We're So Vain

I'm approaching a sobering event that most people make every effort to forget: the high school reunion. It's the pivotal point for just how unsuccessful you can be before someone calls you on it. You know, "Wow! You were voted Most Likely to Succeed, Andy. Are you really enjoying your work in the custodial arts?" (It's not that janitors aren't respectable; it's that Andy's under-the-senior-photo goal was to work on Wall Street.) With only a few months to go, the pressure's mounting for hoarding impressive accomplishments.

I've seen Grosse Point Blank and Beautiful Girls, so I know what to expect from the overrated festivities featuring the people who fall under the categories of Tormentors, Misfits and Small-Town Heroes. What I wonder about is the interaction between me and people I was close to years ago, when we realize that while surgically attached then, we've not seen or heard from each other since. Era aside, the situation is reminiscent of Jack Heifner's reflective and comedic play Vanities.

Joanne, Kathy and Mary, friends who were cheerleaders and later sorority sisters in 1960s Texas, are energetic go-getters and the consummate triad of friends. Meeting again in 1974, however, the pals discover that much of what they planned on, assumed and remember just isn't so.

Now, I wasn't a cheerleader, but our little group of yearbookers and newsies had a bond that seemed like it could never be broken. As the girls do in the theater's season opener, we pushed each other to excel, we confided in each other and even had heated rivalries. Years later, the real question is: Will my Joanne and Kathy be disappointed in me?

But as Circle Theatre and Heifner prove, who really gives a shit about how life turned out based on high school dreams? The fun is in seeing what similarities we still share and, if there aren't any, what differences exist between us. Cheerleaders, geeks or prom queens, at one time we were so much the same in our little cliques that it was probably hard to keep names straight. Like Joanne, Kathy and Mary, if, after this separation and ultimate test, we can still relate, then fantastic. If not, then we'll try our hardest to do it anyway and realize how "friend"--a word used all too flippantly--is really defined.

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Merritt Martin
Contact: Merritt Martin