What's up with high school reunions?
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
This year my class had our 45th reunion. Every 5 years they roll around, and when it's time to go, I back out of it and promise myself that I will definitely make the next one! No ifs, ands, or buts about it--I'm going! Yeah, right.
What are reunions really about? Let's take away the easy answer: "I just can't wait to see everyone and find up what they've been up to in the last ____ years!"
Really? Or is it, I can't wait to see if the football stars are fat and bald, if the girl voted "Most Likely to Succeed" is, in fact, Somebody. Am I the only young looking person here? Where did all these OLD people come from? Ha--he's no BMOC now, is he!
I think I was cut to the quick at my first 10 year reunion. I saw a guy I knew fairly well in high school, and we visited a minute. Then he said, " You've gained some weight since high school, haven't you?" I hope my face didn't show how I felt inside. This stung for two reasons: One, my mother told me that nobody cares about what you look like--they just want to get together, and two, I had just lost about 35 lbs., and I only weighed 134 when this guy told me I looked like I'd gained weight!!!! I couldn't believe it. Well, he's passed away now, so I shouldn't hold a grudge.
The high school reunion is undergoing some changes these days. First of all, Facebook gives us the opportunity to see pictures of our classmates and visit with them online any time we want. My picture is me as a witch on Halloween, but it's the best one I have. It's about three years old now, but I'm not updating it until I get back down to that size! Some of my friends even put pictures of their dogs and grandkids for their profile pics. I did that with my student ID in high school. I put a picture of my Bedlington Terrier with his tongue hanging out over my picture. I used it to get into a ballgame, and the principal told me it was a good picture of me. Everyone's a comedian.
You'd think reunions would be held in the town or city where you graduated, but that's changing too. Now they have "destination" reunions somewhere that has lots of things to do, great places to stay, and lots of sightseeing. I'm from Odessa, Texas, and believe me, you don't go there for the scenery or the great hotels. The oilfield is booming out there, and you're lucky if you can rent a hall at the local bar-b-que joint for the reunion. The hotels fill up quickly with the oilers coming in to work.
I think it's bizarre to travel for eight hours to see people, many of whom live just a few miles from me in the Dallas area. Who needs this? What will we talk about? Do we really care what they're up to now? How much alcohol do we have to consume to really talk over old times in high school? Is your old flame there? Does he look great or have the years taken a toll on him? How many classmates married each other? Oh, my..... I can't imagine.
So, my next one is a milestone: 50th Reunion of the Class of '65. Wow. I better get with it. I only have 4 and a half years to lose weight, get a face lift, and a tummy tuck. I have a better idea. Let's get together on Facebook and talk about what we'll do with our next 50 years, and pledge some bucks to donate to our high school in memory of those who are no longer with us. Let's post some fun memories of one another, tell your classmates something that you liked about them, and mend the fences that were broken 50 years ago. Pray for each other, or at the very least, wish each other well. Let's own the years that have gone by for us physically--the gray hair, the no hair, the wrinkles, the fat, the arthritis, the disabilities, and our forgetfulness. We've earned every bit of it!
An observation for those facing their 10 year reunion: they're all about showing up looking good, what college you went to, what you do for a living, and how well off you are. Don't drink too much and tell everyone about what all you did with whom in high school. Avoid confessing anything. Some things are better left unsaid. People are marrying later these days, so you may still be footloose and fancy free. Look happy about that, even if you haven't had a date in 5 years.
For those of us who are coming up on the 40th to 50th, it's not so much about what your career is--with any luck, you'll be retired. Who brags about graduating from Harvard at their 50th reunion? Who cares? Nobody. You don't have to prove anything to anyone. I've been surprised that many of my classmates are very committed to their religious faiths. Some of those are a real surprise, given the way they behaved in high school. Most are dedicated to their families--especially their grandchildren. Most had kids that have made nice lives for themselves, and that's all good. Many have been divorced or widowed, and some have had hardships and losses that nearly brought them down, but they are glad to be with old friends. There's something that unites people who lived through the same times together.
It turns out that I really like the people we've become. Here's to the class of '65!