Feeling Like The Homecoming Queen 20 Years Later

     "There's no way I'm going to this" I told Amy.  Here I was: freshly dumped.  Racing towards middle age without the husband, kids, house, career, or even a decent car. The very idea of the reunion forcing some dreaded tally up of my cards in the game of life.   Somehow, I'd spent the last twenty years working as a waitress.  Moonlighting as a belly dancer and burlesque vixen in my spare time.  Aside from some tattoos, and a litany of incriminating, half naked pictures, what did I have to show for myself?  High school had been challenging enough.  My home life a wreck.  My status not even on the chart.  Nobody needed to pay for bad memories, bad food, and side of reheated awkwardness.  But meeting Amy at a downtown bar instead, getting loaded, and letting the reunion come to us???   Well, that was a different story. 

    So there I was.  Hometown.  Bellied up next to Amy.  Frozen on my barstool.  Several courage cocktails in.  Battling a cruel interior dialogue that I would surely be shunned and publicly ridiculed when Cindy Middleton squealed my name and threw her arms around my neck.  I'll admit perhaps drinking all afternoon is not the way to go if you plan on having intelligent conversations with people you haven't seen in 20 years; especially when you intend to convince them your life isn't in total shambles.   But this is how we were rolling.  So I went with it.  

    "Cindy!"  Did I slur?  As cheerful and sweet as ever, she launched right in as if we'd been dishing and drinking our entire lives.  "You're in SF now right?  Doing some sort of performance I think?"  Not even a hint of admonishment in her tone.  "I look at all your photos on Facebook.  You look so glamourous for your shows!  You always were so creative."  Wow.  OK, not what I was expecting.  "Is that what you do full time?" she wondered.  I tried to make the word "waitress" sound as appealing as I could, mentioning the name of the restaurant as an afterthought.  "Are you kidding????  I've read all about that place.  It's a hot spot for celebrities right?  With a famous Chef?"  True, I wasn't Flo, taking orders while smacking gum in a greasy spoon, but bragging about my job was a novelty.  "Yeah" I nodded, slightly embarrassed.  "Gosh, I've always wanted to eat there" she gushed, "Maybe one of these days."      
    
 "What about you?" I asked, desperate to take the attention off myself.  Cindy explained.  She worked as a hairdresser and was living in Fresno.   "I really envy you living in the City!" Wish I could afford it, but it's just too expensive" she sighed.  "I wanted to buy a home, so I ended up staying in the valley."  Did I note a hint of apology in her explanation? Guess I wasn't the only one worried I'd be judged for my choices.  "It's true" I agreed, "I pay a mortgage worthy rent each month and have completely given up on the idea of owning my own.  Especially since I'm now single....".

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