The high school reunion
February 9, 2010 By Ian Robinson
IT had to happen eventually.
I dodged the bullet the last time it came around, but this time I’m going to let it hit me.
You see, the life cycle of a human being living in North America is pretty much as follows.
You are born.
You attend kindergarten where you learn that while library paste tastes pretty good, the grown-ups won’t let you eat it.
Grownups will continue to appear in your life in various guises and it is rarely a pleasant event for you.
These grownups will include, but are not limited to, parents, teachers, bosses, parole officers, doctors, personal assistants, clergy, and long-term girlfriends who turn into wives.
Despite their various roles, their job is to give you crap and your job is to take it.
Live long enough and the grown-ups giving you crap are your own children.
“Dad! Stop eating the paste!”
“I thought it was oatmeal.”
“It’s not. It's paste.”
“Maybe you should learn to make better oatmeal. Then I could tell it apart from the paste.”
“Do you want to be shipped to the old age home?”
“No. I want you to smother me with a pillow so I don’t have to listen to you anymore.”
“Shut up and watch your Matlock.”
“I don't want to watch Matlock. I want to watch Baywatch.”
Between kindergarten and the great paste/oatmeal debate of your declining years, life is pretty much consumed by what the great TV sitcom philosopher Al Bundy referred to as “minimum wage slow death.”
Or as I like to call it, my job.
Work itself is punctuated by kids, a few vacations, some hangovers—OK, in my case a LOT of hangovers, 50 or so broken New Year’s resolutions and some diets.
And your high school reunion.
To give you an idea of just how sentimental my classmates are and just how much school spirit we’re still carrying around, my school opened in 1968 and so far, we’ve had one reunion, which I skipped.
The second is coming in July and I’m going because…well because I was surfing the Internet drunk again and signed up.
Plus I’m at an age where I no longer have the urge to kidnap selected teachers from those years, strip them naked and hunt them through the forest with a stun gun, a Doberman and a sharpened stick.
Because, let’s face it, a lot of them would be senior citizens now and who needs to see naked seniors running terrified through the forest?
Plus there are serious questions to be answered from those years.
1) Why didn’t we notice the young Elton John was gay? (Seriously. We didn’t. Never occurred to us. We just thought he was really, really…British.)
2) Did Suzie the Snotty Cheerleader who wouldn’t talk to me, not once, not ever in all those years of secondary education, get fat? Really, really fat? It would be really cool if Suzie was now in a position to audition for The Biggest Loser. Really. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Nope. Not me. Not-Bitter Robinson, that’s my name.
3) Did anybody get a sex change? That would be cool.
4) Did the people I cared about turn out OK?
5) Did I turn out OK by comparison to everybody else?
6) Did anybody have a secret crush on me and will they let me know about it at the reunion and make me feel good about my past pathetic high school self…and was it Suzie the Snotty Cheerleader who wasn’t really snotty just kind of shy around boys and not asking me to the prom is her greatest regret?
Aside from satisfying morbid curiousity, the high school reunion amounts to either a genuine, life-destroying horror show, as much fun as an all-day prostate exam, or a golden opportunity, depending on how well you’re doing in life right now.
By “doing well” you might think that has something to do with how much money you make or how much good you’ve done in the world.
And you would be absolutely and completely wrong.
See, if Bill Gates were to attend his high school reunion, he would still be that socially awkward nerdy guy who didn’t date much.
Plus everybody would be mad at him now because Windows still doesn’t make your PC run like a Mac.
And speaking of not dating, imagine the jokes at the Pope’s high school reunion. Doesn’t matter what he does for a living, how much good he does or the fact that he’s wearing the most awesome hat ever.
In high school terms, he’s still the guy who isn’t getting lucky with the chicks.
Money, power, fame… none of it matters in high school reunion world.
Only one thing is important.
It’s the reason a publisher brought out a little tome called The High School Reunion Diet.
Because high school reunions aren’t about grown-up life.
Reunions are just like high school.
And what matters is what mattered then: Looks.
Which goes a long way toward explaining why I’m drinking nothing but water and eating salad three times a day and logging so much gym time it’s seriously cut into my drunken net surfing.
The latter is probably a good thing because my wife no longer has to search my browser history to see if I’ve ordered a new wife from the Far East again.
Although…wouldn’t it be cool to be the guy who turns up at the high school reunion with two wives?
Just a thought.
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