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Wanted
Copyright 1996, Lizabeth A. Johnson. All Rights Reserved.
The hunt is on and they're out to get you. If you haven't moved to Miami, or better yet Melbourne, by this time, then grab your bags and run while you still have a chance. As a last resort, change your name. There's no time to lose-they're probably closing in on your whereabouts with radar-like precision at this very moment.

While the hunter's are not paid professionals, they're ruthless . . . and they will stop at nothing to track you down. Radio, TV, newspaper ads, the World Wide Web, former neighbors, friends, and family, even billboards all are tools that the men and women who make up your High School Reunion Committee can and will employ to remove you from their "missing person's" list.

Remember, you can't trust anyone informant's are everywhere. My independent research has shown that your own mother is most likely to turn you in to the reunion patrol, closely followed your oldest friend and your sister. The reasons behind their betrayal are simple: Your friend let's them know you've been hiding in Billings under the last name of Hathaway for the past ten years because they found her and she doesn't want to end up at the reunion alone. Your sister turns you in because she's never forgiven you for stretching her favorite hot pink angora sweater or dating Jeff, the captain of the basketball team who she had a crush on for two years. As for your mother's motive, she'll probably explain her betrayal by saying, "I was sure you'd want to go and see everyone. Was I wrong?" in that martyred tone she gets just before she launches into her "I was in labor with you for 36 hours" story. Of course, she'll conveniently forget that she still hasn't forgiven her own mother for turning her in last year to her 30th reunion committee.

On the surface, the idea to returning to your roots and seeing how everything blossomed, can sound appealing. In reality, it's more likely that you'll be seeing something that has withered and died somewhere between graduation day and the night of your reunion. People change pounds get added, hairlines recede, ideals are traded in for realities. It's not a pretty sight.

A few people I've spoken with have claimed to really be looking forward to attending their class reunion. The stories they tell after the actual event, however, make the prom scene from Carrie look enjoyable. One colleague told me about a sweltering August evening trapped her alma mater's windowless gymnasium which, not surprisingly, smelled like floor wax and sweatsocks. She spent three hours listening to the class of 79's disco favorites played at ear-shattering levels while trying to avoid dancing with the guy who used to put kick me signs on her back during French class.

Another colleague regaled me with escapades from his 20th reunion at the Holiday Inn. The highlight of the evening involved participants trying match names and photos on button with the person wearing it. The photos were so small that you had to get about six inches from the person's chest to see it clearly. The low point was his having an allergic reaction to the sauce covering the chicken they served for dinner and breaking out with hives. Trust me when I say these are not isolated incidents of class reunion terror. The most common words I hear from friends who've gone to a reunion are, "I did it once, but never again."

Unlike others, who have tried and failed, I've been able to evade the reunion patrol thus far. I managed a narrow escape during the five year roundup (I was relocating to my present hiding place), and with the tenth reunion of the THS class of '86 scheduled in a few short months, I've managed to keep one step ahead of those who are searching for me (by threatening those who know where I live with similar actions when the reunion goons come looking for them). I've always thought of high school as a way station on the road of my life. It's the people I've met, the places I've traveled, and the adventures I've found since my high school days that keep me on the road. With so much still ahead, I've never thought of looking back.

Lizabeth A. Johnson is a freelance writer living somewhere in the United States. She plans to leave the country during the week of her 10th high school reunion.

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