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.