The other day I received a letter that gave me pause. An invitation to my high school class reunion.”
“A party where you hang out with all the people you went to high school with.”
My daughter got excited. Parties still meant ice cream and pizza to her.
“Are you going?!”
“Good lord, no.”
“Well, baby, I can think of at least some reasons off the top of my head. Do I have to pay you to tell you the story ?”
“Hmm. Well, I know someone who wont.”
My daughter then went off to play with some toys. Or cry. I’m not sure.
Now in truth, there are plenty of people I went to old high school with that I have nothing against or want to see. There was even a bunch I liked. If I were to meet them in an elevator or at a business meeting or hanging out on a park bench, I’d be perfectly happy to catch up. But that’s just not incentive enough. Especially since one of those people could send me a message saying, “Hey, let’s grab a beer and catch up,” and then I could totally go do that without seeing douche bags like Christopher Vitagliano at the same time. How am I gonna hear about my old friend’s home heating business or precocious triplets when Vitagliano, who’s probably still spiking what’s left of his hair, is like two seats over making the waitress incredibly uncomfortable.
The problem in HS was that I was more like this in High School than anything else
High School Girlfriend ? Well, actually, part of me really does want to see you again. Y’know, just to assure you that I totally know what I’m doing sexually these days. Like when I have sex now, orgasms are actually involved. But I think it would be more awkward than cathartic. Pretty soon, old resentments would arise, and I’d have to confess that I actually faked my orgasms. (Guys can do that with condoms, unless, I guess, there’s a vigilant post-coital prophylactic inspection.) And then you’ll feel bad even though you shouldn’t because seriously what guy can finish over the sounds of “Ow, stop. No. Are you doing that right?” I keep seeing this image in my head too
So yeah, best not to see you.
High School English Teacher: Sure it was hot having pretend sex with you, when I was 17 and you were a MILFy 38 — but it was all in my mind. Seeing you now would just be unseemly. Would you ask me to escort you to the annex for old time’s sake? Will you be wearing some sort of body stocking and seek assistance from Industrial Light and Magic to reclaim your former glory? Or will you diss me completely to pursue the teenage son of some former student who brought his kids when the sitter got sick at the last minute? It’s hard to say, but I don’t want to be around for any of it.
I went to school during the height of disco/funk and as such, I was very fortunate to be a young, long-haired man during rock’s last great death rattle. But my teen years were filled with some of the worst music of any generation. To ease the pain, I disappeared into the 50’s and 60’s: Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Jethro Tull, and Elvis Costello — painfully aware that now it was great. My classmates occasionally enjoyed the old stuff too, provided it was Billy Joel or Billy Joel. It was Long Island. Liking Billy Joel was the law. And while I’m sure Joel’s “I’Love you just the way your are ” will be heard at the reunion I’m guessing the music committee will also be filling the dance list with the likes of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and Roxette’s “The Look.” I’m not dancing to that. I’m not listening to that. I might bust a move to Frank Sinatra, Sammy or Donna Summer but that’s it.
There’s was only one thing that could get me to go to my high school reunion, and it’s an ideal that can never be achieved. My initial thoughts were that before I could go, I would need to reach a level of success that would be absolutely devastating to everyone there I hated. But what would that be? Money? A trophy wife? Fame? It would have to be something objectively awesome. Like Bill Gates awesome. Brad Pitt showing up with Angelina after having just won an Oscar awesome.
But the more I thought about it, I realized that short of being named the All-Powerful Master of Space and Time there was no level of accomplishment that would be enough because the measure of success is a personal one. Everyone wants different things from life. A house, kids, a nice car, a private business, extreme wealth, creativity, peace and quiet, fulfilling charitable acts, hot deviant sex, lots of friends, calm seclusion, deep roots, constant travel.
I suppose someone who deems their own life a failure would not be likely to display it for their enemies, but that does not sum up the existence of those avoiding their reunions. There are content people with no desire to be judged by someone else’s standards. People who don’t want to explain to the Christopher Vitaglianos that they shouldn’t have to explain why they don’t have kids or why they have so many. Who don’t trust the Vitaglianos’ determination of what the right number of kids is. Or the right kind of car to drive. And if you already found yourself one step out of sync with your peers’ values and aspirations as a teenager, how much greater will the ensuing years of obligations and taxes deepen that divide?
To put it in my terms: Life for me has been a journey to a place where the people get my jokes and make me laugh. Each year, I keep getting closer. Going to a reunion wouldn’t necessarily take me in the opposite direction, but it’s a detour I don’t need. I’m trying to make some time here but I guess I will go JUST SO I CAN HEAR Carolyn Collins say “Hey Big Head” You THINK I am joking ?. Here is what I looked like in HS
Seriously, screw that guy.
-Author’s note. Occasionally, writers do a thing where they write something that is not true. To that end, please be advised that Christopher Vitagliano is not a real person or based on any one person. I also didn’t refuse to talk to my daughter and make her cry.
My HS reunion is this year and I thought I write myself a letter.
Dear Mouthy HS Facebook friends ” I Didn’t Like These People in High School So Why Should I Hang Out With Them Years Later?
My high school reunion is this summer. I’m not entirely sure how this happened because I swear I’m no older than 32, at least according to Oil of Olay’s promise to remove years from my face. I always assumed I’d go to my reunion, but the more I follow the dedicated reunion Facebook page the less I want to go. It’s the same popular “in” crowd chatting with each other (eye roll). Do people regret not attending their high school reunions? And why hasn’t Facebook made these damn things obsolete already?
Dear I Didn’t Like These People in High School,
In order to attend a reunion, you must be in a relatively positive place. You should feel pretty good about the way you look and the direction of your life.
For example, if you still living at home, sleeping in your old bunk bed with The Incredible Hulk sheets, you might consider not going. Or if the only person you communicate with regularly is your parole officer, ditto. Or if you went way overboard on the Botox and now look like a disturbing wax version of yourself (think Sandra Bullock at the Oscars), this might not be the time to step out into the reunion spotlight.
But if you are in a good groove, why not go? Forget about the “in” crowd. Do you have a group of friends from high school that you like or liked? Reconnect with them and you can all hang out together. It can be a lot of fun to see old pals and remember just how devastated you all were to find out Milli Vanilli was a fraud. (I still mourn the loss of that band.)
And at some point during the reunion, I absolutely promise that you are going to run into some pudgy guy who is sporting a shiny bald head and an orange glow from too much self tanner and you’re going to suddenly realize, “Holy crap. That’s Billie Thaler. The god damn captain of the football team and hottest guy at school who was worshiped for FOUR long years by all the girls and the only thing he ever said to me was, ‘A tampon just fell out of your purse.’ Wow, he looks awful.”
The joy of his fall from grace will certainly be reason enough to go. Doesn’t that sound more satisfying than just looking up old classmates on Facebook?
My final advice is to have a few cocktails. Reunions are not for the sober. Unless not drinking is a requirement for your parole and then see earlier advice about maybe sitting this reunion out.
See you at the SHOW