Words with friends
This past weekend, East Washington High School’s Class of 1963 held its 50th reunion. It was a three-day event, no, a three-day achievement, made possible through the tireless efforts of two ’63 classmates, Nancy McCreight and Ann Hughes Crouse.
The classes at East Washington were small, averaging about 35 to 38 students, so when a reunion is held it is not uncommon to include other classes. This year, the classes of 1962 and 1964 were invited. I, as a member of the class of 1965, was there because I happen to be married to a ’64 graduate.
The festivities began with an informal get-together Friday night at the George Washington’s Pioneer Grill, followed by a dinner Saturday night at The Golf Club of Washington and concluding with a brunch Sunday at the Century Inn in Scenery Hill.
It was great to see people I had not seen in years, especially two foreign exchange students – Juan from Argentina and Britt from Norway. There were others, too, whose presence made the weekend worthwhile, even though they were not in my class.
The reunion weekend small talk was quite typical: Are you still with the newspaper? “Yes,” I said, responding to that question from many of the classmates who have long retired. “Yes, I am still working in the Waynesburg office.” The questions were well-intended, but I thought I needed to spice things up a bit, so I discussed an incident that occurred a while back at a local eatery in Waynesburg. Maybe I could impress my questioners because isn’t that what reunions are about? There was some embellishment for effect, considering I mostly write for a living, but generally this is what occurred.
I began by relating a converstion I overheard at a nearby table.
I wasn’t paying much attention to what these two people were talking about, until one said, “You know, I went to the ATM machine and could not remember my PIN number.”
Perhaps it was just a bad day, I don’t know, but for some reason I blurted out, “You know, that is a double redundancy.”
“What do you mean, redundant?”
“You know, PIN number,” I said. “PIN stands for Personal Identification Number, so what you said was Personal Identification Number number. And ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine.”
The diners at that table lowered their eyes and went back to eating their lunch. Did I go too far? No, don’t think so.
A few tables away from the PIN, ATM people, two women were talking loud enough that I couldn’t be accused of eavesdropping. One woman said to the other, “I think I am really getting old. I have so much trouble kneeling down.” Bingo!
“You know,” I said, “that was redundant.”
“You can’t kneel up,” I said. “So, kneeling down is redundant. Just say kneeling.”
Oh well, I guess I would not be engaging these two in any oral conversation about the crisis situation in Syria.
Then I was saved. Sitting just to my left, a woman said she really liked a particular television journalist. I couldn’t resist. “You know,” I said, “that phrase is probably an oxymoron.” There was laughter and all was well again.
Others who were eating nearby began offering their favorite oxymorons, such as jumbo shrimp, civil war, pretty ugly, dry wine, military intelligence and journalistic ethics (ouch), to name just a few. The person who has trouble kneeling kept staring at me throughout this exchange. I stared back and said, “I bet you don’t know the origin of the phrase, ‘to bury the hatchet.’”
The response came quickly. “You are lucky I don’t come over there and hit you with my closed fist.” Bingo!
“You know,” I said …
I am not sure I impressed my reunion questioners because I detected that some who were listening to my story were skeptical.
“Of course it’s true,” I said, thinking about what was written on the back of a T-shirt given to me by the daughter of our high school French teacher.
In white letters on a navy shirt, it said, “Trust me. I am a reporter.”
Now, it was time for all us to enjoy a fine meal at the country club. And trust me. I would be listening.
Jon Stevens is Greene County bureau chief. He can be reached at email@example.com.