So shallow

Is there anything that brings out the shallow, the vain, and the insecurities like a high school reunion?

My graduating class committee seems to plan get-togethers not only at the decade, but at other points, too. I’ve missed a few because I already had other plans, but I do try to attend them when I can. I rarely – as in “never” – see anyone from my hometown, which sometimes makes it awkward because I can’t remember anybody anymore.

I was one of those kids who was just, you know, average. I wasn’t in any particular clique, nor did I tend to stay with any group for very long. I wasn’t in the cool clique, I didn’t sit with the dweebs, nor was I a stoner or a jock. I did float around a bit, though, and while I had some friends back then, once I went off to college, I just sort of stopped having any reason to stay in touch. Not because I had a bad time in school – I have very few bad memories of that time, and quite a few good ones – it’s just because I moved on to other things.

We had a small get-together over the Thanksgiving weekend at a place in the next town from where I live now; the small New England town in which we grew up still not having much in the way of gathering places that aren’t either converted bars, or extant barns. So I dragged Mrs. Edge, who is a surprisingly good sport about such things, and we made an evening of it.

This not being one of the “big” reunions, only about 80 people showed up, and many of them didn’t even bring a spouse. And I have to confess that the first thing that ran through my mind – in fact, the only thing that ran through my mind for the first hour – was seeing how well my classmates held up over the years, and how they compared to me.

Okay, there. I said it. I just wanted to gloat and feel superior to the jocks and cool kids who were always so full of themselves, and to the stuck-up girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day back in school.

Jeez Belize – what a shallow, conceited attitude. I should be well past that now, you know?

Of course, you have to understand that compared to the majority of my old classmates, I really did age rather well. Half the guys looked closer to 60, and not a few of them looked like they followed the teachings of that paragon of youth, Keith Richards. And I’m sure I don’t have to mention that I wore my new skinny pants (‘cos I’m down another size again – yay me!). Once satisfied, however, I sipped on a scotch and just chatted with my old buds.

And the women? A few of them still looked pretty good, actually, despite weight gain and wrinkles. I had a perverse pleasure in seeing that some of the girls from the cool clique who used to be particularly snobbish were more like lizards than cougars. Most of the women, though, were just older. I was pleased to see that Mrs. Edge – the same age – actually fared better.

She was amazed that so many people recognized me, even thought they hadn’t seen me in over 10 or 20 years. But we found a yearbook, and I showed her my graduation picture. I really haven’t changed that much; my hair is gray and shorter, but somehow the 25 more pounds I’m carrying since then aren’t showing up in my face and neck, which is what makes people look so much different when they’re older. And actually, I was embarrassed not to have recognized most of my old friends for precisely those reasons.

Overall, though, it was enjoyable, and I managed to get over my being full of myself and on the way home started feeling a bit embarrassed about my attitude earlier. Chatting with an old girlfriend, we were surprised at how many of our friends remained in town, or moved back to it in their 20s. No judgment implied – people should live where they are comfortable, after all. Hell, I’ve even thought that it might be good for my own daughter if we were to move out of the ‘burbs and back to the sticks. . . but then, she doesn’t have the same perspective on it that I do. And Mrs. Edge being a city girl, it would be too much like Northern Exposure or Green Acres for their tastes.

I promise that I’ll be much better for the next one. Really.

And of course, I’m glad that I went, because it also gave me some emotional preparation for the next big event: the family reunion at Christmas.

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in Aging, Appearance. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to So shallow

  1. Elizavetta says:

    You’re so vain. I bet you think this blog is about you. Clouds in my coffee… la-la-la…

    No seriously, congrats on the fruits of your recent gym-type labors and your subsequent ability to walk away from your high school reunion with a good feeling about yourself (I doubt many people can truly claim they’ve done the same). And best of luck with your family reunion [Elizavetta, thinking of reunionizing with her own family, gives a little shiver].

  2. Dave P says:

    I’ve only been to one, my 20th, and there was enough self-aggrandizement going down to last me a lifetime.

    The image that stuck: The most babelicious chick in the class of over 600 had obviously married well, meaning she had been on scholarship for the past 20 years…most of that time had apparently been spent on a beach somewhere, working on her tan. Tom, when you said, “lizard”, you said a mouthful. Wow. My boots didn’t look that leathery.

  3. Em says:

    Good for you!

  4. Patty says:

    I just went to my 10 year reunion last weekend. It was much less awkward than I was expecting. Even though very few of us have had children, I still looked just as good as the other women. And I was also amused at how stupid the “cool clique” looked after drinking themselves into a stupor.

  5. I hated every minute of high school and have avoided every one of the class reunions. The only way I’m ever going to one is surrounded by paid body guards. They will tell everyone who even tries to come to my table: “I’m sorry, he doesn’t want to talk to you. He specifically said you.”

  6. gillette says:

    You damn well everyone else there was checking each other out, too. I mean..hello…who the hell doesn’t check the others out?

    The good part, is YOU won!!! 😉

    ( I’ll embrace the evil grin for you even if you are uncomfortable doing it for your HOT self.)

  7. gillette says:

    You damn well everyone else there was checking each other out, too. I mean..hello…who the hell doesn’t check the others out?

    The good part is YOU won!!! 😉

    ( I’ll embrace the evil grin for you even if you are uncomfortable doing it for your HOT self.)

  8. havingmycake says:

    You’re right. It’s the extra pounds that so many people end up wearing on their neck and face that really make them age badly…

    *Goes back to redo all the special neck and chin exercises*

    Not vain…. just taking care of what you’ve been given 🙂

  9. Aarkey says:

    So NOW we know why you’ve been working out so hard! 😀

    I think you know that I had my first big reunion this summer, and frankly I was quite happy to be the least changed person out of the class – mostly for my behavior I suspect… well that and the fact that I still have all my hair 🙂

  10. Elle says:

    HAH but I’m sure almost everyone would feel the same, Tom. I missed my 10 year reunion, I live kinda far from my hometown and a trip there just for the event didn’t seem worth it. But you can bet I would have felt the same as you. Hey, imagine if they saw my blog, especially my HNTs? 😀

    Congrats on the new pants size.

  11. darklily says:

    Arrgh. My 20 year (high school) reunion is next year. I made it to my 10 year, and won the prize for most unusual occupation. I live about a 10 hour drive from that town. I can’t call it my hometown though (my Dad still lives there), as I was a military brat and it just happened to be the last place we were assigned.

    In a similar vein, there was a school event (for one of my kids) yesterday, and I couldn’t get over how old/tired most of the other moms looked. I thought it was just my perspective, but last night the DH brought it up from out of the blue. He’d been people watching while I was doing something and he said that there were two catagories: women who where a mess/ didn’t care how they looked, and women who looked like robots. The second catagory really had him weirded out. On one hand they where in good physical shape, but when he looked at their faces, there was always something odd about them. I hadn’t thought of it till now…maybe too much plastic surgery?

  12. Mistress160 says:

    I attended my 30 year reunion recently, and found this article, published shortly afterwards, really captured how I felt:

    GOING BACK TO GO FORWARD
    Ruth Ostrow

    “THE past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” – The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley

    I am standing in the past. My 30-year school reunion. Surrounded by faces so familiar and yet so foreign. I’ve come a long way to be here. I was in Malaysia on a work trip just 24 hours earlier and was going to stay on and relax. But on hearing of the reunion, I flew home. Miles aren’t the only distance travelled. It’s been an emotional journey as well.

    I avoided the 10-year and 20-year reunions. Buddhists believe we must live in the now. Not the future and certainly not the past. Always moving forward, it didn’t feel right for me to go back to a place I no longer belonged to. But as the years have gone by I’ve wondered about the parts of myself lost along the way: parts left behind; friendships that have died; dreams abandoned; people who I’ve loved and left. Why? Why is it that some friends don’t last the distance?

    The energy in the room is feisty. People all around me are drinking and laughing. Some look their age, some older, some younger. People are hugging and kissing as the memories flow. But every now and again someone stares around the room with confusion and shock. The mirror of mortality is unforgiving.

    Standing there in that room I have a realisation. Life is too small to fit in all our treasures. It’s an airline carrier with a baggage allowance of 23kg. At any given time, on any given journey, there is only so much we can carry forward; some cherished dream, this lover or that, won’t fit on the next leg of the trip. So precious things get left behind, just like shoes we can’t squash in no matter how many times we sit on the suitcase.

    For misdeeds or justifications that seem real enough at the time, we let go of people and experiences once loved to make room in our case for the next project, love affair, or friendship appropriate to the coming destination. Appropriate to the identity we are forming.

    And that’s why I’ve come all this way. To forgive myself for the things I couldn’t carry into my present. And more. To pay homage with true honouring to those people and the parts of myself now gone. To hold dear friends I spent formative years with and say: “I’m sorry we couldn’t take each other along, but you were meaningful to me.”

    I have gone back, so I can go forward, with peace.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24650453-31499,00.html

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