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the reunion show

Chapter One

“Dr. Mr. Logan,

You are cordially invited to attend a special presentation to your 10 year high school reunion…..”

No shit. I knew that this was coming around soon, especially since I know that 1987 plus ten equals 1997. Hey, my time in government school wasn’t a complete waste. But what in the hell was this “special presentation” nonsense? Oh…..ok, here we go. “….have been selected with seven other of your alumni to participate in a reality television program regarding the lives and times of you and your fellow classmates. If you choose to decline this invitation….”

Now why would I do such a thing as that? Why would I decline the chance to spend five weeks, according to the invite, with some of the coolest people I’ve ever known? Well let me think about it. Hmm, from eighth until the middle of my tenth grade year I was shy and pretty dorky. I had a few friends, or at least I thought I did. I mean people were friendly to me, for the most part. A couple of the jocks, one in particular, was just fucking cruel for a while. I had no real way to defend myself, being 5’11 weighing 115 pounds. What was I going to do, stab him to death with my skeleton? Then about halfway through my sophomore year I saw how much fun everyone else was having and decided, literally in one moment, to quit the shy shit. I became the “class clown.” Or more appropriately, the nerd who thinks/wishes he’s “one of them” but really is just a nerd being a goofball. But hey, at least I had more fun that way. I got to choose when people would laugh with (at) me. And I supposedly had more “friends.” Of course, I never really knew why people who seemed to have had a great time around me in school would not invite me to anything outside of it. Never to the movies or the mall, or just to hang out. Talk about the tears of a clown.

One good thing that happened to me in my junior year was I discovered how great it was to have an audience. Oh baby! I auditioned for “Grease” and actually requested that I play Eugene. Surprise! I got the part. I’d hitch up my drawers and walk really goofy (this was before Erkle, let me tell you) and talk using this really dorky voice. It cracked everyone up in the cast, jocks included, and so I actually felt good about myself. The audience loved it too, and I fed off of that on opening night. Dude, I was a giant ham and as a result got some of the biggest applause during the curtain call. Ding! I loved being a showman! Another good thing that happened during that year was that my chief tormentor, Scott, went off to some other school. That’s ok. By this time I had become such a smart ass that nobody really picked on me anymore. Go figure.

The next year, my senior year, a classmate was killed in a car accident within the first month of the year. I realized then that I was wound up a little too tight and really needed to become more laid back than I was because hey, life could litterally end before you knew it and we need to live it up. Right? Right! I started drinking then. Not like, drinking, but going out with friends and mixing whatever crap was in their folks’ liquor cabinets. I loved to be buzzed, but kept it in moderation. It was also then that Scott returned to my school. Goody gumdrops! Well, I had a bit more confidence now. Even though he hadn’t really bothered me since the 9th grade, the memories were still there. I just knew I’d stay away from him and things would be cool. It’s funny because at one time in 9th or 10th grade I’d cringe if I saw him coming down the hall towards me. Not anymore. Once I was a senior I’d just look past him; sometimes I’d even nod his way.

Anyhow, spring of my senior year rolls around and the musical is announced: “L’il Abner.” Who the frig has heard of that? I hadn’t. Of course I tried out, and got the part of Marryin’ Sam. It's the third lead and I had two solos and two duets. Plus I got a chance to really ham it up in this one. By the time it was over people told me it should be called “Marryin’ Sam” instead of “L’il Abner!” Crazy asses. But I really did have a great time and I got to make some really good friends that last quarter of my senior year. They were the “guys in the band” and they were just genuine, fun guys to be with.

I must admit that I overdid it when it came to relationships. I guess because I went for so many years without having friends who initiated contact with me that I was really immature in that department. I started to get jealous of some of the guys when they didn’t invite me somewhere, even though they did most of the time, but I thought I could deal with it. During the graduation ceremonies I was an absolute basket case. Being a member of the school chorus my self and another classmate, a girl named Adrianne, dedicated the song "Somewhere" from West Side Story to the memory of the girl who was killed in the car accident earlier in the year. Oye vey! I had to stare at a sign at the back of the gym wall to concentrate so I wouldn’t cry. When I got back to my seat I noticed that most of the guys in the band, whom I sat with, were wiping tears from their eyes.

Things were great! I graduated, knew what I wanted to do in life, finally had some friends that I felt had normal friendship feelings for me. Then I blew it. One night I got really shit-faced and started doing the “how come you don’t always ask me out,” namby-pamby, whiney bullshit thing. That was the beginning of the end of a lot of those more current friendships. As I said before I wasn’t mature enough to handle relationships. Slowly but surely I was phased out of that group.

So now that you know some of my history let’s review that list of “academic alumni” (please – fellow classmates). There’s Deanna Fuller, reputed to have two abortions after her big-footed jock of a boyfriend supposedly knocked her up. Poor girl. I guess she never heard of the “pull out” method. Dumbass. Then Tracy Matheson, annoying pain in the ass, she. True to the roots, she was a blonde. Here’s Samantha Alvarez. I don’t really remember her. Jessica Simpson – no dummies, not that one. Mike Logan, formerly a gay nerd, currently a gay stud (yeah, right); Freddie Black, didn’t really know him. Then there’s Scott Dell, former tormentor…..and finally Charlie Ross, reputed to have had sex with the biology teacher. Lucky her.

Wait… fucking way. Fuck, fuck, fuckingfuck! Scott Dell? Scott Dell??!! Yep, it was him! God Damnit! Yeah, this ought to be really interesting.

I laughed, embarrassed, as all of my bad memories of him come flooding back. In seventh grade I had just moved to the area and he was in a class of mine. I didn’t know him from Adam and all of a sudden when the teacher’s not looking he just slugs me in the back and says if I do anything about I’m history. Always did shit like that. Threw my books, busted my pencils, whatever. In 9th grade gym class he ran across the room and dove feet first at me, knocking my own feet out from under me. Shit like that. Just fucking tormented me. And now I had to spend 5 fucking weeks with him. Fuck a duck! Why me?

Give me strength, I prayed. Yes, I’m a praying man. A Christian at that. What? A gay Christian? How can that be? Well, I’m a Christian man who happens to be gay. What can I do. It’s not like I’m a member of NAMBLA. I’m a conservative guy but I don’t believe that my religious views should be pushed on to other people. How fucking annoying is that?! So I prayed for strength and the next morning it dawned on me that hey, it had been ten years and I had certainly changed quite a bit, surely these other people (Scott included) could have too. I decided that it might be fun and interesting to see some of these people again. I sent the response back with the “will be attending” box checked…..and kept my fingers crossed.

Within a few weeks I received some paperwork in the mail, basically contract crap. We were to be herded into a really cool renovated warehouse apartment on Ponce De Leon right near midtown Atlanta. Fine with me. Everyone knows that midtown is the stomping grounds for the gay man in Atlanta. I knew the apartments because I had driven by them many a time going to any one of the gay bars downtown. I enjoyed going to bars and dancing with other guys but I wouldn’t go home with any of them. I mean hell, I was just 27 but smart enough to know about the whole AIDS thing. Plus I was never really into the one-night stand scene. I had no stupid pick up lines, though I had heard a few really bad ones. I just liked hanging with people, so I’d go to the Cove, Rhett's, or wherever, with groups of friends.

I should say this though. nobody in my family knew about my being gay. I guess I figured it was none of their business. It was really silly because they wouldn’t have cared anyway. This I’ve discovered painfully late and I blame myself – but more on this later. I went to church so there were the obvious friendships there, and people that I wouldn’t tell. But I’ve never been the type of guy to let people into my private life. It just ain’t their fuckin' business!

I guess I should tell you a bit more about me in 1997. I had gone to a small conservative (of course) college and majored in history; after I graduated with my bachelor’s I went to another small college, this one in Tennessee, and got a Master’s in it. What can I say; I love history. My focus was American history and I was able to land a job at a private school in the suburbs teaching. At the time of the reunion I had been teaching for four years and really loved my job – my career. But just like man can’t live on bread alone, he can’t live alone forever, either. I needed companionship. I had a great time with my friends but none of them was quite partner material.

Back to the story…..all eight of us would be living in a really kick ass apartment, which I knew would have to be pretty big to sleep 8 for five weeks. We had to agree that if we left the building or the group to be on our own that we had to inform one of the producers so that they could tail us with a cameraman. Whatever. I guess this is what “The Real World” is like, I told myself. It could be fun, I told myself. Hell, I guess I was still a bit nervous meeting, or becoming re-acquainted with, my seven other roomies. I signed all of the paperwork and sent it back in; I was actually starting to look forward to it – nervousness aside.

What would Deanna, Tracy, Jessica, Samantha, Freddie, Charlie and Scott think of me now? Hell, fuck that. What would I think of them?

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in Mark's own words - I'm a great big goofball who loves music and loves to sing. I'm in the home building industry and have my own company. I'm not really into sports and am mostly a homebody; I like reading, watching movies and hanging out with friends. Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like to discuss my stories - or anything else for that matter. Markp>

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