiness and resiliency of herself. Did she still?
Yes, indeed. She looked in my eyes from across the clearing, and by the time she threaded her way over and put her arms around me I was wondering why we’d never gotten together. She was flawless—well-dressed, made-up, and scented.
Then I remembered why I’d never attacked her. She was well-dressed, made-up, and scented every time I saw her, even after gym. Once I’d passed by her house and stopped to say hello when I saw her in the yard. She stopped what she was doing and came over the fence where I was. She was well-dressed, made-up, and scented working in the garden. I got goose bumps when I thought of that, and I haven’t seen her since.