Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Reunited, Does It Really Feel So Good?

I (pretty much) skipped my 20-year high school reunion last weekend. I knew it wasn't going to be Grosse Pointe Blank (I sure didn't know anybody in my class with genius-level intellect, Clash t-shirts, and "a certain moral flexibility"), or even Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. The people in whom the nostalgia gene is dominant are not my enemy by any stretch; I'm just not one of them. High school may have been the best years of their lives, or maybe their life has become so much like what they swore in high school it wouldn't be that they ran back to the old schoolyard in a reclamation effort, or it may have even been a goal to preserve themselves in a sealed package of some kind just to walk into that reunion like the years hadn't passed. Who knows? I only know that I wasn't interested in reliving Four Years That Changed Next To Nothing For Me.

I made the call not to go very much in advance, but that didn't stop me from over-thinking the decision in the 24 hours leading up to the event. My good friend Jeff phoned me earlier to let me know he was flying in for it, and wondered if I was going (in spite of the fact I'd told him explicitly a month ago that I wasn't going. I guess promises made in a TGIF don't count as much.). I repeated that I wasn't planning to, wished him a good time, and made plans to catch up during the weekend.

Then the stupid, tortuous over-thinking began.

Ridiculously elaborate scenarios began twirling through my brain, in areas intended for work-stuff:

What if people think I'm absent because I never liked any of them?

What if the word's going 'round that I'm so despondent about my station in life that I can't face anyone?

What if the word's going 'round that I'm such a cynical snob that I'm looking down on them in derision?

What if people think I'm (yikes!) dead?
(This one didn't linger much--I was really counting on Jeff to clear that up if asked.)

Luckily, I was able to wrestle control of my brain long enough to get back to work and honor some other commitments during the weekend. Then Jeff called Saturday to ask for the last time if was going to the final event, dinner at Seville Quarter. And again I declined, but with an offer of compromise: I would show up at 9:00 (after the dinner), and mingle a little with whoever stuck around. Worked like a charm, I thought. My pre-game estimates on the dinner-attendees:

75% would leave right at 9:00, to relieve their $10/hour babysitter'

15% would leave right at 9:00, to get home before their teenager's doing it on the kitchen table;

And the remaining 10% would be evenly divided: 5% making one last attempt to hang with the old in-crowd and 5% pudgy ex-jocks doing Jagerbombs and discussing how "fucking awesome" Hinder is. (Jesus. I might actually be a cynical post-punk snob.)

It's a little ironic that I'd always viewed my high school years as totally, unfailingly ordinary, but now I was dreaming up a two-decades-on reunion full of subplots and intrigue. Why was I surprised when the event turned out to be as ordinary and unthreatening as high school was? Why was I surprised so many people hung around to close the bars down? After all, I'm married like most of my classmates, and I've got commitments to honor just like they do. I'm there, why shouldn't they be? And I didn't once get treated to an oral dissertation on Nickelback vs. Hinder.

By the end of the evening, I still felt good about my limited attendance. I saw everyone I had the slightest interest in seeing again (most of whom didn't recognize me at all), plus a couple of guys who were really happy to see me.

I can hardly wait five years for the chance to pretty much ignore my 25th.


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