Sunday, January 26, 2014

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?

39 comments:

LouOCNY said...

Nice to know even pros sometimes find the right line late!

I have no need to get all dressed up for the big formal reunion - and I was always a plugger in school, anyways. BUT - did go to an informal get together the friday before the big bash at a local bar. THAT was fun - especially since everybody recognized me, thought I looked better than in school, and especially since I was one of the few who still had all of his hair! (early 50's here)

And when you DID think up that line, its a classic and seems like it should used in a show sometime!

Anonymous said...

High school reunions, at least the 10-year and 20-year ones, are for two types of people: 1) those who were total geeks/nerds at high school and have since become "cool" and/or successful and want to demonstrate that to the people who used to make fun of them, and 2) those who were "cool" in high school and have since gone WAY downhill and want a night to relive what they used to have.

Mike said...

I never miss a reunion with my erstwhile friends. I find that personal moment of their recognition & embarrassment is a real deal clincher when I'm begging in the street outside.

Question Mark said...

At least your generation still has reunions. I graduated from high school 15 years ago and we've had one since, thanks to Facebook and other social media, we already know what everyone else is up to (or, perhaps more importantly, what everyone looks like nowadays).

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I have only been to one high school reunion, my 40th. Where I learned something interesting: the memories of your childhood/teen years are crowdsourced. It's very interesting to retrieve the ones you've forgotten from external storage in other people's memories.

wg

Jeffrey Mark said...

My 40th is coming up this year.The simple fact is: I don't know anyone. 40 years is a very long time. It will just be a room full of strangers, basically. I only have so much to say to anyone when you get right down to it. I think I'll sit this one out once again. I missed my 30th and 25th. Went to my 20th and halfway through the night I had had enough and left early. And the dj they hired sucked as I recall.

K Penche said...

"I'm going to get back my Most Improved Odor award!"

Anonymous said...

Those who relive their past are doomed to never forget it.

Hamid said...

I'm laid up with flu, so reading this gave me a good chuckle. And it's inspired a Friday question:

When you made it as a successful writer and your name was on TV, did lots of people you hadn't seen or heard from in years, including any who gave you a hard time at school, start coming out of the woodwork wanting to hang out with you? It's what I've read happens to almost every person who makes it in entertainment or wins the lottery, though I think anyone who chooses to go public with the fact that they've won the lottery is a moron.

Mike Barer said...

I don't always buy the line that if you wanted to talk to so and so, you'd call them. reunions are about commenoration and you grow with these people you leave these people and it's good to have a chancce to gauge what you have done vs what they are up to. I think the advent of give it a different dynamic for sure.

Dan Ball said...

I'm barely after my 10th high school reunion and I already feel like I'd want to go back just because I missed the opportunities to get to know the people around me all those years. Once I got to college, I came out of my shell and was more sociable. Whenever I'd see people from high school, I'd be really excited to see them, but remembered that we didn't know each other THAT well. So I'd just put whatever energy wasn't expended in those conversations back into my college friendships, which are still going full-steam even after we all moved away.

But yeah, it'll be fun to go back and see how the tides have turned in a lot of cases. I might hold off until I have more IMDb credits to my name and my name is uttered in more households. ;)

D. McEwan said...

I emceed my ten-year high school reunion. Used the personal information they'd put on their forms to write a comedy monologue that lampooned them left and right. (Taken by all in good fun. These were, after all, folks who knew me and my humor.) I gave out awards: the one for "Most Marriages" went to a guy who'd been cute in high school but had lost his looks (and his hair) in just ten years, really busy ten years, since he had 5 divorces under his belt at 23. Called for a show of hands for college graduates. About one-fourth of them. Warned all who had become cops. "Don't offer a joint to Mike Griffiths; he's a cop." Mike squawked, but I just added, "Ignore his squawkng; he's a cop." What was good was seeing how many of the guys I'd had crushes on had lost their looks already (And that one guy who had been OK in School but who had blossomed into a BEAUTY, though, unfortunately, also into a Republican). What was depressing was seeing how very, very many of my class had become ministers and priests, including two of the guys I had respected most back in school. Bye-bye respect. Someone had been hitting them with the Religion Stick in college, the age you should be outgrowing religion. Worse, a clump of once-close friends had become Mormon Republicans.

I was unable to attend my 40th, but a friend who did attend sent me a bunch of photos of it and a full report. I was glad I skipped it. About 40 people (Out of a class of 550), of whom, there were at most 3 I would ever want to see or chat with. One of the creepiest (Both in high school and 40 years on) kept trying to get the girls, by which I mean 58 year old women, to go nude hot-tubbing with him on the roof. The general reaction to that one was "Ew!" (He had amassed an impressive number of divorces also.)

I'm happy with reconnecting privately with the folks from my past I like, but I've no need to go look old around 35 people I didn't hang with even when young. And finding my high school best friend was now a loonytoons Libertarian was absolutely the last straw for me for formal reunions.

But only last month I had a private reunion party, only 7 invitees, in my home, potluck dinner, for a group of former classsmates that was just utterly delightful and a good time was had by the carefully-selected all. It was such a success that I'm arranging a second with a slightly larger list of invitees for the spring.

Charles said...

I went to the first four reunions, but I no longer attend them.

I'm single and middle-aged, and I found that the others attending had been both married and parents for enough years that we really didn't quite know how to talk with each other anymore --- not without frequent awkward moments, anyway.

Cap'n Bob said...

No interest whatsoever in seeing most of them again. I went to my wife's 35th some years ago and the best part was the free drinks--and I don't usually drink.

Trey said...

Seems like so many of the folks I went to high school with stay in touch via social media that an actual reunion would seem a little anticlimactic.

kenju said...

Luckily, I had no moments like that at my reunions. The last one was #55 (yes, I am ancient) and we all really enjoyed it. The problems and insecurities we had in high school just drift away and we are all friends now. I am so glad I have been to most of my reunions.

Dan Ball said...

FRIDAY QUESTION:

Question Premise: When I've tried writing comedies before or writing even outlines that were like the CHEERS outline you posted, I'm always stymied by joke-writing. I guess I've been taught to keep the dialogue lean, keep it simple, and cut to the chase. Jokes seem to work against those ideas, since you basically pause the plot to make time for a joke.

Actual question(s): How do you balance that out or how do you write jokes that move the plot along? What are the guidelines for that?

Thanks, Ken!

MikeBo said...

The first high school reunion I actually went to was the 45th. I'd only been back to my hometown just once in 45 years. When I finally made the effort, I took my son and my fiancée with me. We all had a blast. My son has my first name and he if heard it once, he heard it a dozen times, "Mike, you haven't changed a BIT in 45 years." Of course not, he's much younger than his dad. But the friendship connections frequently went back to when we were in first grade together. When you grow up with people, there are bonds that never go away. I've been back for my 50th and 55th and have #60 on my calendar.

Storm said...

D. McEwan said: "...Warned all who had become cops. 'Don't offer a joint to Mike Griffiths; he's a cop.' Mike squawked, but I just added, 'Ignore his squawkng; he's a cop'..."

It's after 4AM, and I just laughed so hard, the Vulcan woke up to check on me. You slay me, darling, I swear.

Since I was home schooled for my last year of junior high and my first year of high school (because back then things like anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and all the bullying causing it had not been identified/addressed) until I was old enough to take the GED and start going to community college, I had no prom, no graduation, and now I have no reunions to deal with. HUZZAH, I SAY!

Next month will be the 30th anniversary of when I started "performing" at Rocky Horror, and I'm working on getting a bunch of us middle aged freaks back into make-up and fishnets in public for a night. Some of these bizarros have been like family to me since way back then, so it'll be a great time, at least for us; folks young enough to be our children are going to be confused by our awesomeness, and how much funnier our call-backs are. HA!

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Roger Owen Green said...

"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."

There's a word for that, actually - treppenwitz. The Germans have words for EVERYTHING.

Mark said...

D McEwan - I'm sure your former classmates aren't missing you. Every post that you make reveals how judgmental you are with your sweeping generalizations, hatefulness, and all-around bitterness.

Janet T said...

skipped the 10th, went to the 20th- it wasn't very interesting- for a class of 52 how could it be that I didn't know so many of the people that were there? We didn't have a 30th- but about 10 of us are getting together for breakfast in a few weeks- and they are the people I actually knew in high school, several since grade school. So that will be fun and casual, and then I'm off the hook for another 30 years right?

RCP said...

I couldn't wait to escape high school; in fact, I was so miserable that it was arranged for me to complete senior year by taking the two remaining required course credits with night classes at another high school. I "graduated" in November, a full six months before my class. With maturity, I realize that I caused much of my own unhappiness, but at the time it was an ordeal. By contrast, I loved college.

Douglas McEwan said...

"Mark said...
D McEwan - I'm sure your former classmates aren't missing you. Every post that you make reveals how judgmental you are with your sweeping generalizations, hatefulness, and all-around bitterness."


As opposed to your sweetness and joyful cheer-spreading? Sorry to shock you, but I was actually highly popular in high school, and college as well. I retain friends from both eras and from even earlier. And every time there is a reunion, I get personal requests from a number of people to "Please, please attend. We need your humor."

But nice of you to speak for a group of people you don't know but I do. Do you do a lot of psychic readings, pulling strangers' opinions out of your ass?

(Methinks I smell a Republican, as being politcally offended is the only reason in that post I can think of for your unprovoked, malicious attack, or else a Mormon. Or did I beat you out for a spot in Choraleers back in 1966, and you're just too cowardly to include your last name even half a century later?)

Tallulah Morehead said...

"Mark said...
D McEwan - I'm sure your former classmates aren't missing you. Every post that you make reveals how judgmental you are with your sweeping generalizations, hatefulness, and all-around bitterness."


You left out jealousy, horniness, and his inexplicably being a non-drinker.

Jesse said...

@douglas McEwan
Wow losing respect for a person just because they are in the opposite political spectrum. You may be a tad bit older than me but you surely have some growing up to do. And yes I am a Republican Catholic but before you dismiss me as being "stupid" and "full of sh*t", I hope that you refrain from being ignorant. This is not an attack against you. I just hope that you get out of the "I hate Republican" mindset and open your mind a little more:)

D. McEwan said...

When (as if) the Republicans stop raping our environment, bankrupting our economy, shutting down the government in a snit, feeding the poor to the rich, playing endless obstructionism, trampling on the poor, waging war on women's and gay rights, and generally being the most-evil, selfish, greedy, ignorant and stupid sons-of-bitches on earth, I'll stop being disgusted when someone I used to like joins the enemy and becomes one of them. Not even my own Reagan-Republican sister escaped the downgrade in respect that those joining the enemy receive from me.

Until then, I am at war with the GOP (Grotesque Old Pigs). However, I fear that day the Republicans actually do something to help the other 99% of America instead of the 1%, our 21st Century French Aristocrats, will never occur. Fortunately, they are busy putting themselves out of business.

Freinds don't let friends vote Republican. The only good Republican is an ex-Republican.

(And you really don't want to get me started on the Catholic church. There's 1500 years of Crimes Against Humanity there to dig into. Though, if it's any consolation, I hate ALL religion. But a handful of churches are at the top of my Vile List, Christian Scientists, Mormons, Catholics, Southern Baptists., etc.)

Anonymous said...

I would love to attend my 40th Class reunion........unfortunately I have no interest in seeing my exwife who will also be attending so I will pass.

Anonymous said...

I have my 30th this Friday and never actually got a formal invite. I heard about it via FB and my hubby wants me to go but really I barely have time for my friends in my life. Why would I want to spend an evening and $ to try to get to know people that can't be bothered to email/phone/FB me now. And who clearly can invite everyone but chooses not too. Apparently things have remained the same even 30 years later. I have no desire to spend an evening remember times that are long gone. I am always looking forward never back.

RE: losing respect. I think people have lost what that means: Admiration inspired by abilities/achievements etc. Doesn't mean you hate them but one can certainly NOT respect someone who goes against everything you personally stand for. I have a close friend I love dearly but they have the 3 R's (redneck, republican & (less now) racist. They were raised a certain way and are evolving but ever so slowly. Funny how their life has presented them with the very thing they hate (daughter married a man of a different race). Laura W.

Jason said...

My 20th is in 2016. The past twenty years have been rough: illness/four corrective surgeries, being flat broke, bum roommates, etc. After losing everything in apartment building fire when I lived in CA, I moved to SD to make a new life via train/bus. I did a lot of thinking during my travel time. Now I work two jobs, workout/bike 5x a wk and write music in between. Despite all I've been through, I managed to self-published a novel and a volume of poems. I even have a play in the Library of Congress. While the people I went to school w/ are married or have their own business or became models I'm still gay and single. But far better to walk into my reunion knowing I'm still alive and kicking. My life is like a Bruckner symphony, it's still a work in progress.

john victor said...

Typical elitists I never went to college and you don't need a college ed to became a law enforcement officer Kee it up with the private invites it's what keeps me up at night and day

Gearmoe said...

High School reunions are for the clicks, you know, the popular. You'll be judged and evaluated, it is not pretty, and you'll not likely walk away with a warm fuzzy feeling. If you were a star then you'll be a star now. If you were ignored as a nobody, this is all you will be today. On occasion there are exceptions but generally speaking this is what to expect. Reality; You don't know these people. In my case I clearly do remember and this is exactly why I will never attend a reunion.

hormonehell said...

Saw these posts as I am about to leave for one of these reunions after 40 years. Apprehensive and of course my husband thinks I am crazy, as he is hoping to get out of going. What do you say to people you don't even know after 40 years?
High School was such a small blip on the radar! We don't know one another and were too young to really try to know one another. It feels odd. Kids are superficial we are actually real people now. Maybe that will make the difference or not! I'm off!

Kirky Kirkland said...

Wow I went to my 30 year last night and hungover asked google why did I go which led me here. Gearmoe is spot on. I enjoyed speaking to just a few people from grade school days and otherwise felt like I was crashing a party. No warm fuzzies.

C Taggart said...

Those kids didn't want to know me then, so why do they need to know me now?

Anonymous said...

My 20 year is this weekend. I was going to attend until I learned that the venue that was rented was very expensive and a $40.00 admission is being charged to offset the cost. I'll pass.

Janna Walters said...

I'm due for my 40th. Not going. High school was hard because I was just a MISFIT. Too hard to go.

JOHN B said...

If your family lived in the same area for the first 18 years of your life, many of your high school friends you have known since kindergarten. There is nothing better than seeing life long friends in person. It is also a good place to talk to people you were not friends with in high school. You may just find out how nice these people really are. Don't sit at a table all night long. If you sit down all night you will never want to come back. Walk around and say hello to people. Go to your reunion!

sum527 said...

I was bitter with my classmates and I cursed em out on Facebook, so I didn't go to my Class 2000 reunion year 2007. Luckily they refriended me on Facebook. I attended my Annual High School picnic this year. I'm glad I went. I was the liked but could never "hang" with anybody. I always was the and still left alone :(. Never had any close friends. I was still walking home alone yet again.
I am from a black urban school. My peers/classmates have different interests lifestyles and I am intellectual which is considered the new "slow"so I couldn't really fit in. But it was pleasant and one of my female classmates kissed me on the cheek. I got a lot of hugs and high fives. I'm gay also and they are not really judgemental towards me. LESS THAN THE ADMINISTRATORS!
My advice just go! Even just once or to a high school get together/event.It's not going to be the end of the world. It's not like you're chained and bound to be with those people like in school. Old grudges and memories may haunt but new ones are just as abundant. Don't let not being asked to the prom or an embarassing or depressing pasts become excuses.