Dear Class of 1991,
Hey, Marsh Peters here, your trusty 20th reunion chair, writing to see if I can wrangle any ‘91-ers to appear on a reunion panel. But first, I just have to get something off my chest. Can you believe it’s been twenty years? It seems like just yesterday we were arriving on Throckmorton Quad with our Macintosh SEs, our CO-ED NAKED LACROSSE T-shirts, and Doors posters—you know the one where Jim Morrison looks like he’s going to climb down off the wall and make you gay?—not to mention our hearts and minds full of dreams. I wonder, did some small part of me know, even then, that my dream was to turn Southeast Asia into what is, essentially, a giant cell phone kiosk?
Perhaps I will never know.
As reunion approaches and I battle with the Day’s Inn over group rates (not to mention with Suzanne Van Allen ‘86 to see which of us scores the Whippoorwills for Saturday night) I can tell you what I do know: I went into communications because communication is what I value most about the human experience. Of course I am not talking about people jabbering over the clang of a two-stroke diesel engine about how much they should pay for a bag of pigs’ feet, though if this exchange took place on a pay-as-you-go cell phone, I could get interested. I am talking about like-minded thinkers sharing groundbreaking ideas. Because what I love best about our class, above everything else, is all of you. And if you’re anything like me (you went to private school or a select public school in a suburb of Boston, San Francisco, New York, or Washington D.C., secretly loved the Spin Doctors, made a weeping toast with a mid-priced Zinfandel the night Obama was nominated, married late, deeply regret it but share this with absolutely no one, and waver between feelings of thrilling grandiosity and annihilating self-hatred—unless of course you are Jewish, which means you are almost like me, but Jewish) then what you love best about reunions, other than blacking out, is the way that reunion panels give us a chance to be together as a class, and to share our unique perspectives on important issues.
Actually, before going forward, let’s unpack this word “unique.” I know you’re all sitting up straight now, like Harriers with the scent of fox in your noses, saying to yourselves, “This word applies to me. I have a unique perspective.” But I’m going to gently suggest this has less to do with reality than with your unconscious response to our alma mater’s powerful brand. Anyone who took Comp 2 should remember Professor Blumenthal, and his baritone admonition echoing through magnificent Walpole-Wilson Hall, “Unique means precisely that: there is only one.”
Please look carefully over this list of Things Our Class Has (way!) More Than One Of: Someone who lost their job in publishing pretending to be interested in the internet; someone who got tired of teaching in an underfunded public school pretending to think charter schools are not late capitalism at its most insidious but in fact the answer to our prayers; someone who used to build buildings out of wood and bricks pretending they’d rather build them out of recycled shopping bags, for less money; someone living in another country who spends all day buying vegetables at outdoor markets. What else? We don’t need any more panelists who want to talk about sailing or boats. I don’t care if you paddled around the North Pole, alone, in a hollowed out moose carcass. Finally, we do not need anyone who wants to discuss turning Southeast Asia into what is, essentially, a giant cell phone kiosk, because we have that covered.
One more thing. When contacting me, if you find yourself using the phrase “transitioning from X, and getting really excited about the possibility of Y” perhaps you should not be writing, because I will be reading these at work and I do not wish to cry at work. Though if I am already drinking I may start laughing very hard and that is not good either because I think the people I supervise actually believe I am poring over risk management tables in here.
Which reminds me—confidential to the ‘91-er who wanted to have a general panel on Women in the Workplace: The class of 1978 called—it wants its reunion panel back. Seriously, do not send me stuff like that because I will google you and if you’re not pretty I will say something to myself like, “Oh, she’s so ugly, what a loser,” and forward your email to a bunch of people with HOLY SHIT written across the top. And if you are pretty I will say to myself, “Hey, she’s hot.” Then we can Skype and I will pretend my camera’s not working, and then I will masturbate.
To those of you who have written in saying that you’re freelancing, my heart goes out to you. We do have some folks working on an unemployment panel, tentatively titled “Who Moved My Cable?” and I promise to find room for it somewhere. Maybe a basement classroom near one of those bathrooms where you used to go to take a dump freshman year. Putting on my Marsh hat for just a second, I have some words of encouragement: “Help Wanted.” That’s right. If you are current on your diphtheria, hepatitis, tetanus, and yellow fever, you speak at least two of the following languages, Aceh, Lao, Bajanrese, Balinese, Mongodnow, Gorontalo, Ngaju Davak, Kalimantan, Lampung Ahi, and you can fit into a women’s size five Dacron utility pant, come and find me. I definitely have some forms for you to fill out.
As Reunion Chair, I am so pleased to have the chance to get to know better those of you I already knew a little. Will I see you at reunion? Or, as we say in Ngaju Davak, Khàwy Baw Wâo Pháa-Sǎa Ung-Kit Dai Dee? I’m just kidding. I don’t speak Ngaju Davak. That’s from BabelFish. I think it means, where’s the bathroom? Oh, I can actually answer that: It’s right next to your panel.
Go Purple and White!