For me, class reunions are worse than birthdays. I don’t know why that is, and I don’t know why I’m already getting worked up about my 20th class reunion, coming up in July. But there is it, already. Here’s a history:

In 1990, I found myself being pretty anxious as the date of my first high school reunion began looming. And, I thought I had good reason: A couple years earlier, I had gone to the trouble of flunking out of college and decided that I would follow an old family tradition and join the military — the Army, in my case — while I got together whatever shit I needed to get together. While that was the right move — the Army part, not so much the part about flunking out of school — I was worried that many of my 550 classmates from my hoity-toity suburban high school would cast aspersions on what passed for my occupation at that time.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find that nearly everyone was just as freaked out by the reunion as I was. Much too freaked out, in fact, to spend a great deal of time judging anyone else. I heard from a number of people who said they were jealous that I would be returning to school later that year (which turned out to be the following summer, thanks to the Persian Gulf War), instead of having to deal with the real world, as many of them were facing for the first time.

The other cool thing about the five-year reunion was the setting: A place called Big Bear Farms, north of town, really just a party shelter and a big fucking field. Line up the kegs and go at it. And we did. That was a great night, that ended with one of the kegs and a bunch of people at my house for an after-hours. I think one of the committee members stopped over later the next week to sheepishly pick up the empty from my dad, while I was back at Fort Knox.

1995. Some trepidation, and even some discussion among a couple of my closest friends about not going. But the fond recollections of the party five years earlier — and a little pushing from The Wife, who at that point was solidly The Girlfriend — and I decided to go. The setting this time was, um, an interesting choice: A museum, the Center of Science and Industry in downtown Columbus. After the novelty wore off (about 30 minutes, if you’re curious), it was too disjointed, people spread out over three floors, in multiple rooms, hard to find the folks you wanted to see.

Oh yeah — NO SMOKING. Had to take an elevator downstairs and smoke on the sidewalk next to Broad Street. Grrr.

Even worse than the setting was the number of people who seemed to be back in social climbing mode. Certainly not everyone was guilty, but … it was just … different. Disappointingly so. Ten years after finishing high school should be enough time to be comortable with yourself and everyone else. Instead, it just felt like we were back where we were in 1985. Not fun.

And it was capped off by yet another after-hours back home. A bowl showed up from somewhere and Uncle Crappy suddenly became very sleepy. The Wife was not pleased, because she was stuck in my house with my former high school girlfriend and a good contingent of her buddies. But as a few of my good friends were still around, she agreed to put up with the silence that the Ex and her friends were throwing her way.

At least, that’s how it worked for a few minutes, until my friends bailed on The Wife, shortly after agreeing not to leave her alone with those people. She tried to make conversation but after being shut out, she got me up and told me rather pointedly to do something. Anything. I walked out in the kitchen and said: “It was great to see everyone, BUT IT’S TIME TO GO HOME. NOW.”

After that clusterfuck — and after hearing that the 15th reunion in 2000 would be held at COSI’s new building — I dug my heels in. Not going. Nope. I made a killer mix tape for my closest friends (titled Turbo Pinto, an affectionate-but-mostly-sarcastic nickname for my first car). Juan hosted an anti-reunion party on his back porch, and I got to see a few of the people I really wanted to see.

Fun night. But I felt like a wimp.

And here we are, with the 20th reunion about 10 weeks away. I shouldn’t have any anxiety about this shit. I have nothing to be embarrassed about, personally or professionally. I found and married the person I was supposed to spend my life with. I have a good job that makes me happy most of the time. Our time spent outside of work is fulfilling. I usually don’t worry too much about my age and its rapid ascent. What the fuck is my problem?

Anyway, as I said in the last post, I’m committed. The setting, a niceish restaurant in the center of Upper Arlington, should be a huge improvement. I’ve recently gotten back in touch with some friends, and I’m genuinely excited about seeing them. I’m still going to be nervous as hell, but I’m going to try to get that under control and enjoy it for a change.

Oh, and The Wife and HP have agreed that they may just kick the Ex’s ass if she misbehaves. I’d pay extra to see that.

7 Comments

  1. Alas, poor Yorick!

    You’re usually so much smarter than this. What an opportunity. I have a picture in my head…You slip into work mode, inquisitive and sincere, and mock the hoity-toity snobs. Think about doing a human interest piece on the pressures of going back, of facing your classmates, of realizing that most of them are full of shit.

    In 10 weeks, you should be able to prepare plenty of questions for your “Reunion Report”. Let me get you started.

    “Hey Bucky, what would you be doing today if you had to get a job without your father pulling enough strings to be called the puppetmaster?”

    “Oh Buffy, who are you wearing tonight?

    A few skull sessions with The Wife, friends and a bottle, or two, of scotch should produce the necessary material to get you through the evening without any major trauma. And if not, at least you will spend a few evenings with The Wife, friends and a bottle or two of scotch.

    And one last thing, I’m still having recurring nightmares from attending this event in 1995.

    Good Luck.

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  2. I know, I know … It probably has a lot less to do with the people I’m going to run into than it does me being a whiny bitch about getting older …

    I had already kicked around the notion of bringing a notebook along; that kind of think tends to freak people out a bit, so I probably wouldn’t get it out unless circumstances were especially dire.

    I’m curious, Oh Large One: What were your impressions of the 10-year shindig? Am I totally off-base here? Or do I need to shut the fuck up and get over it?

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  3. do i sense a mass movement of attendence brewing…? (YOU think its bad to face reunions; id have to bring a poor innocent danish man with me whose knowledge of the real american begins and ends with south beach and my grandmother’s condo and shopping for guns at wal-mart late one saturday night – and let me tell you, even with the above experience as an appetizer, how on earth does one even BEGIN to explain…!)

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  4. Wow. I thought it a difficult thing to explain to The Wife, but you got me there.

    And yes, it does appear that we’re all ready to give it a try — once a decade can’t hurt too much, I guess. And, for me, it helps that we’re going to a COSI of any kind…

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  5. bring the notebook, a bottle of scotch and some quality mexican fireworks. When the mindless inquire…start ranting about the end of days and only those who maintain those puma-like reflexes will survive. Hence, using the random loud explosions to see how folks react all the while talking notes.

    Or, just drink the scotch with yer old buddies and remind yourself of how nice it is to have escaped…

    -buy the ticket, take the ride

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  6. I bought the ticket decades ago. Come July, I’ll be ready for the ride.

    The fireworks are a nice suggestion; I’ll have to see if Juan can get any of the “Are You Crazies” he came across in Chinatown a few years back…

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  7. I am what I am, that’s all that I am

    -Popeye the Sailor Man

    long and short of it, I’m going to hang with my old buddies, drink some cocktails and possibly kick some ex-girlfriend ass. If we have some Pleasant unexpected Guest Appearances, it will be a bonus!

    Fuck ’em all if they can’t take a joke…
    or get off their High Horses.

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