Sometimes I think it seems like only yesterday that I was in high school doing high school things. It only seems that way though. Turns out it was actually like ten years ago and I know this because I have a concept of time and can do simple arithmetic, but also because I just attended my ten year high school reunion. And contrary to what TV has shown me for years, it was not in our high school gym adorn with banners and some shitty band playing all those shitty songs designed to remind us of a time that once was, though Kristatothemax did force the jukebox to play The Darkness, which is kind of the same.
So the reunion was not what I expected. Or maybe it was. I really didn’t know what to expect. So I threw on my letter jacket and headed to the Wynkoop brew pub ready to embrace whichever weirdos decided to venture out as well.
Ok, I don’t have the letter jacket. I did get a letter for academics and theater! But I didn’t want to shell out the money for the jacket. I’m not really sure where my letter is right now. Oh well, not like I need it for anything, and nobody else wore theirs.
Anyway, I made my way to the area that was cornered off for us, apparently we weren’t allowed to mingle with the rest of the bar, or someone wanted to make sure we tables and shit, whatever, people came over and used the pool tables anyway and made us move while we were trying to talk, I don’t know why we even had it closed off. So, I got over there and the first people I saw were my old college roommate Compton Ass Carrie and her husband Mike. Awesome, people I’ve talked to in the last year and don’t have to worry about any awkwardness. That and Mike is really friendly, engaging, and disarming. A short conversation with him and I was at ease and ready to deal with anyone I might encounter.
Or so I thought. As I made my way to the other end of the shuffle board table to chat with Compton Ass, someone who I later found out was a kid from high school, stood back and to the left of me and didn’t say anything. He was in a suit, sans jacket, with white suspenders, and he had kind of long hair that was half in a pony tail. You know, like that pony tail thing where there is still free hanging hair behind it. I can’t even think of a pop-culture reference to help explain it because it is so ridiculous that no one would ever do it, not even as a joke, it’s a shitty ponytail. He just stood there, I wasn’t sure if I knew him, and if I didn’t I definitely did not want to. So I watched the shuffle board match until he walked away, which felt like an eternity. I would hear from many people that this kid was the weirdest person they talked to that night.
I made my way over to other people I had seen in the past year. I was slowly working my way up to people I knew one year at a time. They recently had a child, I got one kid story and decided that was enough and opted to start mingling with the familiar strangers.
This would start what would be the most annoying aspect of the night, telling the same god damned thing over and over. It’s not even like I had a long dragged out story along the lines of I kicked around Golden for a year before moving to Fort Collins where I worked on building my alcohol tolerance. Then there was the two weeks where I thought death was imminent, but was able to overcome it and now live with a digestive disease that is actually pretty gross to talk about in public, and in private, but is ok to share in a blog on a humor website. Now I work as an office assistant for an oil and gas company and live in Lakewood behind the Kaiser Permanente while attending online school for psychology. And I’m not romantically involved with anyone as I make poor decisions when it comes to the ladies. Then I make everyone uncomfortable as I psychoanalyze my life choices.
No, the extent of my answer was I’m living in Lakewood and work downtown at an oil and gas company. That was it, but by the fifth person I just gave up. Someone asked what I had been up to and I replied with, “Nothing.” Ten years since we’ve talked and I haven’t done a damned thing? Sure, why not? So I was tired of telling the same damn story, but also there was a part of me, the low self-esteem part, that didn’t believe anyone really cared what I have been doing the past ten years. I didn’t go to the moon or cure cancer or anything, so who gives a shit? Then there was also the part of me that didn’t really care what anyone else had been up to so I figured it was only fair they didn’t care about my shit.
It’s not as if I don’t want to talk to these people, clearly I do otherwise I would have stayed home. And it would become clear there were worse people. I would see some people I recognized and all I could think was how much I really didn’t want to talk to them. It got to the point where I was even planning my bathroom routes in ways which would ensure I would avoid them. Maybe they were decent people now, I wouldn’t know, nor would I care. I recall seeing one of them a year or two removed from high school at my shitty retail job and she was making conversation and acting like she didn’t spend the six previous years ignoring me. I’m too happy, and my shit is too awesome right now for any phonies.
I found the most interesting people I talked to were the ones I also went to elementary school with. I talked to this one kid who has been exceptionally smart since, I’m assuming, birth who was in my third grade class. He had aced something like 15 spelling tests in a row so he got to choose our bonus word one week and he chose, “Czechoslovakia.” Because of him, in the third I not only knew how to spell the name of some communistic country, but I also knew there was such a thing as a silent “Z.” I brought this up to him and he didn’t recall that happening. It was an interesting commentary about what we keep with us. Czechoslovakia was something he was familiar with and thus this third grade experience had not impact on him, meanwhile some twenty years later I can still recall when I learned what Czechoslovakia was and how to spell it (I didn’t even have to use spell check for it in this article, amazing).
As the night progressed I was asked by someone, “Who was the weirdest person I had talked to at the reunion.” I scanned the room and couldn’t really come up with an answer. He said it was that guy I mentioned earlier who just stood behind me with the shitty ponytail. Which made sense. But between getting asked that question and writing this I was thinking about this notion of who was the weirdest person I talked to. What was the gauge here? Was it weird in terms of who I am? In which case it would have been like 75% of the people I talked to. Was it weird in terms of what society has deemed normal? Then yeah Shitty Ponytail was probably the right answer. Or was it in terms of high school and now?
For instance, I talked to my old friend Buddy, who now has a fairly robust beard, was wearing a turquoise hat that was similar in style to the one Mike Love wore when the Beach Boys were on “Full House,” had big framed glasses, and one dangling earring. By all accounts this is generally weird. But knowing Buddy and how he was in high school, this seemed exactly like where he would be ten years later. That is how I felt about everyone I talked to at the reunion. No one seemed weird, but rather they were on the path I expected them to be on once they were able to leave the confines of the high school life style. In high school most people are going to be who they are, it is just repressed. Once they leave and are able to find more like minded people then they can embrace more of who they are and grow into that. So while Shitty Ponytail was the weirdest person he talked to, was he really all that surprised by what Shitty Ponytail became?
The last couple of years, when the idea of a reunion was looming, I found myself debating about if it was something I wanted to attend. With the likes of Facebook, was it something that would be worth attending? I knew there were some people I was hoping to reconnect with, but was it enough to get me there. Dagger mentioned how he wanted to attend his if only for writing fodder, then his never happened (because class of 2000 ain’t got nothin’ on class of ’01, bitches!). So I thought I should maybe take the reins on that, though it would have been interesting to compare our two experiences. I also think a reunion is a great place for psychological and sociological research.
Every aspect and idea of a reunion seems odd, lame, and tacky. It was something we did ten years ago, but we learned a lot and met friends. It was a pivotal point in many lives, yet seems like something we were all dying to get away from. Now we get together every ten years to talk about these things. It’s such a peculiar tradition. All in all, I actually enjoyed myself and was glad I went. I drank beers, made jokes, and reconnected with an old friend (he works down the street from me; we’re doing lunch next week). What’s not to like about this? I’m actually looking forward to the twenty year reunion, except for the likely hood of more children talk. I’ll just have to make sure to start that day the same way as this one: with 11 beers.
See ya in detention…
29 Sep 2011 Lee S. Hart