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The Ladies Take Away 2011 Reunion By Storm


By Tommy Htay
For the first time in history, the ladies of the MEHSA took over the wheel and fielded the Fifth International Reunion with such feminine flair and aplomb that the menfolk there soaked in the tender loving care of the sisterhood of pantsuits, skirts and htameins like the veritable kids that they all became in spite of their greying and receding hairlines. What a crowning achievement for the principal players Lily Chen, Sally Joseph, Sheila Patail and, of course, our “Honorable” Mr. Treasurer William Chen!

First, the ladies steered us to a hotbed of fairyland called ‘the Strip’ and turned it into a New York New York wielding their magic wand of charm, grace and ingenuity. The heat indices in Las Vegas during the two days of sultry July (18 and 19) seemed to have melted cooperatively as well, along with the willing hearts of some 140 alumni and 60 some guests, mostly spouses or significant others who were in attendance.

Come to think of it, this success of the ladies is a no brainer. After all, the whole idea of MEHSA was hatched and brought to fruition by an illustrious alumna the late Juliet Teoh who was longingly given a fitting tribute for her exemplary dedication and drive at the opening ceremony.

And, talk about tributes! The word tribute, in terms of the alumni of the Methodist English High School, is synonymous with the Teohs, a family of consummate civility and civic-mindedness from its dean and doyen Cecil Teoh, our President Emeritus of both Methodist English Old Students’ Association (MEOSA) and Methodist English High School Alumni Association (MEHSA), and Kenny, our unique Webmaster, down the line … to what alphabet? So loving and charming were the Teohs in our exclusive world of the MEHS alumni that everybody who spoke even for a minute in Vegas would glorify the clan by claiming himself to be a Teoh as well.

The ladies of the Organizing Committee of 2011 had also seen to it that no stone was left unturned as far as giving thanks and tribute: Our alma mater, the volunteers, our teachers, Edwin Tut (who, for the last five years, true to his profession as a maritime captain, took us on a symbolic cruise of our school reunions’ fun and frolic), Harry Taw (who headed the Third and Fourth reunions in Thailand with a flourish), the MEHS Foundation, and the entire alumni that kept it going and who also made our international reunions enjoyable, meaningful and, at least momentarily, to be kids once more again – to go through “a rejuvenation process” – as one comely alumna put it, in an elevator on our way out.

We all have heard about what is disparagingly said by menfolk such as “the wily ways of women”, right? Well, here I want to use it in the context of a tribute to our lady organizers of the 2011 reunion. They made this same expression good, I mean in a good sense, in making the 2011 venue “the Strip” somewhat realistically true by staging Mra Tun as an Elvis Impersonator. There was Mra, standing tall in a white embroidered outfit with an Elvis hairdo, slightly open-chested baring all that he could – sans chest hair and drooping male “boobs” – belting out staple Elvis songs making everyone feel and enjoy as if Elvis himself was there performing live. Bravo, Mra, with boobs and all!

And, as if they sensed that we might conservatively feel that Mra was a bit on a sultry, saucy and seamy side (although we knew it was not even close, experienced as we all are), the ladies next attempted to “soft-soap” us with a beautiful rendition of traditional Burmese dance by one of them – a lovely Sheila Patail. How did we take it? Like suckers, we fell to their “wily ways” with a beaming smile by everyone present, of course! No offence, Sheila, my childhood friend Marianne’s little sister, you simply did great!

“Reunion Experience” 1 minute talk by the alumni. That was what was to follow after Sheila’s cultural performance, according to the program printout. And, what did we get? Stuff like “when Mrs. Logie stood tall, a cup of tea could sit well on her behinds”; “a Chinese worker’s sexcapade with his boss’s wife to relieve himself of stress”; and “how a stolen kiss from a boy to a girl in a class in MEHS landed her with a punishment of standing up on a chair and how his indiscreet act of trying to look up her skirt from below again landed her with a double punishment” and “how an alumna tried to pull a ‘take that’ stunt on an uppity-up female foreign student by teaching her a dirty Burmese word when all that she wanted to tell her male teacher who she so admired was ‘I love you'”. It was a most enjoyable moment of “kids going wild”!

Programs moved seamlessly thanks to the beautiful and articulate May Tha-Hla as MC, Marina Gaudoin and Roland Liu as Game Masters and their very fair and upright team and Bo Zaw-Win as an up to the mark professional auctioneer for the goodies that fetched a tidy sum for the MEHS Foundation.

The traditional fare of MEHS School song and the Assembly Hall favorites Viva La Compagnie, The Happy Wanderer, Kookaburra, Kuckoo and Sarasponda floated the air of New York New York’s Staten Island Room. And Bingo (won by Jon Twe Maung and Betty Teoh), Pinata Competition (won by the Judson House) and Hula Hoop (won by Michael Lim and Co.) and performances, either singing or dancing, by each class – new features – were icings on the cake for the 2011 reunion.

Class pictures (1947 through 1972), group picture, dancing, singing, games, jokes, and heart-to-heart chit-chat and reminiscences among classmates and schoolmates despite all manners and sizes of waistlines, hairlines and facial lines – the whole package — made the two-day event in the Casino-land a memorable experience.

A memorable experience? Surely, all of our alumni must have many a memorable moment throughout their school career at MEHS. And, our wise President Emeritus Cecil Teoh broached this matter and requested all attendees, both teachers and old students and MEHS alumni the world over who could not make it to the Las Vegas reunion to write down all about their memorable experiences and send them over to me (Tommy Htay) by e-mail (km****@co*****.net) for editing and compilation with an idea of putting them out in book form for posterity. I feel honored to serve as the Project Manager, as Cecil anointed me there and then.

The funny lyrics, forwarded by Sally Joseph to Lily Chen, lauding the beauty and frailities of our advancing age, rendered beautifully by our band’s ace singer to the tune of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” still lingering in my mind and silently savoring it …, I venture to think that if the 2011 MEHSA International Reunion in Las Vegas has left all of us with an indelible message this is what it is: when it comes to food (Pan Asian Pacific and Hampton Beach buffets), pure fun and admirable finesse, just leave it to the ladies and they will take us on a grand, grand ride – Viva La Compagnie!

(With due apologies to Edwin Tin Tut, Cecil Wagstaff and William Chen (who kept the accounts balanced, worked on the slide presentation with May Tha-Hla (the MC), songs for juke box and other miscellaneous too many to mention) for my somewhat biased appreciation of the ladies’ efforts although, by admission of Cecil, they all “worked their butts off” as well.)