KMPC – Gary Owens – August 21, 1979 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
You’ve been there – you vacillated over whether or not to go since June. Up to the last minute you were dead-against it. But you got curious. You wanted to know. You wanted proof. You wanted a second chance. Admit it – you were hoping that one unapproachable person; the one you were in love with since 8th grade – the one you always lost nerve around – the one who stared holes through you – who looked at you like nuclear waste, or worse, like you were invisible – you wanted to know if something changed during the ensuing 10 years and that, suddenly you looked good, you looked like “the one” – your stomach wouldn’t do backflips. So you went to your High School Reunion.
You moved away from Los Angeles – settled in Santa Fe after college. Haven’t been home since Watergate. The city has changed – you changed – LAX hasn’t changed – rental cars always smell like Lysol and Windex.
Cocktail casual – tie optional – buffet – open bar. Magic words; open bar. Biggest Hotel in Santa Monica – cavernous ballroom. The officious ones in Student Council were the officious ones at the registration table. Scrutinizing lists and taking squinty confirmation the face standing in front of them was the same face on the name tag. Some it was a strain and others brought faint recognition. You got faint recognition. So far – so good.
Judging from the earsplitting shrieks, screams and howls, the action was taking place at the bar, just on the other side of the entrance. The Ballroom is old enough to tell stories – tonight it’s about people who went to the same school together. It’s massive and dark and more people are smoking than they were in 12th grade. You were reminded you had a huge graduating class. It’s an ocean of white table cloths and white candles. A Buffalo Springfield single is providing background music and nobody seems to be dancing – they never did.
Liquid courage is essential for this reunion – you snake your way up to the bar. Everyone is starting at your chest, trying to figure out if they remember you or not – eye contact is optional and only when you’re recognized. The cliques are still the cliques – the ones you didn’t like are still the ones you don’t like. You stop short of barking out your order when two people you recognize grab you and start running down a list of questions all geared to figure out how successful you’ve become.
When you finally make it to the bar you’re informed all they have left until replacements arrive is Vodka and Orange Juice. You order a double with no ice and down it one gulp. The room breathes a collective sigh of relief and nothing bothers you anymore.
You turn your head in the direction of the person jabbing you in the ribs and come face-to-face with your 8th grade fantasy. You feel your jaw drop – she is absolutely, completely shit-faced drunk. The screams, shrieks and hysterical laughing that spilled into the hallway were coming from her. She wraps you in a lip-lock that leaves you gasping for air and decides she’s going to take over your entire evening. She makes wild confessions – you had no idea she had one of those True Romance level crushes on you – at least that’s what you think she is saying. She is mostly incoherent and mumbles while she grabs you and you wonder where the breathtaking vision that kept you up most nights when you were seventeen went off to. She attaches herself to you like a tube of Epoxy while the two of you stagger around the ballroom, wondering if she’s going to pass out or alternate between crying and laughing for the rest of the night. She insists on dancing – it doesn’t go well.
She is snoring like a freight train when Room Service shows up with a pot of coffee the next morning. Check-out time is quickly coming and you have a flight to catch. When she does finally come to she looks at you with absolutely no recognition of who you are and bolts to the bathroom. When she emerges she grabs her purse, mumbles “thanks” and heads straight out the front door.
All you’re left with is a scribbled piece of paper with what looks like a phone number on it – but you can’t make the numbers out to save your life. Probably best that way. Some things are just best left as fantasies tucked away for safe keeping.
You think about that as you’re taking the rental car back to LAX. It’s only an AM radio and somebody pre-set all the stations to KMPC. At least you have Gary Owens to listen to.
You wonder what the 20th reunion’s going to be like. Don’t go there.
Here is a two hour slice of Gary Owens at KMPC from August 21, 1979.
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