What's So Funny

There are far too few times in life when we're able to recognize the significance of a moment while actually experiencing it. For the most part, we're too consumed by the moment itself to give it any real reflection. Our synapses can't bear that heavy lifting: Between simultaneously taking in the new information and trying to process the endless Family Ties episodes replaying in our skull, they just give out and we become mere video cameras, recording the events as they unfold and only pondering them later from a distance, like a high school football coach with rage issues who blacks out and has to be shown highlights of himself beating the opposing mascot with a shovel. But every once in a while, we live in the moment. We watch a guy take a foul ball to the groin at a Rockies game or some hippie playing ultimate Frisbee clumsily pull a hammie, and without hesitation, we're able to say, "That was fucking awesome."

I recently experienced such a moment at my Graland ten-year reunion. What's So Funny scholars can attest that there's no love lost between me and Graland -- a place I once referred to in these very pages as a neo-fascist lacrosse-player factory -- and since I've kept in touch with most of the people I like from my class, I feel no allegiance to the school, I even find myself telling people I attended Smiley Middle School before I realize that I'm lying. You remember, don't you? I think we had the same gym teacher. You know, the black dude with the whistle?

The banquet room at the Wynkoop Brewing Co. was full of 1995 Eagles, huddling together in small groups, catching up, and for a second I was hurled back across time and space to those painful school dances, sitting alone in the cafeteria bleachers listening to "You Look Wonderful Tonight," praying for my father to pick me up early. I hovered by the free feed, greedily shoveling down finger sandwiches and bland egg-roll-like items while chugging Wynkoop beer with little consideration for how it was made, much to the disappointment of the overeducated staff. Properly sated, I headed further in. Which is how I found myself in the midst of a conversation with three female classmates about the inner workings of the donkey punch.

In this insipid-media city -- where Ward Churchill inspires entire "Files" dedicated to his stupidity -- the Donkey Den naming a burger the "Donkey Punch" quickly became the fodder of dinner parties and informed discourse alike. All Highlands Ranch was abuzz last weekend, and the Graland reunion was no different. The three girls had heard of the scandal, but only one knew what a donkey punch was -- and explained to her friends exactly what the legendary Tijuana sex act entailed, all the while keeping eye contact with me to make sure her description was accurate.

"Close," I said when she finished. "But the point of punching your partner in the back of the head is not so she passes out so you can have free rein, but so that her anus contracts, thus increasing the orgasm."

The girls, cream of the Denver crop, all blinked at me, not knowing what to say.

Fucking awesome.

I mingled with the crowd to watch the video of our graduation and subsequent reception, where, in the background of many shots, we could be seen inhaling helium from the party balloons, reveling in the momentary high. Then the whole crew headed out to the bar. Some of the girls drank Redheaded Sluts; some of the guys chatted about real-estate speculation. Everyone was happy and pleasant. Here I'd expected my classmates to be the same assholes that they were when they were children, and they were anything but. Much to my shock, they'd grown into relatively decent folk; all labels from the past had disappeared. I started feeling a bond with them.

I left.

The next day marked the more formal Graland reunion, complete with alumni lacrosse game, barbecue and long-winded speeches by whatever headmasters had managed to avoid the parent association's ax. But by the time I got there, the festivities were over. Although the smell of Anglo-Saxon still lingered strongly in the air, the place was empty. I walked the grounds alone, taking in all the new additions -- and the deletions. Preisser Field -- where I'd so fearlessly captained the baseball team, a squad of asthmatics, drama freaks and two to three athletes like myself who just hated lacrosse -- was gone. No infield, no benches, nothing. The site of my few positive Graland memories -- where my dad once hit a bomb in the father-son baseball game, only to pull up lame at third in his fervor at tearing around the bases -- had been totally erased.

In the middle of the now strictly lacrosse field, I found a stick and a ball. I picked them up and started throwing the ball against a wall as a Hispanic janitor folding chairs looked on. Eventually he headed inside. I hurled the lacrosse stick to the roof of the glorious new fieldhouse and headed for my car.

My classmates may be tolerable now, but that sport still sucks.

 
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