Very few things lurking in the shadows of life in this country involve so much personal terror than the thought, the prospect of the High school Reunion! The prospect of an up-coming reunion, maybe the 10th High school reunion, is about as daunting for some people as any possible life crisis.
For Stephanie Carson, the issue of a 10th High school reunion was just not on. She simply wasn't interested, not in the slightest.
She told herself that any number of times and she was now telling that to her best girl friend, from those High school days, Joan Wilson.
"No, Joanie," Stephanie said with emphasis. "I'm not going!"
"But, Steff," Joanie said, "You have to!"
"Why?" Stephanie asked, trying to not let her exasperation show.
"Because!" Joanie said.
"That's your answer, 'because'?" Stephanie said, a bit wide eyed.
"High school was such a bad time," Stephanie said, "I don't want to be reminded of that in any way."
"Okay," Joanie went on, "The reunion is all about showing people, whom you might not have liked at all, that you've made it. That you're doing great, and looking great! It's what it's for, and for those reasons, you need to go and get a chance to stare down some people and show them the new you!"
This at least made Stephanie stop and think.
(In high school and going into high school, through her earlier days in jr high school, Stephanie Carson was fat, not hugely fat but fat never the less. She was short and fat. She was popular with various girl friends, like Joanie, but was not in the social whirl at all. She wasn't asked on dates; she wasn't pursued by the guys. It had all been a very painful memory, and she didn't think that she wanted to be reminded of those painful memories.
The very last straw for Stephanie came when she had no date for the senior prom. Her Mom stepped in and persuaded her cousin to take Stephanie to the prom. Stephanie was mortified. She spent some of the time, before the prom, debating if it was a good idea or if it was the ultimate humiliation.
In this case, she did thank her Mom sincerely, in a talk that the two of them had.
Steph remembered that talk. It was then that she decided that she was going to take a year and begin inventing a new 'me'. She shared that decision with her Mom and her Mom was always there cheering for her.
Stephanie did put off college for a year and worked at a local place, while beginning the process of turning her life around.
That was one of the things about Stephanie Carson, once she made up her mind about something, she never engaged in half measures. She went into whatever it was with the gusto that she'd used for her studies —- she was a straight 'A' student and the salutatorian of the class, Joanie was the valedictorian.
Her life changing year involved her in new eating habits. She became a vegetarian. She also undertook an exercise program. The combination of them began to show excellent results during that first half year.
By the time she was ready for college, Stephanie had lost a good 30-35 lbs. She was thrilled to see the weight melt away, so to speak, from her hips and her butt. She kept at it also, having been encouraged by her success.
She gave herself over to athletics, while at the university. She was still a shy girl, her years as 'the fat friend' had provided her with that shyness. She had some dates but she knew herself to be still a 'work in progress' and wasn't terribly worried about it.
After the university she went to law school and did extremely well, graduating with honors and passing the state bar exam easily, after which she joined a local law firm.
She was still, at the time, living at home, and it was only after she was working that she, in a talk with her Mom, decided to get her own apartment. Stephanie was ready to get on with her life.
It was also during those years at the university and law school that she changed her exercise regime somewhat and began to do study karate. She was as avid in her karate studies as she had been in all the others: eating habits, studies, diet plan, exercise!
It took her a few years but she made 'black belt'.
All of this was precisely Joanie's point.
In the first place, Stephanie'd had a growth spurt. She grew two full inches, during the first years at the university. That had helped a great deal. It combined with her constant workouts, and diet had indeed left Stephanie taller, 5'9 " and lovely.
That was what Joanie was preaching to her that day. She was saying that the reunion was the perfect way to show herself off.
That got a giggle from Stephanie.
"Imagine me, Stephanie Carson going out to 'show myself off!"
They were both giggling now.
"Exactly!" Joanie said. "Look at you, Steff! Big boobs! Nice round ass!" (Here, Joanie patted Stephanie's butt!)
"Stop handling my ass!" Stephanie said broken by laughter.
Joanie grinned at her friend and said: "Steff, you're a drop dead fox! You've got to go and show them."
Stephanie had tears in their eyes then; she grabbed Joanie into a hug, and eventually whispered: "And just keep your hands off of my ass!"
"Rats!" Joanie said, with a grin.
"Steff," Joanie went on, "Steve and I are going. Please go with us!"
Stephanie stared at her for a few seconds, and, smiling, said:"I might just do that!"
"Goodie," Joanie said, with barely concealed glee.
When it came right down to it, Stephanie was nervous. She had a great deal of encouragement, however, from both Joanie and her Mom.
That night, after her talk with Joanie about going to the reunion, she sat down with her Mom and they talked it over.
"Mom," Stephanie had said, "My 10th High school reunion is coming up and Joanie wants me to go with her and Steve."
"Oh, sweetheart," her Mom said, "That sounds like a treat."
"I don't know," Stephanie replied, "High school was such a downer for me."
"No," Helen said, "We're not going to dwell on that. They were bad times, I mean with your Poppa's illness and the way it affected both of us. Not taking time to concentrate on yourself is the most natural thing in the world."
"Oh, Mom," Stephanie said then, "I love you so!"
They hugged and Helen said: "Okay tell me about this."
Stephanie then told her Mom what Joanie had said about how she'd changed since High school.
"Only the truth, love," Helen said.
"Look at you! Lovely, physically beautiful, successful! What you've done with yourself!"
Stephanie blushed and her Mom went on: "Why not look at this as a kind of a chance to show your accomplishments? It might even be fun, looked at in that way."
Stephanie hugged her then, holding her tight. "I wish Poppa were here!" she said softly into her Mom's ear.
"I know sweetheart! I know! You just get yourself all prepared and go to this reunion. Make both me and him proud!"
It was what finally turned the trick for Stephanie.
They began making plans: shopping for dresses and accessories. It became a project for them. At times, she had help from Joanie; at times, she had help from her Mom.
In the process, Stephanie decided to do it from the ground up. She shopped for new underwear and bought herself a version of the 'little black dress'. Both she and Joanie thought that she looked like a positive treat in the dress. When she brought it home, she also tried it on for her Mom.
"A vision!" Helen said, with joy and tears in her eyes. "You are a vision, my love!"
They also agreed that the three of them, Joanie and her husband Steve, and Stephanie would go to the reunion together.
As a matter of fact, her Mom took that day to help Stephanie get ready for the reunion, helping her do her hair and all sorts of little things.
"I'm going to leave now, love," her Mom, Helen said. "You look lovely and beyond lovely. I'm sorry that your sainted Papa didn't live to see this day."
"Oh, Momma," Steph said, hugging her Mom. "Thank you so much. I'm just so sure that Poppa will be with me tonight."
"I believe he will," Helen said, and then left Stephanie to get herself finally totally ready to go.
Joanie and Steve were precisely on time picking her up.
"My, my," Joanie said, "Don't you look marvelous."
"Just don't be standing next to me all the time," Joanie said, "Or no one will pay any attention to me!"
"I will!" Steve said, and got a kiss for his efforts.
REUNION TIME AND THE FALL OF THE SERGEANT:
Stephanie realized, initially, that she was nervous about it, especially as she approached the table that held the name tags for people attending.
One of the first reactions she got was from Beth Swain, who'd been an all around popular girl in those High school days.
Beth looked up and smiled at Stephanie, and apparently didn't recognize her at all.
"Hi, Beth," Stephanie said, "I'm Stephanie Carson."
"Stephanie," Beth said, with a totally surprised look on her face. "Why, girl! I hardly would have recognized you."
"Yes," Stephanie said with a grin, "I grew, and have taken better care of myself."
"I guess!" Beth said, rising and giving Stephanie a hug.
"Gorgeous!" is what Beth whispered into Stephanie's ear, as they were hugging.
It was the beginning of a lovely evening for Stephanie. She also, almost as soon as she entered the room, let her 'lawyer' persona shine forth. It gave her a kind of confidence and poise that she always had at the office and with clients and might not have otherwise had at this Reunion affair.
.... There is more of this story ...