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?