A Proustian High School Reunion

Remembrance of buffalo wings past

I’m happy to report that the 40th reunion of the Class of ’70 at Amherst (N.Y.) Central High School wasn’t cheesy, sleazy or wheezy.

There was plenty of Dopey and Happy, though.

Throughout the weekend, my pals and I laughed ourselves silly, binged on high-cholesterol snacks and Oh, Lord, did we inhale. High school been bery, bery good to us.

Naturally, we ate mounds of Buffalo chicken wings from Anchor Bar, which invented them. Hands down, they were the most popular edibles at Saturday’s shindig at Delaware Park. Like Proust masticating a Madeleine, I could feel my taste buds memorizing each hot, dripping morsel of meat.

A la Recherche du Chicken Wings (Frank) Perdu.

After four decades, the social cliques were still easy to spot – the Brainiacs; the Jocks; the Cheerleaders; the Burnouts; the Born Again’s. Unlike in high school, however, we seamlessly transcended the unspoken boundaries and actually conversed with each other.

We used words with multiple syllables. Far out.

Take Duke McGuire, our class’ legendary baseball star and all-around jock extraordinaire. In high school, my only communication with him was unintentional eye contact in the hallway. Yet there we were Friday night, chatting over a beer at Brunner’s, still the tavern of choice for underage Amherst students.

McGuire was a strapping first baseman with a monster swing and the greatest baseball nickname outside of Mickey Mantle. We all thought he was a lock for the majors, but a back injury in the minors ended his playing career.

He had his moment, though. In ‘83, “The Natural” filmed on location in Buffalo.  McGuire, like Robert Redford a lefty, was chosen to play one of Redford’s teammates. He sat next to him in the dugout. He even had a line: “Nice game, guys.”

Speaking of nice games, Twisted Shister played one of her own Saturday night.

Over the course of the evening, no fewer than four male classmates informed me – a bit too forcefully, if you ask me — that we had locked lips some time in the last century. Did I remember?, each of them asked, eyes brimming with hope.

Of course I remember, I said. I smiled. Not only that, you were the last boy I ever kissed, I said. Granted, a dubious distinction, and a false one at that; but it seemed to bring a modicum of rooster-like pleasure to each of them.

The way I figure it, a little clucking never hurt anybody. All hail, high school reunions.

GAIL SHISTER, TV columnist for the Inquirer for 25 years, teaches writing at Penn and is a columnist for tvnewser.com. She writes for The Philly Post on Tuesdays.