Monday, June 01, 2009

Not insecure enough? May I recommend a high school reunion?

Here's a question for the ages: who gets more stage fright before a high school reunion, those who were the geeks or those who were the popular kids? I'm facing a milestone reunion this coming weekend and have been training for the damn thing like a marathoner. I've attempted to lose weight and am eight pounds lighter as a result. I also attempted to write a novel and complete it in time for this reunion, just so I could say I wrote a book. I finished the first draft, at least, but so far, no million dollar contract to wave in front of former classmates. Basically, ever since I realized this reunion was on the horizon, I've tried to do all the things I thought I should have done since I last saw these people, all because I felt like a loser in high school and that somehow checking a bunch of things off my lifetime to-do list would earn me a trip in the way-back machine to change that.

Actually, let me clarify a bit more: I've felt like a loser since high school too. I went to a prep school that coughs out successful actors, politicians, businessmen and authors the way my cat coughs up bifurcated mice -- which is to say, frequently and with enthusiasm. When I jokingly turn to former fellow graduates and ask them, "What are you, a rocket scientist?" they will, nine times out of ten, pull out their NASA credentials and nod. For those of us who ended up just average or less than average, it can be a little bit disheartening to face the superstars, especially when you spent every day of high school being shy, pale and a little bit weird. (True story: someone once signed my yearbook with the words, "Have a great summer doing whatever it is people like you do." Like spending the summer writing fan letters to Menudo is weird. Whatever.)

Lately, though, after realizing I'd become a crazy person over this, I began to wonder if it was just the socially-shunned former geeks who get this queasy over seeing old and now successful faces or are the formerly popular folks who maybe didn't score that big corporate gig getting those butterflies too? Because, really, if I can avoid getting shoved in a locker by another girl and remember not to peg the legs of my jeans at this thing, I'm kinda coming out a winner. But if a former prom queen comes to a reunion having gained 70 pounds and a husband with a gambling problem, then that could feel like a pretty steep plummet down the social ladder.

The thing is, though, it's only a win or lose in the minds of the former social outcast or prom queen because honestly, every one else is just worried about themselves. I mean, even Bill Gates has to feel like a loser when he's sitting next to Warren Buffet, right? After a decade or two apart, all of the old high school animosities and grudges should be long-distant memories -- contrary to what "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" would have us believe. I'm sure we'll all just be happy to see one other again after all these years and it will be an evening free from judgment and pettiness. Okay, that's not entirely true. Because I know me and I know that in a small corner of my brain, I will always -- always -- be glad to see guys who wouldn't date me in high school now be bald as hairless cats, hauling around muffin tops that could kill an Oompa Loompa. That's just the way I roll.

So I've decided to just stop worrying and learn to love my high school reunion. I'm prepared to lie when necessary -- "Yes, I make a million dollars a year but then I give it all away to puma shelters" or "Can you believe not a gray hair on my head? Scientists pay to study my follicles!" -- and drink to excess and just be glad to share an evening with people who have all been on the same journey as I have.

Tell me, what have your high school reunions been like? Should I bring a flask or will the open bar be enough?

12 comments:

Lisa said...

I went to mine last year, and found it was just like...high school. The cool people sat together, the losers sat together, and there was little mingling between the two. And of course it ended with many 'let's meet for coffee soon and catch up' promises, none of which have been carried out. I'm glad I went though, even if it was a little weird and awkward.

I don't think high school reunions are like they used to be, and we've got facebook to thank for that.

Go, but keep in mind you are awesome, and better than them all anyways!

Mickie Poe said...

I experienced the phenomenon where everyone had super great and productive lives while I slung books in a retail store. But by the end of the night, as the former cool dude sat literally crying in his drink while the former cool chick rubbed his back, I walked out of there satisfied with myself and where I was.

Take heart, I just know you'll find out you were the mean girl and Alec Baldwin will take you out of there in a jet.

LaurieM said...

Actually, the ones I've been to have been pretty fun, mostly because after so many years, people have had to earn successful, happy lives and aren't hot stuff just cause they were cute in 6th grade or daddy had money and a pool... to paraphrase Dr. Phil, that bitch don't hunt after 20 years... and truth be told, after more than a few drinks, I'm always amazed at the cute guys who paid me no attention way back when who end the night claiming they "always" liked me, and I'm just "so cool" - yah, right. Oh, and I highly recommend, if you have to fill out a survey/form listing stuff about yourself, don't just lie, lie big! One of my favorite moments was having a classmate sincerely ask me about having published a bunch of cute little kids books under the pen name J.K. Rowling...

onepinkshoe said...

Like Lisa said, it was as if HS never ended. Everyone just stayed in their little clique.

If things go badly you can always get up on stage and tell them all to suck it!

Anonymous said...

Are you even sure you want to go? There's no law that says you have to. I talk to exactly one person (out of my class of 500) that I went to high school with. I wouldn't spit on the other 499 people if they were on fire. That's how hard high school was for me. Our 15th is this year and I'd never go in a million years, even though my life is awesome now. I don't need their approval and I don't need to compare my lives to theirs. They didn't care about me 15 years ago, so why should I care what they're doing now?

Liz said...

Anonymous, truth be told, despite all my hesitations and insanity, I'm actually looking forward to seeing my former classmates. I have kept in touch with a lot of people and I'm sure this will be a lot of fun. My issues of self-worth are pretty much self-inflicted at this point in time. :)

LaurieM, that's hilarious about the J.K. Rowling stunt. I love that. I might have to try it myself!

Mickie and Onepinkshoe, my 30 Rock fantasies are flying high right now. I think it would be hilarious to find out I was the mean girl. I once did punch a girl in the face, so it could happen!

Lisa, thanks for the vote of confidence!

Nightfall said...

At my ten year I was struck by the fact that all the popular chicks were very pregnant. Not sure why this was. Perhaps they felt they couldn't lose enough weight to look like they did in high school, so they got knocked up to cover for it. Or conversely, they were so hot the guys just couldn't help but fill them up with babies. I dunno.

It was okay, saw a couple people I hadn't seen in a while, exchanged a few email addresses and that was it.

Jen said...

My 20 is coming up in November...I'm planning on going, however, I have a feeling that it's going to be just like the dinner I had with 3 friends from HS last month.

I sat there and wondered what the hell they stayed in that same small town for (everyone's yearbook quote was "to move the hell out")and, can we change the subject from your kids to something topical!?!?!

techtigger said...

My 10 year reunion was an odd one - I was told that everyone arrived with shiney-new spouses at the 5 year. By the 10 year, everyone was divorced and cruising amongst single former classmates for dates. (I avoided that bunch like the plague...)

I skipped the 15, and am dreading what weirdness will arrive at the 20. I think morbid curiosity will drag me there every decade anyway, but I have grown so much, that they seem like flies in amber to me. Kind of feel like a hobbit coming home to the shire, and finding it's all suddenly too small and quiet. Within a day or two, I want to see mountains, and elves and dragons again...

Marsha said...

Did you hear about the woman who hired a stripper to impersonate her at her ten-year reunion? (http://www.boingboing.net/2009/04/23/woman-sends-stripper.html)

crone51 said...

The one that is coming up for me is too frightening to mention- just in the number of years passed kinda way. There is the numeral four involved. You don't want to know. Anyhow, I ended up going to two high schools, having walked out of the one with the frightening upcoming reunion in a huff. My second one advertised itself as being for "gifted under achievers". I went to one of those reunions- I looked like quite the success compared to some of those kids. Egads. However, I recommend avoiding these events as a general practice.

word verification "rhonampu" - this may be my favorite.

The Modern Gal said...

Eek. Mine is coming next year. I'd planned on having a book published by then too, but I'm guessing I'm already out of time on that one. Still, judging by the Facebook pages of most of my former classmates, I will finally be among the cool ones.