So this weekend was my ten year high school reunion. I have a multitude of things to say about it and most of them aren't that good. Bare with me, this is a rant.
Up front I will say that yes, the reunion was voluntary and there wasn't a gun to my head forcing me to go. I will also say that I was voluntarily the sound and music guy for the event and so my gripes about that are also my own fault. But I have decided that the whole concept of a high school reunion is an absolute crock.
Why Reunions Suck:
Reason 1: While the people I went to high school with may have gotten prettier, balder, fatter, married with kids, etc. They really haven't changed all that much in areas that count. The shallow, self-absorbed people are still shallow and self-absorbed. The friendly people are still friendly. The jerks are still kind of jerks. Maybe the handful of years has dulled their edges a bit but most people are the exact same people you knew in high school, just older.
Reason 2: Having said all of that, everyone still hangs out with the people they hung out with in high school. So when you go to these events, you aren't actually going to a reunion where people commune as a group, you are going to a big room so that everyone can sit and stand in their same cliques they belonged to in high school. Sure, I got to hang out with some people I haven't seen for a while and it was nice to be able to talk with and joke with some of them again but really, this is nothing that I couldn't have done at a barbecue or some other smaller, more personal event.
Reason 3: By the end of day two of the reunion, I could just about have punched anyone in the face that came up to me to make casual chit chat. I like making small talk with people, I do it all of the time when I bump into people at Walmart. The big difference is that at these things, people feel obligated to talk to you even if they know they probably don't have a single thing in common with you other than the fact you went to the same school at the same time. At least at Walmart, the small talk is free and if you really want to, you can avoid people that you don't want to talk to and not seem like a dick.
Reason 4: The whole thing just kind of felt like a big pissing contest to me. People coming up and talking to me and then without prompting, telling me what they are doing with themselves now, like I have a speck of interest. And then when the guy tells you that he works at a steel working shop or an insurance company, you have to feign being impressed as to not come off like a dick. I hate having to be fake in order to fit into a situation and I did a lot of that this weekend. What I have learned is that most of the people I went to school with are a pretty mediocre bunch of folks. This isn't a bad thing, I just expected more. I expected people to not be amazed I lived in Japan for a while or could speak Japanese. I know I wasn't the only one to have gone away for a while but it seemed like I became known as the guy that lived in Japan. Was I really one of the handful of people to have actually gotten out into the world and lived somewhere other than Idaho or Oregon? I have to say, most of my classmates have let me down in that regard.
Another thing that irks me, not so much about the reunion but kind of at a few of my friends is the fact that they had a slightly different view of the reunion. They said that they didn't have a lot of people coming up and talking to them and that the reason so many people talked to me was because I am a memorable person. How the hell did I get to be so memorable?! I never went out of my way to get attention. I just kind of did my thing. Yes, my thing involved being in Drama and writing for the school paper but I didn't do that stuff for attention. I wrote in the paper because I like to write and I was in Drama because that is where a lot of my friends were. I never jumped up and down in the halls yelling "Look at me! Look at me!" I was just me and I don't feel like I am any more or less memorable than my friends. I didn't want to stand out, I just wanted to keep my head down and get through the whole ordeal of high school. I never wanted to be popular and I don't think I was, I just knew a lot of people and could talk to them. I guess that is one way that I haven't changed...I am an extrovert whether I like it or not.
The one odd event of the whole thing was this:
I forgot that in high school I was one of the "Crazy Bread Guys". Basically, me and my friends Jon and Vince got on the morning announcements a couple of times a week and did a funny skit promoting Crazy Bread bread sticks from Little Caesar's. I completely and totally forgot I did this but a lot of people I talked to remembered those skits and how funny they were. I will admit, some of the skits were a crack up but I didn't think they would be anything people would talk about ten years from then. I was wrong. This caught me totally off guard because when I started to think about them, most of the skits I could remember doing kind of sucked.
It is strange what people remember you for. No one mentioned all of the trouble I got into on computers back then or how a good chunk of my friends and I wore trench coats. No one told me(at least not to my face)that I was a dick to them in high school, which toward some of the people who were there, I know I was. I guess I have mellowed out and have grown up a tad. I will admit, some of the kind of mean stuff that cracked me up in high school, still makes me giggle. The difference is that I wouldn't act the same way if most of that stuff happened to or around me now. Nothing like having your maturity shoved in your face. :P
The good thing that came out of this weekend was seeing a few people that I had really been looking forward to seeing, like Toby Borup and Joe Elder. It was fun to catch up with them and others that I did truly miss from high school. It is funny that people I knew then and got along with, I still got along with this weekend and we hadn't seen each other in at least eight years. Like I said, I don't think people really change all that much so it makes sense.
The big question is, will I go to my twentieth reunion? I kind of doubt it. Part of me says, it will be the exact same horse and pony show and it will leave me in a slightly bad mood like this one did. The other part of me says that maybe ten years just isn't enough time for people to drastically change and maybe in ten more years that will be a different story. Most of the people there this weekend felt like strangers to me and if I want to talk to strangers, I can just go to a bar. I have decided that instead of going to the reunion, I will just broaden the web of people I keep in contact with and make an effort to maintain communication with them.
I did volunteer to spearhead the fiftieth reunion. I figure that by that time, most of us will be dead and I can just make arrangements for the survivors to meet at McDonalds for breakfast one morning. That way it will be more personal and maybe by that time, some of them will have stories to tell me instead of the other way around.