Reunion Reflections

Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Perhaps you too have experienced the nausea brought on by the arrival of an invitation to a high school reunion. The angst-O-meter skyrockets, and your first impulse is to rip the thing into a billion little pieces (or in the case of my low budget reunion, immediately hit the email delete button). Your next instinct is to put yourself through a crash course of Life Improvement 101. Surely two weeks is enough time to get a PhD, lose 50 pounds and get my teeth whitened, right?

Apparently not. Especially when you use the first half of those two weeks to contemplate how different your life is now from when you were a teen, and the second half to go on a crying jag.

But here’s the thing — when you are a columnist, all of those nausea-inducing experiences have an upside: you can write about them, venting your amusement for the entire world to see.

I figured my high school reunion column would practically write itself. Just like high school, everyone would drink too much and stick to their own little social pods. The math nerds in one corner, the basketball team in another. The soc’s flitting from table to table with insincere hellos to one and all, while the theatre geeks pirouetted and flounced through the cafeteria. I figured the football players and cheerleaders would either be fat and puffy, or liposuctioned and botoxed beyond recognizability; and that short little kid making jokes in the back of geometry class would have grown into a six-foot-tall internet gazillionaire.

Like I said, the column would practically write itself. I knew exactly what my high school reunion would be like.

And then I went.

My first shocker was the size of my class. Had there been a nuclear explosion or discount tickets to Hawaii that no one had told me about? Had everyone missed the email? Somehow, out a class of almost 500 kids, fewer than 20 of us showed up. I run into more classmates on a typical Saturday at the Little League fields, so I know you’re out there, you cowards.

“Were you home-schooled, mommy?” asks my son.

Not exactly.

Please tell me that my classmates aren’t old enough to use Alzheimer’s or Senility as an excuse to forget about the reunion. We’re not that old yet.

Now in defense of the San Marcos Class of 1981, I will say that the reunion was originally scheduled for the previous weekend and then cancelled until someone stepped up and reserved a space at Tucker’s Grove. So it was kind of a free form, come if you feel like it, bring your own lunch, kind of event, rather than the cocktail party kind of shindigs we’ve had for the past two decades. The kind of painstakingly planned, overpriced parties that hundreds of people showed up for, like clockwork, every five years.

C’mon guys. We’ve got spirit … not so much.

The fact is, only one cheerleader showed up, and none of the jocks.

So what if you had a high school reunion and none of the usual suspects showed up? What if a bunch of people who weren’t even particularly friends with each other showed up instead? What would you talk about? Rather than dwelling on our pasts, which were only marginally shared, we talked mostly about the present. Instead of who’s dating who or who’s wearing what, the conversations were about global warming and world politics, mixed with talk about Trader Joe’s and the best summer camps, and of course, how expensive it is to live in Santa Barbara now and how much more overprotective we are of our kids these days–to a soundtrack of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” the Doobie Brother’s “Black Water,” and the obligatory Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration.”

Of course, we all secretly wondered what someone as young as our self was doing surrounded by all these old people.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Surely you must have better reunion stories to share with Leslie at email

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on August 4, 2006.