11.26.2006

Why Yes, it WAS Just Like Romy and Michelle. I Even Wore the Pink Dress.

When you wake up with a giant zit smack between your eyes, it can only mean one thing--it's the morning of your twentieth high school reunion.

Twenty years. Two-zero. Which is impossible when you do the math, considering I'm hardly out of my teens myself. (Coughcough)

A twenty year reunion is a weird thing because at this point, you've actually been out of school longer than you were in it. Back in those days when even a summer--especially one spent away from a boyfriend--seemed like a lifetime, and your entire group of friends could change three times over the course of a year, twenty years was inconceivable. A lifetime. Ten lifetimes. We never could have imagined that two decades later, we’d still be alive and kicking without the help of artificial breathing devices. Hell, we thought we'd be teleporting by '06.

A lot of us, amazingly, are still in touch with one another, either directly or with a couple of degrees between us. Name any of the 350 or so people in my high school class, and relatively quickly, I could find out what most of them are up to. Because of this, I knew it would be a fun night, without too many surprises. At least it would be more fun than some of the other reunion stories I've read about. Although I do agree with Amalah on one count - I probably can't be as candid as I'd like to be about everything.

So despite the fact that I'm not going to tell you which classmate was an absolute train wreck, or who slurred my ear off about his lame career, or which former acquaintance made the catty comment about me having good hair (gasp) that I might have actually (gasp) spent time on before heading out for the night, I'll try to keep things interesting.

(Psst - high school friends reading: Email me. I could be convinced to spill.)

Going into the evening, I had three strikes against me, not counting the zit, which really should count as two strikes on its own, considering its sheer enormity:

1. I am pregnant and jiggly.

2. I can’t drink.

3. Officially.

Thank God for that one awesome old friend who let me steal sips of her Magic Hat No. 9 all night. Not that I ever got a buzz on, because that would be WRONG, WRONG. But it did make me feel just a little rebellious, as one should feel when surrounded by people with whom she once shared bong hits instead of going to French class.

While there were maybe only 75 of us there, the group contained the all the characters mandatory at high school reunions.

There was The Drunk Girl Who Rambles On About People You Have No Memory Of--Hey, have you seen Marla lately? She looks AWESOME! Smile and nod. Hey, remember that big party at Jenny's house sophmore year? That ROCKED! Smile and nod. You know what's crazy? Tony now works in REAL ESTATE! Excuse yourself to find Magic Hat friend.

(The truth is, I have an insane memory for people and faces. If I don't know what she's talking about, no one does. In fact I don't think those people even went to our school.)

A few of us got a kick out of The Couple Who Is Way Too In Love - the one who doesn't let go of each other's hands while arguing about who got luckier. "I did, Schmoopie." "No, I did, BooBoo!" Maybe it's just cynicism, but I can't help but wonder whether the performance was scripted for the benefit of ex-girlfriends in the room, or whether they were a real couple at all. I imagined a sitcom moment where a recently divorced and heartbroken classmate pays a cousin to play the part of devoted spouse for the night.

Then there was the Too-Young Girlfriend Who Drunkenly Mistook Her Boyfriend for a Stripper Pole.

And of course we were joined by everyone’s favorite reunion archetypes: The Geeky Kid Who's Now Cool and The Hot Girl Who's Now Geeky. The former gives us all hope. The latter gives us all hope. Tell your teenage daughters.

On second thought, you can't tell them. They won’t hear it. The same way you can't tell them that those guys on Laguna Beach are grade-A losers with the personality of toe fungus, they’ll never believe that the captain of the football team will grow up to have a huge beer gut and a dead-end desk job at his uncle’s construction company; or that the guy who can’t hit a baseball is going to be a famous Hollywood producer who looks great in jeans.

But it’s truuu-uuuuue.

Despite my mild cattiness here (although I prefer to think of it as observational humor), the evening as a whole was not divisive or cliquey in the least.

I recall at my ten-year reunion the mild undercurrent of competitiveness, the need for people to prove that they’d made something of themselves as adults. I distinctly remember being thrilled that I could go back to my reunion having just been promoted to vice president. There were still some unkind glances thrown between former cliques as we whispered, eyebrows raised, about who had gotten fat and who was still living at home. Few people were married. Still fewer had started families. The competitiveness was only heightened by the sexual tension in the air, as guys who had since discovered hair products and women who had learned the joys of brow sculpting grinded on the dance floor with old crushes formerly out of their leagues. And why not. We were twenty-somethings. We played the parts as they were written for us.

What a difference ten years makes.

Now as thirty-somethings pushing (eek) forty-something, it was a different game entirely.

The former hippies, the former druggies, the former cheerleaders or athletes or theater kids or band geeks—most of us are now someone’s mom or dad. That’s what we were all proud of most. There was a little career talk. But mostly there was family talk. Home buying talk. Marriage and remarriage talk. Committed partner talk. Preschool talk. Even the child-free had nephews or nieces to gush about, or future family dreams to share.

And then I realized that my growing belly seemed less like the hindrance I thought it woudl be, and more like social currency. A conversation starter. A unifier. Even better, it was one of several in the room, each one tied to a beautiful, glowing, 38 year-old face above it.

(And JP, if you’re reading? You win the prize for dedication, mama, showing up 8 ½ months pregnant. Your kid's going to come out of the womb singing the MHS fight song.)

The small social circles that formed around the dark bar glowed with the backlighting of family photos flashed electronically on ipods, on cell phones, on digital cameras. The reactions looked gracious. And genuine. It’s hard to hold a grudge against a beaming new dad, even if he did make your life just a wee bit hellish 21 years earlier.

Kumbaya.

There were definitely a few highlights throughout the evening: A friend who noticed a party-crasher wearing a Mike Hunt name tag, who asked me in all honesty whether he actually went to our high school. (I love her, but she hasn't changed a bit.) Chatting up my sophmore year crush, the one who busted up my best friend and me (that kind of happens when you discover your best friend making out with your crush at lunchtime), and finding myself entirely unattracted to him. Having the class clown tell me she's read my blog and it’s funny. (So sue me, I’m insecure.)

Oh, and can't forget--learning that a guy in the class below ours is now a big porn star.

I am not making that up.

But the best part of all was realizing that I am very much at peace with who I am and how my life has turned out--and enjoying spending the evening with a roomful of people who, for the most part, seem to be in the exact same place.

And also knowing, however it was presented, that I had good hair.

If you knew me in the 80s…well let’s just say that’s a very, very big deal.

-----

Update: I have since been informed that we have not one, but two male porn stars from our high school! Take that, Valley High.


38 Comments:

Blogger jen said...

ok, so i think that was simultaneously the most hilarious and poignant thing i've read in awhile....growing up, moving on, coming back, and with new insecurities and situations. oh, and stripper pole boys...

too much, sister. too much.

11/26/06, 11:10 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

I'm thrilled that it turned out to be such a great time - all in all.

I haven't had my 20th yet, but at my 15th two summers ago, one of the greatest moments was when I told a former football player - who'd been a bit of a pompous ass way back when - to stop staring at my tits. And yes, I actually said those words, verbatim. With a smile on my face.

Mmmmmm...Magic Hat. We used to collect those bottle caps with the pithy quips printed on the underside.

11/26/06, 11:56 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Dude, I know the 80's was a long time ago but those people dancing in the photos must have repeated a year or two or 47.

11/27/06, 12:06 AM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

LIIIIIIAR!!! I have seen you in person and there is no way you went to your 20th HS reunion. I remain convinced that it was your 10th and you are just embellishing.

My dad just went to his 70th LOL. Seven OH. Not too many classmates left.

11/27/06, 12:34 AM  
Blogger Andie D. said...

I had many of the same feelings when I attended my hub's 20th this summer.

It actually made me want to CONSIDER attending mine. Maybe.

11/27/06, 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Dana said...

Oh Liz, I can't stop laughing.

My husband had his 20 year this past summer. We didn't go. He's such a putz about this stuff.

I've got my ten year coming up next year and I really don't know if I want to go!

11/27/06, 2:04 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

God you're brave. I don't think I'd go to mine....not even my ten year....please don't hit me. ;)

Really Liz, I'm glad you had fun. So when can we see a pic of the 80's hair. You show me that and I'll show you a pic of how old I was that year. Thalia's age maybe....

**Ducks rocks as she leaves.**

11/27/06, 2:18 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

I've always heard that the 20 yr. is the best - this must be why.

Carrie

ps. Yeah for your good hair, I'm sure it looked fab!!

11/27/06, 2:52 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Oooh, you just made me want to go to my next reunion. I haven't been back to any for high school, and but we went to SwingDaddy's college 10-year last month. We only attended the daytime picnic, where there were lots of ankle biters wandering around, making the conversation very staccato, as we talked in between lunging after children.

11/27/06, 3:04 AM  
Blogger Mega Mom said...

OK, I want to know what Jimmy Joyce is up to. Also, I want the porn star's name. I knew quite a few guys in that class.

So glad it went well. I could see myself having the same type of experience (zit and all!)

11/27/06, 6:06 AM  
Anonymous blog_antagonist said...

Oy. My 20th is this summer. I've not kept in touch with anyone, and I've lived 900 miles from home for almost 20 years. While it would be a little fun to see what happened to everyone, I think I'll skip it. I didn't like them that much the first time around!

I know that feeling of still being a teenager. Weird how that stays with a person, eh?

11/27/06, 7:05 AM  
Anonymous blog_antagonist said...

Oy. My 20th is this summer. I've not kept in touch with anyone, and I've lived 900 miles from home for almost 20 years. While it would be a little fun to see what happened to everyone, I think I'll skip it. I didn't like them that much the first time around!

I know that feeling of still being a teenager. Weird how that stays with a person, eh?

11/27/06, 7:05 AM  
Anonymous K said...

Sigh. Makes me wish I went to high school.

And seriously, I'm still chuckling over the "girlfriend who mistakenly took her boyfriend as a stripper pole."

God. You old people really know how to whoop it up.

:)

11/27/06, 8:44 AM  
Blogger ECR said...

I wish I could muster up some of that kind of nostalgia for high school and my former classmates. All in all, I'm not too disappointed that our class was not motivated enough to plan a reunion this year.

11/27/06, 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

You rock. I could never go to a high school reunion. The whole idea sends me shivering into my own skin. I just know I'd take one step into that room and instantly be that same terrified, shy girl who pretended to be all tough and cool but inside just wanted to go hide in the bathroom and read a book until it was time to go home.

Sigh. Who am I kidding? I'm still that same girl.

11/27/06, 9:25 AM  
Blogger J said...

I went to mine last year, before I even had a blog. (THE HORROR!) It was nice to see a few folks, but mostly I didn't know people then, and that didn't change any. Strange that people were still intimidated by the old 'queen bee', and so on. I don't think I would go to another, but it was kind of fun. Got to sleep at Grandma's house, and go out with my best friend from 6th grade, so that's worth something, right?

11/27/06, 9:43 AM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

Those pics are cracking me up! Yes, everything you say about reunions is true. I've tried to tell my kids about how things will change and no one believes me. The hideously popular (for no apparent reason) will fall from grace. The smart kids who have direction and drive will do fine. What is surprising are those of us who were stuck in the middle. The middle class does rise and distinguish itself and it's a sweet, sweet time. My 20th was great for all of those reasons. My (gulp) 30th is coming up this summer and I'll have to write about it. Can I borrow those pictures?

11/27/06, 9:44 AM  
Blogger Occidental Girl said...

I like to hear reunion stories. There's so many cliches, but they are real and uniquely your own experience.

It's interesting to see people you spent time in that microcosm of high school with, and how they changed. And, how we realize there is more sameness than differences.

But really, I'm so glad you had good hair!

11/27/06, 12:52 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Glad you had a good time at your reunion! I was so scared to go to my 10 year reunion because I was 8 months pregnant and looked awful. I always dreamed of going back and looking great and making people jealous, but instead I was puffy with a giant belly.

Luckily, so were many of the other women there, so I didn't feel too bad. And it was a good time. It's amazing how quickly you can forget some of the less pleasant memories of high school after 10 or 20 years.

11/27/06, 1:37 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I just posted today about how I was longing for my good ol' high school days since I went to my niece's basketball game last night. High school was fun for me, too. Ahh, to be 17 again... Although my 10 year reunion was a dud because most of the people I wanted to see didn't show up! And I have the 20 in 3 years. Yikes! Did you wear neon to flatter your lucious hair?

11/27/06, 2:34 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

But did you land in a helicopter with Sandy Frink?

Seriously.

11/27/06, 2:43 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

If I ever attend a high school reunion (ya right, as if) the experience would probably be like Amalah's.

Glad you had a good time.

11/27/06, 3:26 PM  
Blogger Meena said...

Sounds like a good time was had. When you said "MHS fight song" - I thought - no, she did not go to my high school! I guess there are many high schools that start with "M" :-)

Your 10 yr reunion synopsis rang really true with what mine was like. Some girls were still catty, but some were actually nice now. I ran into some girl I barely knew who told me that my ex wasn't coming because I might be there. It's kind of flattering knowing someone still pines for you. :-)

11/27/06, 4:50 PM  
Blogger kim said...

I loved Romy and Michelle lol
... I didnt go to mine and I kinda regreted it
sounds like you had fun in spite of it all

11/27/06, 6:03 PM  
Blogger Carla said...

I grew up in Morman territory so there were several classmates at my 20th who had upwards of 7 children who were also grandmothers. This summer is the 30th, can't wait for those surprises. I only made it to step parent hood, always a later bloomer.Great post!

11/27/06, 6:03 PM  
Anonymous L.A. Daddy said...

Ahh, I feel your pain. Flew back to Ohio for my 20th reunion in August. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I haven't kept in touch with the folks from high school, only college, but it was great to see everyone and how they were all doing.

And it was great to know that I had more hair than most of them.

11/27/06, 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the introspection in your blog. Makes me want to read each entry twice! Brilliant...

11/27/06, 8:43 PM  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

Before I started blogging I thought there was not enough money or alcohol to make me attend a high school reunion. Now I'd do it sober and pay for a ticket just to be able to blog about it! And kudos on the hair, I bet that's more than most people could say.

11/27/06, 8:47 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

Just wanted to say I'll be thinking about you tomorrow and sending good vibes.

11/27/06, 10:41 PM  
Blogger Mombat said...

Beautifully captured. I had almost exactly the same experience at mine, minus the porn star. Instead, there was a big photo of my old boyfriend on the "R.I.P." table. (Turned out not to be true.)

11/27/06, 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Jill said...

I recently went to my 20th reunion too. Back then I was a quiet, shy geek. It was really fun to go as a published author and feel like I was finally Someone, lol.

11/27/06, 11:55 PM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

I am facing my ten year reunion. I was spared the decision to go or not to because no one is even planning one and no one else cares.

11/27/06, 11:59 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I'm so glad you had a good time. I was way too cynical at my 20th year reunion and spent the entire time wishing I could just to back to my hotel room and lie down. Then again, there were no porn star stories to liven up the event!

11/28/06, 11:20 AM  
Blogger Shelli said...

Wow, you sure brought back some memories. I too just had my 20 year reunion. Isn't it crazy how fast time moves forward? No porn stars in my class of '86 though (at least none that would admit to it). lol.
Love your blog!

11/30/06, 9:10 AM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Sounds lovely and happy and full circle-ish. I had a similarly nice time at mine a couple years ago. Can't beat it.

11/30/06, 5:07 PM  
Blogger whymommy said...

Too funny! Thanks for the awesome play-by-play - it made me feel like I was there, sipping right along with you. Whoo-hoo, a night out!

11/30/06, 7:48 PM  
Blogger happygal said...

I went to my 20th in April and I had a similar experience...pure fun (no porn stars tho)
What was really interesting is how much people have become who they are. And also, attraction. In other words, the poeple in high school that you liked back then are still fun to be around and you will still steer clear of those who, um, rubbed you the wrong way.

One highlinght for me was when this woman who was an absolute bitch to me (and many others) in high school stood up and made a public apology for her meanness. It was pure gold.

12/2/06, 12:36 AM  
Blogger MommyWithAttitude said...

I didn't go to my 10 year reunion. And a friend of mine was just asking yesterday, "Isn't your 20 year reunion coming up next year?" And I said, oh no, it couldn't be. And he said, "Well you DID graduate in 88 didn't you???" I said yes, but I'm sure I am nowhere NEAR approaching 38 years old!

12/8/06, 3:06 PM  

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