“Don’t show your face at the reunion,” my landlady/mom barked as I was trying to nap on the basement couch. I’ve got it set up as a pretty sweet bachelor pad, but she comes down to do the laundry daily, which annoys me.
She said I’ve accomplished nothing and should skip my 15th high school reunion. Apparently, owning a level 80 Storm Giant in the Howling Fjord as a level 74 Warrior is “nothing.”
I went anyway. And I don’t mind saying, I rocked.
My parents get Internet, so I went to classmates.com for the 4-1-1 on my yoon. (I had taken to calling my reunion, my yoon.) I signed up and the emails started to literally trickle in. I heard through the grapevine (and by grapevine I mean obsessively Googling them) that these people are doctors, lawyers, mall kiosk managers, and other heavy-hitters. To hide the 15-year hiccup in my employment history, I fired off a fake automated message:
THIS IS AN IN-THE-OFFICE-BUT-TOO-BUSY-TO-RESPOND AUTO-REPLY FROM MR. FERRI’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT’S INTERN.
As you know, Mr. Ferri is very busy. If this is an inquiry about Mr. Ferri’s potential yoon appearance, your question will be answered in the order it was received. We cannot guarantee everyone a response. Mr. Ferri leads a busy, successful life.
Now off to get a loan. I told the guy at the bank I needed a little dinero to open a Sharper Image store. You should have heard him, “Blah blah, de-listed from the NASDAQ. Blah blah, Chapter 11.” I didn’t care if this guy was on chapter 12 of some highfalutin James Patterson literary classic. I needed cash — and I got some. I settled for a lot less dough, but I got a killer interest rate. Well — WELL — into double digits.
I rented a suit, a Velcro tie, a collared shirt, and shoes with laces not Velcro. A tux would have seemed like I was trying too hard. I wanted to keep a low profile. So after renting a white Escalade limo featuring neon ground effects and giant soaring eagles and American flags, I hit the library. The library’s cool for when I need the bathroom or to get away from the bachelor pad when my mom starts hitting me with the rolled-up classifieds. Our library has a box for collecting old cell phones. It’s for some charity. I figured if this isn’t charity, then what is? I scored an old BlackBerry and two early-1990s flip phones. They weren’t the sleekest, but they’d do. Chargers weren’t necessary.
Now I had to find two people to go with me. Luckily, I have one friend, so I only needed another person. My buddy Gary has several friends and he called in a favor to this guy Chad. Gary and Chad would pose as my Personal Assistant’s Assistant and my Personal Assistant Assistant’s Intern. I’d tell people that I gave my Personal Assistant the night off — I’d seem important enough to require three full-time stooges, yet wouldn’t look like a jerk making all three work on a Saturday.
I decided to show up late because it means you’re fashionable — even though my lime green suit already screamed fashion. Besides, if I showed early, people would think I had nothing better to do. So we sat in a Wendy’s parking lot eating $.99 Double Stacks — my treat since I still had some cash from the loan. (The rest went to pay down gambling debt.) As we chilled, Gary came up with a great idea just in case anyone asked me about my excessive weight gain since my high school days. He suggested I tell people that I dabble in acting, that the Broadway adaptation of “Coming to America” just got the green light — and that I’ll be recreating the role of the McDowell’s employee played by Louie Anderson in the film version. The yoon started at 7 p.m. and we rolled in at the fashionable time of 7:05. Turns out we could have waited a bit longer. But we helped set up, moving chairs and tables and carrying chafing dishes. The staff was appreciative.
All night, my “assistants” followed me around shouting into the dead cell phones. “Buy! Sell! Return that and exchange it for those!” Later, I learned that the stock market is closed on Saturdays.
Chad owns a laptop. He carried it around — open — and complained loudly about no Why-Fye (sp?) connection. Nice touch.
All of this sent an important message: Life doesn’t stop for Frank Ferri. I think people got that message. Especially because Gary and Chad yelled, “Life doesn’t stop for Frank Ferri,” at anyone passing by the punch and crudités. People seemed puzzled. They were probably worried that I missed an important event in Tokyo or Hoboken for this thing.
I wandered over to this guy I hadn’t seen since the yearbook photoshoot. He was voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Best Looking,” “Best Dressed” and “Most Likely to Marry a Hot Wife, Pay for Her Breast Implants, Get a Divorce, Marry a Hotter, Younger Wife and Still Get Court-Mandated Visitation Rights to the Implants He Bought for His First Wife.” I was there to carry the tripod. Anyway, this guy was bragging about being the youngest tenured professor ever at MIT. I asked him, what’s an MIT? When he told me, I tried not to laugh. Was he seriously boasting about teaching vokey? I almost asked what tenure was, but I already felt bad for him. I also respected him. He won all those awards in high school, failed in life, yet showed up to the yoon. I told him I knew some higher-ups at DeVry and slipped him my biz card.
The card was actually Chad’s — he has a job. I scratched out his info and scribbled in mine: “Prez ‘n Chair Man of the Bored,” which is the highest title possible. I sketched a little throne above the word “Chair” for emphasis.
Everything was going well until someone asked me what I did for a living. We worried this would happen, so we made a plan earlier in the Wendy’s parking lot: “Operation Get Me the Heck Out of Here.” When this nosy S.O.B. started grilling me, I gave the signal (semaphore flags and a high-pitched scream). Gary and Chad instantly appeared. Gary pretended to whisper some severe news to me. Actually, it was important: we had to have the limo back by 10 p.m. or it would cost an extra 75 bucks.
I gave a look of concern mixed with annoyance, then Chad swept me away, yelling at people to get out of our path. I worried we looked silly because no one was remotely near. But Chad told me the giggling and pointing was a good thing — like when someone from a remote Taiwanese village sees a Westerner for the first time.
Gary hung back to explain that there was an emergency in Australia — he had swiped an old history book from his dad’s bookshelf. Gary’s always thinking. He said that I’d be flying to the West side of the Berlin Wall to meet with USSR officials about ending Apartheid in South America.
Overall, things went well. You hear that mom? Things went well.
I sent out another automated message:
THIS IS AN IN-A-GULFSTREAM-JET-DO-NOT-REPLY-MESSAGE FROM MR. FERRI’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT’S INTERN.
Please forgive Mr. Ferri for his sudden departure from last weekend’s yoon. He is, after all, very busy and regrets that this sort of occurrence isn’t rare. But it comes with his job (which is hard, but not too hard because he has the intelligence to handle anything). Oh, and he didn’t have a date because he’s juggling a lot of ladies and couldn’t decide who to take.
I can’t believe I forgot to get an escort! Even the MIT guy remembered to rent a hot chick.