I received an invitation this week to my 35-year high school class reunion.
I’m not sure how that’s possible, since in my mind, I am still a young man.
I appreciate the volunteers who put these things together, but I won’t be attending the festivities.
Perhaps it’s different for those who attend small schools, but the idea of hanging around in a banquet room at a bar all evening with a bunch of strangers doesn’t appeal to me.
I may have known these people at least some of them in high school, but that was a long time ago.
I’m not much on chitchat, and sitting around comparing battle scars doesn’t interest me.
Reminiscing about the things we have in common would take about 10 minutes, which would leave a lot of evening to fill.
There are a few people I wouldn’t mind seeing, but I suspect those people will not be among those who show up at the reunion.
What seems more likely is the people I didn’t talk to in school will be the ones who attend, and I still won’t want to talk to them.
I don’t mean to sound negative, but there is some justification for my cynicism.
When my mother was alive, I passed through the old neighborhood occasionally, and years after high school, I encountered some of the same people sitting on the same barstools, drinking the same brand of beer, smoking the same brand of cigarettes, and telling the same old stories.
I fear these are the people I’d find at the reunion.
There were a lot of students in my graduating class, and many were bright, fascinating people. I have no doubt they have led interesting lives.
I wouldn’t mind hearing about them, but I doubt they will be there.
Reunions are odd things. I believe there is a natural, if irrational, desire to impress the people we knew in school.
Some people may want to impress others with their achievements, how much money they make, or what a perfect family they have raised.
I have heard people practically in a panic because they “need” to lose weight before they attend a reunion.
If I was worried about impressing anyone, it would be the people who are a part of my life now, not a roomful of strangers I haven’t seen for decades and probably won’t see again.
Another thing that creeps me out about reunions is the morbid “wall of death” that becomes part of the ritual for people my age.
I know some of our classmates have died, but I’m not going to stand around gawking at a wall full of tributes to classmates who have cashed in their chips.
As time goes by, more and more of my peers will be handing in their dinner pails, so each successive reunion becomes a kind of bizarre contest to see who is still on the sunny side of the sod.
Based on reports I’ve heard from classmates who have attended previous reunions, I gather only a small percentage of our class attends these events.
It’s too bad, really. I’m not opposed to the idea of reunions. It’s just that I fear the reality won’t live up to the ideal.
High school for me was not some golden dream. It was a cliquey, political, confusing mess populated by people motivated by insecurity and greed, and driven by anxiety and the need to fit in (rather like a microcosm of the adult world). The people who didn’t like me then still won’t like me now, and I’m OK with that.
My classmates were a mix of all the traits of people anywhere. The only thing that tied us together was the coincidence of having been in the same place at the same time many years ago.
Instead of meeting these strangers in a crowded room and trying to remember who the heck they are, I think I’ll settle for remembering them the way they were all those decades ago when we were young and invincible, and it was all still ahead of us.