Several weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a high school friend I hadn’t seen since graduation. It was full of the typical updates and gossip about past classmates (This person is getting married. This person is pregnant.) At the end of the letter, my friend wrote, “I’ll see you at our five-year class reunion.”
Five year what?
I immediately called my four best high-school pals for confirmation. Of the 300 plus students I had tossed mortarboards with at our May 2001 ceremony, these girls were the only ones I still kept steady contact with.
It’s true, they all said. Doesn’t it sound like fun?
Fun? Had my friends been taken over by mind-altering aliens?
Not to say that high school hadn’t been fun back when my biggest concern had been what shoes to wear with what pants. I had attended the prom, had written for the school paper and plotted senior pranks that were never carried out (including the one to release a greased pig and flying squirrel through the freshman wing).
But high school had also been the pits. There had been the cliques of cool people who snubbed everyone else and spread vicious rumors about the uncool people for spite, the obvious favoritism of the teachers and the horrors of the scowling lunch monitors who couldn’t communicate without screaming. Oh yes, what fun.
Class reunions, especially five-year ones, are completely pointless. Movies always depict reunions with everyone laughing and hugging and shocking one another. The ugly duckling is now the beautiful swan. The football hunk now sports a beer belly and a bald spot.
And while a lot of people rely on class reunions to prove how much they have changed, losing 50 pounds or snagging an underwear model for a husband isn’t going to make a difference. And in the end, does it really matter what a bunch of old classmates think?
But going to a class reunion is just like going back in time. The people who hated you back then still hate you. The class dork turned runway model is still the class dork, even with her perfect hair and capped teeth. The cheerleaders still end up grouping together, as do the nerds, the druggies and the band dorks. The gossip about how fat this guy is or how much money that girl makes circulates through the party like wildfire.
And suddenly, you’re sitting there wondering what you just drove across the country for.
As for the whole five-year thing, I can’t help but laugh. How much change really takes place five years after high school? Maybe you graduated. Maybe you decided to get hitched. Maybe one or two people have little kids or decent jobs or an apartment that they aren’t sharing with 10 other people.
Maybe in 50 years, I’ll change my mind. By then, we’ll all have lived through a lot more and will be wiser in our old age. More than half of us probably won’t even remember each other or our high school years or past grudges, which will be amusing in itself.
But until then, I’ll rely on my yearbook for memories.
Michelle Poje is a senior newspaper
journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]