My Dinner With Adults

I recently attended my ten year high school reunion. Thanks to popular culture I was under the impression that my high school reunion would feature the following things:

  • a confrontation with a bully who used to be a popular jock but now is fat and sells vacuum cleaners.
  • the realization that the girl who I had a crush on in high school is vapid and that my heart really belongs to my quirky tomboy best friend with brightly dyed hair.
  • a speech at the end of the night that is followed by a slow clap and a synchronized dance routine in a high school gym.


None of these things happened. First of all, none of my high school bullies were in attendance, because they were all in grades above mine. I can say that I have looked some of them up on Facebook though, and they all look basically the same and have cool jobs that allow them to travel the world and I hope they all die in a hot air balloon accident. There was no one girl that I had a crush on all through high school, but a series of heartbreaking courtships with several girls that all ended in friendship (I hope none of them die in hot air balloon accidents). And there were no speeches made, no slow claps clapped or synchronized dance routines danced. Instead, about fifteen of us went out to dinner and then got some drinks in Manhattan.

What did happen felt like a scene from Dinner With Andre, in which I sat and listened to my former classmates talk about the traveling they do, the incredible jobs they have and the families they’ve started. I sat back thinking for the most part, like the Wallace Shawn character. One of my friends has devoted her life to working with children with autism and aspergers. As she talked about it everyone in the room had an insightful question for her. Literally everyone. Finally, when there was a lull in the conversation, I decided I needed to say something. What came out of my mouth was this:

Did you see Rain Man? You should try that toothpick trick with the kids. If you drop toothpicks on the ground and they can count them, that means they have autism.

Either no one realized this was a joke or no one found it funny (more likely). When faced with silence and embarrassment I normally just continue talking. This instance was no exception. I continued,

Asperger’s is a funny name for a syndrome, right? It sounds like you have burgers on your butt. Which would probably be ideal for a kid, because all kids love hamburgers, you know? But childhood obesity is already such a problem in this country, right?

Luckily someone swooped in and asked another question at this point. Adulthood continued. It was as if my classmates were all at the zoo, admiring the majestic lion’s den and somehow a monkey got loose inside and started making noise and throwing his feces all over the place. It was at this point that I realized that I had forgotten to do something fundamentally important since high school. I had forgotten to grow up. For example, I doubt that anyone at that reunion still had pairs of boxers that they wore in high school that are so frayed and worn that there is literally no fabric between their thighs. Because any rational adult would throw those boxers away and buy new ones, not claim that they had invented something called The Underkilt*, with aspirations to sell it to a demographic of Scotsmen with body image issues who prefer to wear their kilts under their pants.

Many people have said that living in New York City allows people to exist in a state of arrested development**. This is true, but not an excuse. Beyond this, I spend a lot of time surrounded by comedians, who are basically professional children, trying to make a living out of silly observations and dick and fart jokes. Nonetheless, I now vow to show up to my twenty year high school reunion smoking a corn-cob pipe with a copy of the New Yorker under my arm making clever quips about tech stocks and Bristol Palin’s presidential campaign. After which I’ll queue some music and we’ll all dance in unison.

*Patent Pending.

**Ten episodes and a movie!

9 responses to “My Dinner With Adults”

  1. F. P. Smearcase says:

    Wait but you know what the final score of My Dinner With Andre is, right? It’s Wallace: 1 Andre: 0. Because about half an hour in, Andre veers from “guy with interesting stories” to “guy who won’t shut up about how wacky his life is and the famous Polish directors he knows” and then he uses the phrase “I gave the teddy bear suck” (I’m not kidding–I’ve seen this movie like twelve times) and you’re like “SHUT UP! I LIKE WALLACE SHAWN BETTER! SHUT UP!”

    So you won the reunion is what I’m saying.

  2. A White Bear says:

    I keep having these dinners with colleagues who are really thoughtful, ethical people who have come to their current situations of partneredness or solitude after a lot of hard-won soul-searching. They think about what it means to have partners and to give and take in an environment of intimacy and equality, and then they turn to me and ask me what my deal is, and I usually say something like, “Oh me? I’m sort of a bisexual, but not the kind with any ideas about why. I would say that I don’t really believe in monogamy, but that’s not true; it’s more like I can’t be bothered to give a shit about who people I’m sleeping with are sleeping with. The last even brief attempt I made at what one might generously call a relationship was well over three years ago; now it’s more like I occasionally make attempts to sleep with people when and if it seems mutually expedient, convenient, and easy, which it basically never is. I guess I’m more into pornography, these days? Is that an orientation?”

    I like the idea that we can blame New York for this. (FPS: Seriously, I wanted to stab Andre in the eye with a fork about 1/3 of the way through.)

  3. Dave says:

    That’s funny, because about 1/3 of the way into that movie I became completely fascinated with Andre. Like, before, he was just a guy telling stories. All of the sudden, I’d been sucked into his wacky narrative universe. I thought that was how the movie was supposed to work, but maybe it was the weed.

    Andrew, this post was dangerous to read with coffee.

  4. A White Bear says:

    I wonder if My Dinner with Andre makes for an almost perfect diagnostic of whether one is a pothead. If you remain on Team Wallace, you are not a pothead.

  5. F. P. Smearcase says:

    Wallacians are typologically too neurotic to be potheads. It’s true.

    I’ve been trying really hard the last week or two, though. With stuff that I think may or may not be oregano.

  6. lane says:

    i ran into wallace once at a resturant in santa fe…

    (barber goes “huh”…)

    amazing conversation, AWB you continue to amaze… your narrative imagination is … amazing….

  7. Andrew says:

    I suppose what I took from My Dinner With Andre (and I haven’t watched it in a decade) was that while Andre is full of hot air, Shawn seems to be full of nothing? Perhaps I should rewatch. I suppose per Dave and AWB’s theory, this would make sense, as I smoke pot sometimes, but not nearly enough to call myself a pothead. I was kind of dissatisfied with both characters. I would obviously prefer to have won the reunion though.

    I wonder if the same theory can be applied to Vizzini and the Dread Pirate Roberts.

  8. Tim says:

    I laughed! I cringed! It was better than Cats! I’m going to read it again and again! Thanks for this, Andrew!

    FWIW, I remember hardly anything of MDWA, except the bit about the electric blanket. I think a good word for the movie is “dopey”, so maybe it *is* best watched stoned.

  9. k-sky says:

    In high school, my mom took my friend Ty, my sister and me to New York to see Wallace Shawn’s one man show. He was strolling the lobby beforehand and came over to us. “You look a little younger than the rest of my following,” he said with interest. “We like a little Sturm und Drang in our entertainment,” said Ty, which was pretty good for a sixteen-year-old. Shawn laughed, anyhow.