This coming weekend, I am attending my high school reunion. Want to guess which year I graduated?
Thank you for all picking D, as I’m sure you did! However, B is the correct answer. Yep, it’s been 25 years since I donned a scratchy graduation gown and a cardboard cap and flung tassels from one side to the other.
There were 213 students in my graduating class at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. What do I remember about high school? I participated in choir and was named Best Female Singer at my senior prom. (Any rock group need a lead?) I was drum major of our marching band, which went to state competition three of my four high school years. I didn’t date a whole lot. I wasn’t in the popular crowd. I was into English and history even back then. And our high school got out for three full days during the Nueces County Livestock Show because too many students were involved to hold classes; plus many of us went to the livestock show, even if we hadn’t raised a pig or a sheep, baked an apple pie, painted a picture, crocheted something, or roped calves.
But enough about my past, here is what I wonder now: What do people hope to convey about themselves when attending a high school reunion? Of course, you assume that others want to know what you managed to do in those years since you swore you’d be BFFs 4-ever and everyone was 2 Nice 2 B 4-gotten! But what else do we think about?
I theorize that most people headed to a high school reunion want to convey one or more of the following messages:
I’ve done something worthwhile since graduation. Whether it’s the five children you spawned, the company you started, fabulous vacations you’ve taken, or volunteer work that contributes to the good of humanity, you want to say that you accomplished something. If you were voted Most Likely to Succeed, the pressure might be high to deliver on achievements. But even the stoner who barely eked out a diploma with more knowledge of Nirvana lyrics than the American Revolution may want others to know he straightened out and did something useful with his life.
I’m older and wiser. Young and stupid – it’s almost redundant. Every youth does something unbelievably foolish that you would never do again or, God forbid, let your children do. And your high school friends were eyewitnesses! They can testify to your idiocy. Hopefully, we don’t freeze each other in time and expect that we are as stupid today as we were then. We want to come across as having learned a few things in life and being at least a smidgeon smarter than we were when we called that guy twenty-five times one night to breathe heavily into the phone or mooned a car of middle-aged businessmen from the band bus.
I’m sorry. You hurt somebody’s feelings in high school. Intentionally or accidentally, you did it. Looking back, you may be embarrassed at the ugly names you called someone, the way you excluded a person from your clique, or the theft of someone else’s boyfriend (even if he was incredibly hot!). Now that the years have passed and you are wiser, it would be nice to issue a blanket apology: “To anyone I injured emotionally, I am sorry that I was selfish and made you cry every night; plot revenge against the world; or become a writer to work through your feelings in a socially acceptable way.”
You should have asked me out when you had the chance. Whatever your appeal is today – looks, money, fame, charm, whatever – you hope that one of those people who rebuffed you in high school is thinking, “I should have asked him/her out!” Yep, you should have! Even if you are happily married to the love of your life, there is likely someone from high school that you had a crush on who didn’t give you the time of day or fed you the “I think of you as a friend” line. And you want that person to wish they had it to do over again, so they could grovel at your feet and declare you to be the god/goddess they had been looking for – at which point, you would smirk and say, “No, thanks.” Okay, we aren’t that cruel, but we might want that guy or gal to notice us and at least think, Hmmm.
I liked you back then. Just as common as the crush and rebuff scenario is the I-never-told-you-how-I-felt situation. In fact, I know a couple of friends who got in touch with old high school chums on Facebook and eventually one said, “I had a crush on you,” to which the other said, “Why didn’t you tell me? I totally would have gone out with you!” Maybe there is some of that at high school reunions too – a realization that if we’d had more gumption back then, we might have dated someone that we never knew liked us.
I’m still fun. Ultimately, you go to a high school reunion to have fun once again with people you enjoyed before. Even with a serious job, home ownership, and knee-biters getting in the way of your current social life, and the fact that you no longer “cruise the main drag” looking for a good time (at least I hope you don’t), you are forever that fun guy/ girl who did crazy things, made others laugh, and danced the night away. You know have to have a good time! Whatever your brand of “good time” (drinks and karaoke, bustin’ moves on the dance floor, telling jokes, etc.), let loose again! Create some new memories!
I do not plead guilty to all of the above, only some. And I SWEAR I have never mooned anyone; if you had known me in high school, you would know how completely incapable of that I am! But I am definitely looking forward to seeing familiar faces, even if our faces all hold a few more wrinkles and more tales to tell.
Have you attended a high school reunion? What was it like? What impression did you hope to make? What impression did you make? Did you learn anything interesting? And what should I wear to my reunion?