Saralee Perel

Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at 

Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on

Bob Makes Quite a Splash at His Reunion

My husband, Bob, accepted an invitation to his high school reunion. He had no stereotypic concerns about weight, financial status or hair loss.

Or so I thought.

Until Sears delivered the weight set.

“You look terrific,” I said later, putting an ice pack on his aching lower back. Then I cleaned the sink before the cat could lick up the Gray-Away stuff he had slathered on his hair.

“You mean for someone my age.”

“No, honey. Well, yes.”

“I was a nerd in high school.”

“I’m not sure weight-training will change that.”

“You mean I’m still a nerd?”

“No, honey. Well - ”

By the day of his reunion, he lost 15 pounds and had grown a beard. I’ve learned that all men, upon attending reunions (or getting divorced) lift weights and grow beards.

Now, I know you won’t believe the following really happened, but I promise you it did.

The informal reunion was at a classmate’s house. Bob brought 3 cases of soda. When we pulled up, he asked me to pile all 3 cases into his arms. “It’s too heavy,” I said, but he thought he’d look unmanly if he brought them in one at a time. I can still see him, trudging up the front steps with the mega-tons of soda. With each step he slowed down. He wobbled a little to the left and then to the right, sort of looking like Lucille Ball trying to balance a gigantic fruit bowl on her head in a MGM slapstick musical extravaganza.

“I’ll help,” I said, but that was an unfortunate gesture on my part. Because as he approached the last step, he turned to me and said, “No thanks,” which resulted in him losing his balance. All 3 cases fell and exploded on the top cement step, after which gallons of soda cascaded down the stairs in a massive bubbling waterfall of fizz.

Somebody went to buy soda as we all met for a backyard barbeque. Bob lit a huge mound of charcoal. It burned brightly – very brightly – too brightly. As a classmate ran to put the top on the grill to squelch the inferno, Bob took this opportunity for his pivotal manhood moment. Like Superman, he dashed to find a hose then raced with it to the flames. But he hadn’t taken the time to notice that the hose was curled around the wrought-iron table that held hot dogs, hamburgers and basically everything we were supposed to eat.

All I could think of to do was yell, “Bob! The hose!” but that didn’t do any good. In a display of fearless youthful masculinity, he called out to everyone, “I’ve got it!”

I helplessly watched the hose tighten its grip around the base of the table as Bob sprinted toward the fire, nozzle in hand. And in ever-so-slow-motion, the table fell over, dumping food for 45 people – most of which landed in the swimming pool.

I learned some important things that day.

1. When everyone said to Bob, “You haven’t changed a bit,” they weren’t talking about his looks.

2. It doesn’t matter if we’ve put on a few pounds over the years. Who hasn’t? It doesn’t matter if we’ve become heads of businesses or our hair is thinning. What matters is that we’re happy.

3. Hot dogs float.