If you were to ask, I bet most people would say that class reunions—whether high school or college—were a waste of time. That’s generally what I hear anytime the subject is broached. And I have never heard anyone get excited at the prospect of attending, even in the case of five-year reunions, which to me seem close enough to graduation to still be fun.
I didn’t attend mine, of course, but that’s because (a) the person in charge of organizing the event “dropped the ball” or (b) the reunion got tossed in with some alumni event. And since I discard most of the mailings arriving from my alma maters (the majority of which involve fundraising, which is of no interest to a person with limited resources… I have to eat, after all)—I still don’t know the truth. Maybe I did miss the damn thing.
Anyway, I was recently invited to a reunion of sorts—it was actually a cookout during alumni weekend at the college where I work—and decided to really get into it, especially given my previous reunion misgivings. Sure, I never actually went to this school, much less graduated from it, but I certainly felt like an honorary graduate.
You see, I used to work—and party—with a lot of these folks. We waited tables together, bartended together or met up through mutual friends at “off-campus gatherings”—which is a nice way of saying that we did some crazy you-know-what when we were younger. I even work with some graduates now, since many alums return to campus in staff, faculty or administrative roles later. This means I know people who graduated in nearly every decade since the 1960s, not to mention grads from a good number of years throughout.
And since I myself was not a graduate—and it was in this context that most attendees would likely view each other (digging through their college memories to place names with faces)—I could travel relatively incognito. Some of my best friends would know me immediately. Former acquaintances would remember me vaguely, but hopefully in a positive way. And others wouldn’t know me at all… but I would probably know them.
It sounded like fun to me.
Prior to the cookout, I joined a Facebook page for the event and started monitoring it to see who was planning to come. Told you I was getting into it. On this page, I could also see who might attend, who might not, and who was too freaking lazy to respond to the one-click, yea-or-nay invitation they received.
Odd that people can find time to update their FB status, tell me about their latest bowel movement and how it resembled Justin Bieber with his old haircut, post pictures of the nasty meal they’re about to choke down and still miss an invitation to their class reunion. Some people’s priorities are so out-of-whack that I weep for the future.
It looked like a lot of my old friends were planning to come, so I found myself getting pretty excited and reminisced about some of the “trouble” we got into back in the day—I set off “trouble” because nothing we did was very serious, at least not from a legal perspective. Damn it. I’ve probably said too much already. Sorry, pals.
My Internet wanderings also led me on a search to see what other people thought about class reunions. I didn’t dig very deep, but the best I could find were surveys from 1961 asking people when their reunion should be held, or some such question.
Incidentally, the answer seems to be August or July, which apparently represent the national averages for reunion planning (21% and 23% respectively). I found that on my reunion search, too. Thanks, ReunionAnnouncements.com!
The day of the big cookout finally came and throughout the morning and afternoon, pictures of alumni on the local scene kept popping up on Facebook. There they were at a local restaurant, tossing back shots and trading stories about the old days. Or watching some athletic event, maybe one they played when they were here as students. Either way, it looked like plenty of people made the trip. And since the band playing the event also had connections to the college—the lead singer was a graduate, if I’m not mistaken—it promised to be a fun time for all.
And in many ways, it was.
I made it to the cookout in the late afternoon to find it pretty vacant, but steadily picking up. There was plenty of food and free beer to be had—and I took advantage of them both, in courteous moderation, of course—but being a staff member definitely put a damper on things, or so I thought initially.
Then I remembered that most of the attendees—myself included—were older, had kids and just couldn’t sustain a late-night throw-down anyway. Most of us could still drink effectively, mind you. Some things never change. We just couldn’t get hammered, get wild and get up the next morning with no regard for consequences.
A few people brought their families with them, for goodness sake.
So that was kind of a downer, but only in terms of making us all long for our lost youth. It was nice to remember some of the things we did, to address some of the drama we created and to get past old grudges and misunderstandings. Sure, there was still some bad blood here and there, but that’s certainly to be expected.
Another down side to class reunions that I hear people mention is all the judging and showboating that goes on as former classmates try to impress each other with their savvy business achievements… or ridicule the people with shorter, less impressive resumes, which probably happens more often. This may be true—as I said, I have very little frame of reference here. But that certainly wasn’t the case at this cookout reunion. In fact, I would have to say that the opposite was true.
For whatever reason, people I hadn’t seen in years—and even some I’d never met before—opened up their hearts and shared their personal stories and struggles with me. And I returned the “favor” by sharing a few of my own, which normally makes them feel a whole lot better. It was definitely nice and I had the opportunity to add a few new friends in the process. And not Facebook friends, either. Real friends in tangible reality.
What a novel concept!
Another upside to this great event—and one I would hesitate to mention if I possessed any sort of internal filter, which I don’t—were the beautiful young ladies in attendance. Yes, we had all aged a little and picked up a few pounds and wrinkles along the way. And yes, most would refer to us as middle-aged, a term I very much dislike at the start of my forty-second year, but I can live with that. And judging from some of the beautiful women I saw and spoke with, time had treated them just fine. Beauty is beauty at any age, right?
Of course, most (if not all) of them are married with loving husbands and beautiful kids, so the “hook ups” of the past are but a distant memory. Even if they weren’t, the parties die down around eight o’clock anyway. And though I really show my age when I say this, I don’t know anyone who can stay up past ten, at least not if they’re parents. There simply isn’t time to hook up anymore, and in some ways, it’s a real shame.
It’s probably a lot safer this way, no doubt, but it’s hardly more fun.
All in all, though, I have to admit that my first pseudo class reunion was fun, albeit it very laid-back. All the components for a good time were there: good food, fellowship, reminiscing, networking, activities for kids, music, beer and wine, a free taxi service. And it was a good time, despite ending so early and reminding us all that regardless of how fond our memories are, we can never go back to being the people we were back then.
Memories will just have to be enough.
Posted on April 8, 2013, in Life, Perspectives and tagged Class reunion, creative writing, Facebook, High school, humor, Justin Bieber, personal, Reunions and Alumni, United States. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.