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Reunion Adventures - Dawn's Column
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I was having a conversation recently with a girlfriend about our upcoming class reunion. We were talking about being in our 30s and lamenting about changes in how we looked - I was actually doing more of the lamenting. Though I'm a lot the same since the last reunion, some things are now definitely different. Instead of just talking about the right dress and a suntan, now it's about the right dress and sun damage.

What is it about class reunions that make people decide they need to do things to change their everyday appearance so they can impress people they haven't seen in years? Why do we usually have to have some pending soiree that puts us on a timeline to hurry up and make ourselves look better? I think this is more prevalent amongst women.

Let's be honest, as vain as this sounds, no one wants to be the one that people talk about and wonder, "what happened?"

I remember how stressed out I was when I went to my first class reunion 10 years ago. Looking back, getting ready for the reunion should have been a cakewalk. I was young and fresh and in shape but my vanity took over. Initially, though, I thought I had no worries.

I had been looking forward to it, but Murphy's Law was in full effect on the day it took place. At the time I lived a couple of hours away and had all these things planned in advance that I was going to do to get ready for it - none of which worked out.

My boyfriend had dumped me, like, just a couple days prior - which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise - but I had already paid for his ticket. I should have made him pay - and pay and pay.

My girlfriend the hairdresser was supposed to give me a simple "up-do" that day before I left town but at the last minute something came up and she couldn't do it. She called me on my gigantic suitcase-style cell phone as I was on my way to her salon to tell me the bad news. At that point I was really upset because there aren't too many things that make a woman feel better after an ended relationship than a visit to the hair salon.

My 20-something brain reminded me that my other options weren't going to work out either. It was too late to get a new date, too late to find a new hairdresser, too early to go to the bar, and a pint of Haagen-Dazs was unadvisable before putting on a slinky dress.

What else could go wrong?

I am pretty inept when it comes to performing such tasks as putting up my hair in a style that could actually be considered a "style." Nonetheless, I decided to pick up some hairpins, which I had no idea how to use, and some bobby pins and clips, and whatever else I might need to try to get my hair into some kind of coif for the evening. I got on the road and was going to stay with some friends in town that night, a married couple who were classmates. I hoped that the female half of that relationship, my girlfriend the athlete, could help me with my hair.

While on my way, I blew a tire on the 99 Freeway through Turlock. I pulled off on the nearest exit, in the middle of the country with no gas stations, shopping centers, or farmhouses nearby. It was blazing hot outside because it was August, I didn't know how to change a tire, and by that time I was about to cry. Luckily, I had my trusty suitcase-style cell phone and an AAA membership.

The tow-truck driver showed up rather quickly due to me being a female alone on a deserted country road. He was very talkative and I lamented to him about everything that had gone wrong that day, and how my boyfriend had just dumped me and that I had to go solo to my reunion.

It was almost as good as telling my hairdresser.

He graciously pumped up my ego and said that he'd have been happy to be my date. He put the donut on my car and I drove away - no faster than 45 or 50 mph, just like he advised, which sucked because now I was in a hurry.

I finally arrived at my friends' house, running totally late and feeling harried, and my girlfriend, as I should have known, was just as clueless as I was about trying to put my hair up in some sort of fashionable way. Athletes know how to do ponytails and that's about it. No surprise there.

I think I was on the verge of tears again.

Just before it was time to leave, her mother-in-law showed up to babysit their little one and, in desperation, I asked her if she could help with my hair. She whipped my hair into a French twist in about two minutes and it looked great.

Disaster averted.

After that, things went okay. I actually had fun at that reunion and really didn't worry about how I looked. Although, the hair thing may have pushed me over the edge if it wouldn't have worked out.

It's total vanity, I know, but I am making some plans again in advance to get ready for my reunion. I'm hoping that things go more smoothly this time. My significant other, though too old to be called a boyfriend, is significantly smarter and more reliable than his predecessors. The odds of a flat tire again are unlikely and I probably won't bother with an up-do this time either.

Yeah, I look older, but it's natural and I'm better in ways that aren't necessarily visible.

Which reminds me... Just a note to classmates who attend the reunion: I now wear glasses. Well, I'm supposed to wear glasses. If I'm not wearing them and don't wave or say hello when we see each other across the room (or even if you're just a few feet away), I'm not snubbing you, it's because I don't see you. Come closer, I won't bite, I'd be happy to catch up.

Dawn M. Henley is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.