Working late, uploading 200+ images to our web server on a slow-as-fuck DSL line, and I just fucked up a SQL script that I’m just too tired to rewrite tonight. What better time to write about my 20 year high school reunion?
I had no intention of going to my reunion by the way. Anyone who knows me knows that I have zero romantic attachments to my youth. Perhaps if I’d had a happier adolescence I might have fonder memories of those times, but I didn’t and those memories can suck my dick. When reminiscing about high school, I remember a lot of good and a whole lot of bad but what I feel in my heart is the desperation and the sadness and the enormous self-loathing that accompanied the vast majority of my waking hours back then. So yeah, high school can piss off.
I hadn’t gone to the 10 year reunion, mostly because I wasn’t invited. I was later told that something like half the class hadn’t received an invitation. I might have felt insulted or hurt if I’d given high school more than five minutes of thought since snagging my diploma from the same teacher who gave me an F in my World Literature class (I laughed at him as he handed it to me…I was kind of terrible in high school). As it was, I hadn’t given it more than five minutes of thought, in addition to which, I was just embarking on a four-year emotional collapse. Good times. Anyway, where the fuck was I?
Oh right. So I had no intention of going to the 20 year reunion for all of the above-mentioned reasons. Then I got an e-mail from my cousin asking me if I was going. Turns out he was on the committee. My answer was no. Some time passed and he e-mailed me again and asked if I was sure. I told him there was no way in hell I could even afford to go since Annette and I had just opened the bakery a month earlier and were officially broke. He e-mailed again and said that he and Dave and Bill were talking about it and decided I needed to be there so they worked out a deal where I’d help the guy taking pictures of everyone and I could get in for free. When someone goes to that much trouble to get you to hang out with them for an evening, you just accept. So I accepted, and the following Saturday night, off we went to the Hilton and I jumped head-first into the past.
Holy crap, everyone got old. I swear to God, I was there for fifteen minutes before I recognized anyone and the only reason I recognized the guy was because he showed me his name tag and said his name. Then, as more people started to show up, I began (sort of) recognizing faces and doing the, “Hey man, great to see ya!” thing, the whole time thinking to myself, “Oh yeah, you exist.”
My wife really wanted to meet one of the girls I went out with but she had to do without because I didn’t see anyone apart from a girl I made out with at a party one night. And even then, there wasn’t any conversation as we only made eye contact as she was walking by and then we went on to looking elsewhere and then the memory kicked in and we looked back at each other and made eye contact again, this time realizing who we were looking at, and then smiling and waving at each other and nothing else. Which is just as it should be really, I don’t even know her name.
Prior to the dinner, they played this bizarre music video featuring a band not at all from the 80’s, but vaguely 80’s in sound. I think the video was literally a YouTube video. No idea what their name was but the song was called “High School Never Ends” I believe. Screw that idea. Then the guy in charge of the reunion committee gives this brief speech about how, “we’re all 17 in this room.” If that were true, I’d have happily confirmed it by putting a gun in my mouth and swallowing a bullet. I wouldn’t go back to 17 if Bill Gates signed his entire estate over to me.
There was another speech about how we’re all a community because of our shared memories and experiences, and the fact that we all remember what a smog day was. True enough, I guess. But I don’t know…so what? I had dinner with a couple girls I’ve only known a little over a year last weekend and there’s more of a connection between us than there is with anyone I went to high school with (not counting the five people I still talk to, of course). Not to say anything negative about any of the people who graduated with me, I’m sure they’re all fine people (except for the ones who aren’t), but I just feel nothing. They’re good folks and it was good to see most of them, but I just don’t feel any connection to them anymore. At all.
I talked to one guy for twenty minutes and when he left, Bill’s fiancee asked me who he was and I told her I didn’t have the slightest idea. And I still don’t. I assume we went to high school together. I ran into a guy I used to walk home from school with every single day back in grade school and I wouldn’t have recognized him if he and I had been living in the same house together for the last year. I ran into another guy named Phil, who I’d completely forgotten about. He and I used to be buddies back in my freshman year. We had English together. We might have been friends for the whole four years, I really can’t recall. I kind of think we weren’t though, because about two days after the reunion I realized there was a day toward the end of my freshman year where I shouted, “Fuck you, Phil!” as I walked out of my English class in anger. Kind of sad really. Apart from seeing him at the reunion, I have no real memories of him other than the two of us laughing a lot.
I was sitting at our table wondering where one of my old buddies was, when his name was mentioned as part of the list of people who’d died since graduation. That was a drag. He was, I believe, the first person in our graduating class to tell a teacher to fuck off (making me the second). I always liked him for that. A couple weeks later I was talking about the reunion with my cousin at his parent’s house and out of nowhere I realized that someone had told me years ago that he’d been killed in some sort of car accident. I forget people all the time. I forget their names, I forget their faces, I forget them entirely. Forgetting news of someone’s death is a new experience for me and not one I like very much. But again, I’ve spent the last twenty years doing my best to forget as much about high school as possible so I suppose I shouldn’t be terribly surprised.
And that’s really all there is to say. It was really great to see a bunch of those people for the first time in 20 years, and I had a good time, and I’m glad I went. But I think I’m done. I’ve said goodbye to high school now and unlike the last time we parted ways, this time it’s on good terms.
I won’t be going to the next one.