FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND 

FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND

It occurs to me that I’m due for my five-year high school reunion. Of course, I’m not sure if my high school even has five year reunions, because, basically, if it does, I haven’t been invited. I do not take this personally. I went to high school in a small Ohio town that to this day is scientifically characterized as “a dump.” Three months after graduation, everyone I knew left to go to either OU, Ohio State, or Miami of Ohio, and I went off to Chicago. At the same time, my parents left for the rural landscapes of Texas, so I never saw my former classmates at Winter Holidays, spring break or really, ever again. So even if they wanted to find me, I’m not sure they would know where to look. I’ve never been a big one for sending my forwarding address to, well, anyone really. And there is a reason for this. The other day I got a very strange phone call. It was proably 7 or 8 at night when the phone rang and I extricated myself from the couch, thinking grumpily, “Who is calling me?” It’s not that no one calls me, but rather that I didn’t want to talk to anyone. As it was, the chipper voice on the other end identified herself as Diana, from some department at Northwestern’s alumni relations office. “Aha,” I thought, “here it goes. They want more of my money.” I readied myself to say, “Thank you, no.” While actually at Northwestern, I made a pledge that I would not give them any more money until I had paid off every cent of my student loans, knowing that this feat would take me the better part of the next century. At one point, I had imagined that when this day came, the phone call solicitation day, I would simply drop a string of expletives and hang up. Only after a friend of mine got hired by the money grubbing office, or whatever it’s official title is, and chastized me for this plot did I revised it. But before I could hang up the phone (politely), Diana started talking about an alumni guide, and how they just wanted to verify my information before the book went to print. “Well, shucks,” I thought, “that isn’t so bad,” and I told her where I was living, as well as my profession and marital status. It wasn’t long, though, before a weird sensation came over me. The address they had was wrong. Two moves wrong, in fact. And that was beautiful. Then she asked for my phone number and I thought, “You just called it.” And then I thought, “How did they get this number?” I didn’t give them this number. And they had the wrong address. How did they get the right number? Slightly sketched out, I said, “You just called it.” She replied that it was on the first page of her computer system and she couldn’t back up so could I repeat it, “area code first, please.” So I’m still stewing over this when Diana asks me if I want my very own copy of the guide, with everybody’s info updated. I think this might be nice ... until she tells me it costs almost $100. And that there is a corresponding CD-rom that I can snag for only 20 bucks more. Fat chance. Ramen noodles are a staple of my diet. I don’t need a $100 book, unless it was going to tell me the secret of happiness, ever-lasting life, and how to turn dirt into gold. Luckily the only people I want to talk to are people whose phone numbers and e-mail addresses I already have. “No, thank you,” I said and hung up the phone. So Jennie, Tracy, Susie, when our ten-year reunion rolls around, just call Northwestern. Even if I move a billion more times before then, I have a feeling they’ll know where to find me. Shudder. ( Mary Cashiola writes about life every Friday @ memphisflyer.com. You’re invited to come along.)

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