Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Reunion Lessons

I arrived at the reunion with my jumping and lurching stomach attempting a violent and twisted escape from my body. My shaking and sweaty hands reluctantly opened the car door. The husband had to drag me in. “This totally sucks,” I muttered under my breath. “What was I thinking? I never should have come.”

Then Barbie said hello to me. Such a simple thing. Saying hello. But it made all the difference in the world. I was still nervous. There definitely were people I didn’t recognize. There were people who didn’t recognize me. But, somehow, it became fun. Everyone was in the same boat. As the weekend went on and I gained more and more courage to speak to my classmates, I became aware that certain reunion moments and circumstances stood out more than others. It was during this microcosm of life that is the class reunion, that I ended up learning a few valuable reunion lessons, and really, perhaps, even life lessons, that form the basis of my fabulous reunion memories.

The Top 15 Ways to Make an Impression at Your Class Reunion
1. Having 6 kids, 2 step kids and 87 animals will most certainly make an impression at a reunion. Your classmates will wonder in awe how in the heck you had the time and the energy to even show up at the reunion after raising all those kids and animals. Some of us still struggle to just get ourselves out of bed in the morning. Wow.

2. Thongs and cleavage and piercings, oh my! Flash your thong underwear to your classmates, show up in a cleavage baring dress that your husband picked out or arrive at the reunion with a nose ring that you didn’t have in high school and your classmates will most definitely be whispering behind your back. And if you surreptitously adjust your adjustable push up bra to the highest level while speaking to your second grade crush, you are guaranteed to start a furor. It won't all be negative gossip, however. Some of us are a bit jealous we don't look like that in a thong or have the guts to pierce something other than our ears.

3. Dance on the table at the banquet and not only will you make an impression on your former classmates but you will earn a mention in this blog as well.

4. If your head looks different than it did in high school people may not recognize you immediately. Your classmates will stand across the room for a long time, casually glancing in your direction, wondering who that is with the shocking red hair. They will make desperate stabbing guesses at who is hiding underneath that bushy facial hair. There will be hushed, critical conjecture as to who in the class had a nose that was that perfectly sculpted and a forehead that didn’t move. Someone will eventually get up enough nerve to ask you your name. Be prepared for looks of shock and disbelief followed by cries of, “No way!”

5. Hold a thoughtful conversation with someone outside of your permitted and expected social circle from high school. At least one of you will walk away shocked, mumbling the words, “She never spoke to me once in high school. Hmmmm……”

6. Exchange furtive glances, subtle touches and personal phone numbers with another classmate and the entire class will know about it within 10 minutes. Gossip travels quickly.

7. Announce to a conservative, religious, Republican classmate that you thoroughly enjoy your new stem cell research job more than your last job at the abortion clinic. Or ask the liberal, environmentalist in the class to help you release all of the latex party balloons into the sky as you tell him all about how you would vote for Bush a third time if you could.

8. Be a jerk to a classmate when you are 8 or 13 or 16 years old. Some people don’t forget. Some people never move on. Some grudges are held for a lifetime. If you find someone giving you the cold shoulder at the reunion, ask yourself if you were unkind to them in 5th grade.

9. Make sure your kid knocks down a few other kids at the class picnic soccer game. If your kid appears to be an insensitive, aggressive bully it will most certainly make an impression on your classmates.

10. Be confident. Confidence is attractive and will be noticed. Whether it be the local radio celebrity or the wheelchair ridden, handicapped advocate, classmates with confidence in who they are stand out.

11. Become responsible. Men, who in high school, couldn’t dress themselves, find their homework, or speak in complete sentences have somehow turned into fabulous husbands and fathers who have no problem holding down a job, changing a diaper or cooking dinner for their wife. This shocks and amazes us all.

12. Live far away. If you travel a great distance to come to the reunion, you will be treated like an exotic celebrity who has an unusual but admirable dedication to your classmates. It helps to have acquired the local accent as well.

13. Overcome a health crisis. This scares us all. We don’t know if we’ll be next. We don’t know if we could do what you have done. You have the respect of everyone.

14. Be on the reunion committee. It is the ultimate thankless job. No one knows how much work it takes to pull off a successful reunion. Almost no one will recognize you for all of your hard work. But people will have a great time. People will enjoy themselves. My reunion was a huge success because of the reunion committee. Thank you.

15. Don’t come. The easiest way to make an impression at your class reunion is to not come at all. It will guarantee days or even weeks of speculation as to why you weren’t there. Your name will be Googled. Websites will be searched. Rumors will start. Before long, your real reason for not coming will pale greatly in comparison to the one created by your nosy, imaginative and curious classmates.

Almost every single person who showed up at my reunion had some issue that made them question whether or not they should go. Somehow though, we all found a way to walk in the door, even if we had to be drug in by the husband. As a result, our reunion was full of people with low self esteem, grey hair, and a few extra pounds. There were people who still looked exactly the same as they did in high school. We saw others with sun damage and wrinkles and age spots. We visited with people who are wealthier than most of us can imagine. There were even a few people that were absolutely, totally hot. We spoke with single mothers, recovering alcoholics and the passionately religious. We compared our adoptions and miscarriages and anti-depressant medications. We were introduced to our classmates’ partners. We saw children with mohawks. We found out someone was a grandparent. We saw classmates who live all over the country and classmates who live 2 blocks from the high school. Our reunion was full of people who brought their old photo albums, shared their story of diving at the Great Barrier Reef, and were able to laugh at their obnoxious ex-husband. What made our reunion great was the people who took a risk, ignored their nerves and walked through the door anyway. They shared their stories with old friends and acquaintances, found things in common with people they had never spoken to before in their lives and maybe even made a new connection or two.

I cannot even begin to guess where the next five or ten years will take us. I can only hope that when the next reunion comes around even more classmates will ignore their nerves and walk through that door--you won’t regret it. So to all my fellow reunion-ites--consider this the first notice for the next reunion. It should give you plenty of time to lose those last couple of pounds, get that MBA and find some inner peace. Then there will be no excuse as to why you can’t come. See you there!

Check This Out!
Definitely rent the movie Goal! The Dream Begins starring Kuno Becker. It's a wonderful rags to riches soccer story. It has great footage and is quite inspirational. Rent it now though, because Goal II: Living the Dream hits theaters in September.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe the table dancer (name withheld to protect the guilty) made the was worth the effort!

Stephanie said...

That's right - I was willing to shamelessly exploit myself to make the blog. What a difference 20 years makes. . . Wait to see what I do at the 30 year reunion!
Melissa - this was too funny!!