Friday, April 9, 2010

High School Daze: Reunions, Cocktail Sauce and Self-Doubt.


We’re the best, ain’t no maybe.
We’re the Class of 1980.

What was I thinking?

I was back in Charleston a few months ago and ran into a friend from high school.  Really nice guy.  Married.  After a couple of graciously-poured single malt Scotches, one thing led to another, and yep, you guessed it, I agreed to organize our 30th class reunion.  (That is what you guessed, right?)

What was I thinking?

It’s not so surprising that I agreed to spearhead the Fort Johnson High School Class of 1980 reunion.  I went to school with lots of exceptionally capable, energetic, well-organized folks, and many of them still live in Charleston.  They know local caterers and bartenders and DJs, and the truth is, if there’s one thing the Fort Johnson Trojans know how to do, it’s throw a party.  My friends have already unearthed people I thought we’d never track down.  You can bet my classmates will be the ones to pull this thing off.

What’s surprising is that I agreed to go at all.

High school is four years of the most fun you’ll ever have.  Forty-eight months of growth and experimentation and self-realization.  Forty-eight months of doubt and awkwardness and self-loathing.

I’d want to re-visit that why?

We graduated in 1980.  Flash forward 30 years.  You know that girl who hasn’t gained an ounce since graduation?  You hate her, right?  Well then, you’d love me.

Based on what I'm hearing from former classmates, I'm not alone.  Plainly, some of that doubt and awkwardness and self-loathing is still lodged in place.  I know.  It's not like I'm a candidate for The Biggest Loser.  Let's just say I no longer have to worry about the American Red Cross telling me I don’t weigh enough to donate blood.  My wrinkles resemble those on nearly any 47-year-old – not the crevasses I deserve after all those 6-hour days on the beach.  We'd never even heard of "sunscreen."  There was "suntan lotion" (for "deep, dark, tropical tans) and Johnson & Johnson baby oil (for sizzling, searing, blistering burns).  And my hair?  Well, it’s nothing that a bottle of Clairol Nice ‘n Easy can’t remedy.  OK.  That’s a lie.  Nothing my fabulous hair stylist can’t remedy.  (Love you, Crystal!)

You have to wonder to what extent hair salons, weight loss programs, clothing boutiques and, let’s be honest, cosmetic surgeons, rely on class reunions.  Sure, they only come around every five to 10 years, but when they do, hoo boy.  New Year’s resolutions pale in comparison.  I don’t just want to lose weight.  I want to be adorably slim, totally ripped, fabulously dressed, sophisticatedly coiffed, and, of course, ridiculously happy with my station in life.  And natch, tan.

So yeah.  I’ll be there.  But I’m not eating anything until August 7, 2010.  Well, except chai tea lattes.  And maybe sangria.

So I hope my classmates arrange to have fabulous food at the reunion.  And since we'll be in the Lowcountry, I bet some of it will require cocktail sauce.

It’ll be a bit too early for oysters, but shrimp?  Definitely.  And where there’s shrimp, there’s cocktail sauce.  And with luck, a 1980 Fort Johnson Trojan who’s a few pounds – and a few hair shades – lighter.

Cocktail Sauce (for Seafood)
There are plenty of bottled cocktail sauces out there, but I don’t know anyone who buys them.  There’s no reason to buy someone else’s cocktail sauce when you can make your own with three simple ingredients.

1 12-ounce bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons (or more, to taste) refrigerated prepared horseradish

Combine all ingredients.  Chill and serve with fresh poached local shrimp.  Or oysters.  Or even saltine crackers.  Yum.
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