Monday, March 22, 2010

Should you attend your high school reunion?

A lot of people I know have been invited recently to their various high school reunions. They all wonder whether they should go. And if the hair plugs will look natural in the next two months. It’s a hard question to answer, whether to go. I guess you have to ask yourself – how much do you want to see these people again? There’s always a risk. That cheerleader who snubbed you might not weigh more than a Ram Charger and the prom king may not be homeless. Romy & Michele might actually be doing better than you.

I’ve been to a couple of my reunions (Go Taft!!). The last one I attended was my 25th. Interesting dynamic. The statute of limitations on harboring feelings apparently expires sometime around twenty years. It was okay to admit, after all these years, that you had a crush on someone. If you admitted that to a girl back in the day you left yourself open for a devastating rejection. But now you probably make her night.

The years play tricks on your memory. I encountered one girl who said she so remembers fondly that period we were going out together. Only problem is – we never went out. I asked her but she blew me off. Big time. I have a VERY good memory when it comes to girls who had nothing to do with me.

But this put me in a very odd position. She must have thought she actually did go out with me. Why else would she leave herself open to me saying, “What are you talking about? You treated me like shit!”? So I figured she probably saw my name on TV and told people she knew me in high school. And that evolved into we were friends and eventually we were a couple.

I decided to just be gracious and agree that it was a wonderful time.

Still, as I walked away I thought, there had to be a better more pithy response than that. A few minutes later I had it but of course it was too late.

And then, an hour later, the exact same thing happened with another girl! This time I was ready. I just smiled and nodded when she told her friends what a blast we had together, how funny I always was on our dates. The only time she really laughed was when I asked her out. So I listened patiently and finally I clasped her hands in mine and said, “You know, you were only the second girl I ever slept with.” That jarred her memory. You should have seen the look of puzzlement and horror on her face. Mission accomplished, I kissed her on the cheek, wished her well, and moved on.

Sure you should go to your reunion. Where else are you gonna find moments like that?

36 comments:

Coery said...

Ken, Last time I was in LA, I stopped by Taft, walked the halls, checked out the the gym & went down to the football field. My thoughts, Gee this place is small...

Corey

Corey said...

I can't go to a reunion now...people will say "there goes that dummy who can't even spell his name...."







wv: "enarin" As in "I can't go to the reunioun because I have enarin to run"

Mary Stella said...

I encountered one girl who said she so remembers fondly that period we were going out together. Only problem is – we never went out. I asked her but she blew me off. Big time. I have a VERY good memory when it comes to girls who had nothing to do with me.

She's so lucky you chose to be gracious. You could have said, "I never thanked you properly for the STD."

My 35th reunion is in a couple of months. I feel slightly less weird about going because I've sort of gotten back in better touch with some of my classmates.

Lee Kagan said...

At my 40th reunion I stood with an old high school buddy, the former editor of our school newspaper and now chairman of the communications department at a local university, scanning the crowd. "I guess it true what they say about reunions," he observed. I looked at him quizzically. "They're for the rich and the thin."

Anonymous said...

This is my friend's great short film about hiring a stripper to show up as her for her h.s. reunion. "I Remember Andrea." http://showhype.com/video/i_remember_andrea_better/

Steve said...

I had a similar situation at my 30th reunion Ken...the captain of the cheerleaders, a stunning blonde with a great tan then...who was STILL a stunning blonde with a great tan...admitted she had a crush on me back in the day......

......so I nailed her in the hotel where we were having the reunion.

I think that was the original purpose of Facebook...to hook up those of us in our 40's & 50's with people who wouldn't give us the time of day 20 & 30 years earlier. LOL

Kathryn Paterson said...

Love this post--and laughing really hard at the hiring the stripper comment.

Oy. Reunions. I didn't go to my 20th, which was just this past year, but I wanted to. The timing just wasn't right though, and now I'm sort of glad I didn't go, considering some of the things that happened. And yes, we get enough of that from facebook.

Jason said...

It doesn't really matter much, but I hope that's a true story.

WV: mortedi: In Italy, the famous Tuesday of the Dead.

Pat Reeder said...

I grew up in a small town I couldn't wait to get out of, so I might not attend even if we had a reunion. We did have a 10th that I attended, but nothing in the 20+ years since. I guess nobody else is any more interested in seeing me again than I am in seeing them.

I did have an odd related experience recently, though: I ran into my best friend from high school whom I hadn't seen in decades. Back then, we were like twin brothers. Now, we found we had almost nothing in common and nothing to say to each other. It was so depressing that I don't need a reunion to multiply the effect.

So I've never had any former female classmates confessing they had a crush on me ages ago, not that I expect any would if I did go back. It does remind me, though, of the old National Lampoon, when the Editors used to write their own letters to the Editor. I still recall the one that read:

"Gentlemen:

I am that hot blond cheerleader who blew you off in high school. I'm now divorced, have three kids, gained 30 pounds, and am living in a trailer park. So, I wondered if you were still interested in going out?"

KEN LEVINE said...

Mine is an absolutely true story. I hope Steve's is too.

Dave said...

I went to my 10-year reunion and realized I didn't like any of these people in high school and they hadn't improved. I haven't been to any of the many reunions since.

VE: realeph - Alice Kramden's Jewish husband.

Debby G said...

My 30-year reunion from Chatsworth High is next month. Yikes.

Five years out of college, my ex-boyfriend wrote me a letter (remember those?) bragging about getting married to a beautiful woman and buying a condo and having a great job. I wanted to write back, "Not much new with me except I finally had my first real orgasm."

Nancy said...

I have a reverse version of your story --

I have a classmate who lives out in LA and is an actor - a few movies, tv shows, commercials, etc. - enough for us yokels. We hung out in the same crowd, he asked me out IN FRONT OF ALL OUR FRIENDS when we were freshman, I said "no let's be friends" and life went on as he proceeded to make my life somewhat miserable for the next 3 years.

At our 20th reunion (the 1st I went to), he was there and we were talking for awhile as we hadn't seen each other for years. I took it upon myself to confess "I really thought you treated me and (my sister) like shit for most of our school years. You were a real ass* to us". I must have thought he would agree and apologize or something because I was surprised when he walked away!

I apologized via email right after but it took me 4 1/2 years to tell ANYONE what happened. When I did they all looked at me and said "So what! He was an ass*!. We were cordial to each other at our 25th reunion and since then he's come back home to visit and we've had a great time talking and reminiscing.

So I guess for me it's more like I don't care WHO you are, if you were mean to me in HS I'm gonna let you know. And for the record - I was the cheerleading captain!

bevo said...

As my 25th high school reunion approaches, the lone classmate that I occasionally correspond with, asked if I was going to attend. Not a chance, I said.

I was on Facebook. When I got "friend" requests from college and high school classmates, I cancelled the account because I don't do reunions.

If I wanted to talk with you, then I would have kept in touch. Here's a hint: if you have not heard from me in a year, then chances are really good that I am not interested in hearing from you.

A few years ago, I was at a gym, waiting for my squash partner to arrive. It was early in the morning. I had not showered and was sitting in gym clothes.

A woman walked up to me and said my name. I looked at her and had no clue who she was.

I said yes. She introduced herself as a classmate from high school. It was 20 years ago! She can remember my name. I have no idea who she was.

Perhaps the years of smoking pot permanently damaged my brain. Perhaps the years of excessive drinking have dulled the senses. Had she said, "you were the second person I slept with," I would have believed it.

wv: diast - (colloq). A smaller dias. Use: He axed where the diast was.

benson said...

There's a song by Bowling for Soup: High School Never Ends. The lyrics just nail it.

gih said...

wow! if that girls or shall we say our ladies classmates look like that. 100% yes! ;-)

denparser said...

haha. u r funny dude!

Jonathan said...

My 25th reunion experience was verified by your post...suddenly there were any number of revelations of secret crushes and heretofore unknown alliances. Odd and weirdly satisfying...

Apropos of nothing in this post, here's an egg-headed Friday question I've been meaning to ask:

In the wake of the WGA strike and it’s concern over digital distribution, I got to thinking about the changing structure of the television industry – particularly the role of new and emerging distribution platforms – in shaping your approach to writing and producing. Some scholars have argued that at least since the mid-80s, and increasing with the emergence of the internet as an entertainment force, an “industrial-aesthetic logic” that considers television programming as “cross-platform, audio visual commodities” first and foremost has come to dominate the media industries in general. Whether this is entirely accurate or not, I’m wondering to what degree do changes in the structure and function of the industry shape your approach to the stories you want to tell and the style in which you tell them. Does the “fragmenting” of the audience and the resultant increase in competition influence your approach to subject matter, story, and character? Does the seeming requirement for additional content available online influence to the way you develop characters and storylines? Are there now requirements to think beyond the story itself and into areas of possible ancillary markets (games, books, movies, etc)? Are any of these concerns different in kind or degree from earlier eras?

Told you it was egg-headed...

Chip said...

Better remembered than relived. Besides, with Facebook/Twitter/YouPorn every day is a reunion.

Tom Quigley said...

A couple of paragraphs from an essay I wrote regarding going to an open-air gathering that was part of my high school's 40-year reunion activites last summer, which pretty much sums up how the experience left me:

Checking my watch, I decide it’s time to head out myself; but before I do, I stop and look around to take in the scene for a few final moments. After all, I think, I may never see most of these people again. I see several groups of people congregating together here and there, and then suddenly, as if my sight had finally become accustomed to a dimly-lit room, I begin to realize that these groups are all made up of the same cliques and social circles that existed in high school. The same people, the same laughs, the same conversations as they had back then.

I strike out across the parking lot and over to the other building where my car is parked. I open the car door, get in and just sit there for a minute or two, trying to digest the last couple of hours. Is that a twinge of nostalgia I‘m feeling -- or relief? Were we all still the same? Were any of us changed or different in any way? Was anyone of us who or what we expected to be 40 years ago? Did we grow up, or did we never leave high school?

Brian Fies said...

I didn't go to any reunion after my fifth, figuring I was already keeping in touch with the people I wanted to. So I missed my 25th a few years ago, but the event planners made up a nice book of old and new photos (so much baldness!), and invited everyone to contribute notes, which I did.

One guy sent in a long manifesto detailing how horribly everyone had tortured him, and letting us know that if he'd had the imagination to think of Columbine first he'd have taken us all out. Bone chilling. Also tragic, nursing such anguish his entire adult life. I remembered the guy well, and actually thought I'd gone out of my way to be a friend to him. I like to imagine he'd have spared my life, which is a weird musing for a reunion to inspire. Also gives me less incentive to attend future ones.

Aaliyah said...

Ken,

I'm planning my 15th with a fellow classmate. I'm glad I came across this blog. Life in many respects is still a popularity contest depending on what circles you are in.

I used to say I'd never go, and now I'm planning it. Part of me does want to see the role reversals of my classmates. Something tells me I can get a great story out of it:)

Michael said...

I went to my 10-year reunion about 30 pounds lighter than I was in high school. A cheerleader, still pretty, came up to me, looked me up and down, and said, "Mike! I didn't recognize you! You look great!" I said, "Thanks. That tells me how I DID look!"

No, there's no rest of the story. The cheerleader was married. Oh, well.

Sandy Koufax said...

I still think the best thing you can do at your high school reunion is to tell everyone that you invented "post-its". Nothing will ever top that! Thank you Rommey and Michelle...

Jon88 said...

Good one, except for how it reminds me of what happened when I reunited with "the girl next door" at my last reunion. Started great, ended badly. And thank you for that "statue of limitations" typo. I'm going to have to find a use for that image.

Wallis Lane said...

Ken, my 30th is coming up, and like you I went to Taft. I'm skipping it. When you go to a school as big as Taft (about 900 in my graduating class) you realize that you don't even know or remember 4/5 of the names on the list. What's the point of spending a ridiculous amount of money for a rubber chicken dinner, when odds are you wouldn't have met any of those people before, and thus would have no changes or common experiences to remark upon.

I went to my 10th (when really, nobody had changed all that much or even settled into careers), and skipped the 20th, because by that time I was married, and I figured the only purpose for going was if you were single and looking to hook up, or very successful and looking to gloat.

Richard Y said...

Gosh...I feel rather old now as my 50th is this year. I went to my 10th and that was the last one.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I went to my wife's 35th. Didn't know anyone, spoke to very few people. I realized I would have done the same if it had been my own school. But the drinks were free so I had a fine time.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed my reunions. Everyone has grown up, and are mostly interesting people (it was an artsy creative high school).

Frankly, once you're old enough to have teenagers yourself, and know what immature beasts they can be, it's really hard to hold a grudge about what anybody else did back when you were 14.

And yes, I'm the former cheerleader who gained 30 pounds. I introduce myself as Schadenfreude. It gets a laugh and breaks the ice.

Anonymous said...

I went to my high school reunion. But I didn't tell anybody who I was.

Roger Owen Green said...

Hated my 10th reunion, ducked my 20th, but went to the 32nd(!), which was fine. No great stories, but I hung mostly with my elementary school friends and had a pretty good time.

Mike Barer said...

Been to three. 10th and 20th were good. 30th not as good.

jbryant said...

Wow, Anonymous, if you got a laugh at your reunion with "Schadenfreude," you did indeed go to an "artsy, creative high school." No offense to my former classmates, but with 2 or 3 exceptions that remark would result in blank stares (and possibly a punch in the mouth).

Geoduck said...

No one in my class can even be bothered to put a reunion together in the first place. Probably just as well.

A. Buck Short said...

I had absolutely no friggin' idea this site had this many high school graduates!

Holden Leaf said...

To me, the most stunning part of the one reunion I went to wasn't talking to high school "friends" but the ones from elementary school.

These are the only people who knew me as a six-ten year old from the pov of a six-ten year old.

In certain ways better than your parents or siblings, they can tell you what kind of a kid you were. If, that is, they remember you at all.