Skipping My High School Reunion

Do you do high school reunions?

Last night was my 20 year reunion, but given that I'm here in Los Angeles, and I did not go to high school in this fair city, clearly I chose not to attend.

I first RSVP'd yes, but that changed to no because I couldn't figure out what the purpose of a reunion was. Reliving high school memories? Finding out if the prom queen got fat? Showing off how fly I am now and rolling up with a "How Ya Like Me Now?" attitude? None of that appealed to me.

Twenty years is a long time. I'm not the same person I was 20 years ago, and I'm sure most of the people I went to school with aren't either. I'd love to see a few folks but I'm friends with most of them on Facebook. It doesn't make up for an in-person hello, but still, you know what I mean.

As far as everybody else, I just didn't feel like plunking down the big ducats and rearranging my schedule to hang with strangers. A $500 trip to spend an evening reliving years I'd rather forget and saying, "Oh yeah! I remember you!"? Um, no thanks. I'd rather put that money in my Future Depeche Mode Concert Ticket fund.

I first found out about the reunion on Facebook when someone sent me a link to its event page. Then one of the organizers sent me a message, which said...
"How did you get by me in high school? You are crazy pretty!!!! Oh well I am married now!!!!"
Thanks for the belated compliment. I think.

Nice to know I look better now than I did back then. However, cynical me wanted to reply that I "got by" him in high school because it was the late 1980's and I wasn't Caucasian, skinny or blond. My clothes weren't from the cool stores. And I was a weird nerd who liked Depeche Mode, house music and was a member of Amnesty International.

This is not to say I didn't have friends. I did have a few, but once school got out in June, I didn't see them till school started back up in the fall. Also, most of the people I considered my closest friends at that age didn't go to my high school and lived all around the country.

But OK, just for the sake of it, let's reminisce about high school...

Almost all the kids of color were tracked into regular, basic or remedial classes. Only two of us -myself and two other girls, one black, one Indian - were in any honors or AP classes.

Back then I didn't know enough about anti-Semitism to know that my awesome Jewish classmate was being made fun of and treated like crap because she was Jewish. Now I cringe when I rememeber certain things that were said to and about her, and how some of the other girls behaved towards her. Oh, and one guy who was sort of popular HID his Jewish background. I found out like two years ago that he was Jewish.

Sometimes there were insane fights and everyone would yell, "Fight! Fight!" and run towards the kids scrapping on the ground. Gangs and wanna-be gang members were problems. Girls would fight and try to rip off people's earrings. I remember this one huge-azz girl who frequently intimidated people and took their lunch money. She once jacked someone up against a wall and the person was so afraid, he pissed on himself.

I stopped riding the school bus because some people on it would get a little tipsy on the way to school and then would slur out my name. Lizzie turned into "Lisschie" as in, "Lisschie, c'mon over here gurl. Come talk to me."

During my junior year, I spent almost every lunchtime alone in the school library studying my chemistry notes and wearing some freakin' PENNY LOAFERS my mom had bought me. I also got chunky in my junior year because I stopped ballet dancing.

Oddly enough, that same year I ended up as a cheerleader, even though I was fat, didn't go to parties, never went on a single date, didn't have any money and couldn't do a cartwheel, a back flip or the splits. Go figure.

I didn't attend my junior prom. The only person who expressed any interest wanted me to guarantee that I'd have sex in the shower at the hotel afterwards. Since I wouldn't agree, he didn't ask me.

I went into my senior year as an awkward, unhappy 16 year-old. A guidance counselor suggested that I take auto-shop instead of physics because being an auto mechanic might be a good career option for me.

That year my AP English teacher was a horrible fat jerk that every other kid seemed to love. The height of misery in his class was reading Siddartha. No offense to you Herman Hesse fans, but that book was a yawn fest! I could barely get past the first chapter and yet we were supposed to discuss it in class every day like it was the literary bombdizzle.

My gawd, those were some of the most boring, lacking any critical thinking discussions I've ever heard! The fat jerk spent most of his time waxing poetic about his philosophy in life and the kids he liked got patted on the head for adding their pithy two cents to the mix. The nice thing was I never got called on. Somehow, I still got an A on the test even though I only skimmed the book and read the Cliffs Notes...probably because that teacher sucked.

Yes, he sucked so much he told me I was horrible writer and he'd be shocked if I got into college - and if I did, I probably wouldn't graduate because I didn't have the writing skills to handle college-level work. He even told me he was only giving me an A on the senior thesis I'd written comparing and contrasting the themes of Toni Morrison novels because he didn't want to hurt my GPA.

I bet he'd never even read a Toni Morrison novel. He wouldn't have known a copy of The Bluest Eye or Song of Solomon if he'd been slapped in the face with one.

Other memories... the guy who was my senior year football prom king was shot in the head a couple years after we graduated. He was a good guy. It broke a lot of people's hearts.

Aaand with that, I'm finished reminiscing.

No, high school wasn't the best time of my life and I don't want to go back to it. However, I hope everyone I went to school with is happy and healthy. I hope they had a good time at the reunion. I just think living in the past, especially when that past isn't that great, isn't for me.


SweetThang said…
I don't blame you for not attending your high school reunion. I never went to my high school reunion and don't think I ever will. There were only a few people I was cool with and I still talk to those people on facebook. The rest of them thought they were too good to socialize with me because I wasn't the popular girl. So don't waste $500 in travel cost to have an evening of phoniness (sp).
Jameil said…
Geez. That was pretty depressing. Siddartha? Yuck. Hated it as well. My 10-year is coming up this year. I kind of don't want to go b/c I've seen these people on fb and I don't think I'll get too much more out of face to face if we haven't kept in touch. There are just a few people I want to see. Since I'll be in NC, though, I'll probably go just to be nosy. Lol.
nick said…
I'm with you. I never went to any reunions because I loathed the school and loathed many of the pupils, particularly since I was bullied a lot for being an oddball. I was only too pleased to leave school, move on and put all the frustrations of my schooldays behind me.
Anonymous said…
I think I've already written about how much I hated high school, so why would I want to go back? I only mention this because I too was just notified of a reunion. Sorry, kids, most of whom mean nothing to me now, but I've moved on.
Shanda said…
My 20 year reunion is next year, and what you wrote is how I feel. What sucks is that I just moved back near my hometown (from 1100 miles away) due to a job relocation. Facebook has reconnected me to high school friends, as it has with acquaintances, and even to people who wouldn't have pissed on me if I was on fire back in high school (getting THOSE friend requests was interesting...). No, I'm not going. I didn't go to the 10th, I'm not going to this one.
Anonymous said…
i enjoyed high school but missed 10th and 20th. facebook is enough of a connection.
Liz Dwyer said…
Sweet Thang,
I wonder how the whole tradition of high school reunions began, especially back in the day when folks didn't move around as much as they do now. I used to always want my parents to go to theirs - now I don't blame them for skipping out.

I'm all for nosiness but high school was awful. The worst thing is that there are all these wack things going on around you and it can feel very disempowering, like you don't have any agency to change your circumstances. I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who thinks Siddartha needs to be put out to pasture - come to think of it, I think I met a guy named Siddartha when I was in college. He was clearly the son of hippies.

I can imagine if you're bullied it has to be hard to smile in the face of folks who treated you so maliciously. I'm all for forgiveness, but I prefer to forgive after justice has been served.

They're holding out hope that you'll bless them with your good looks!

Oh yes, the friend request thing when you barely knew them and haven't spoken in eons is weird. It's like, hello, we're not friends!

Maybe we'll both get it together for the 25th reunion? ;)
Enigma said…
Went to my 20th this year. Went to support a friend who thought she "bossed" me into going. That ended supporting that friend like that EVER again. I. Hated. It. Will never. Ever. Do. It. Again. Did I mention NEVER. LOL. I will save my money and go to the dang spa. LOL
Liz Dwyer said…
YES! A spa visit sounds much more worthwhile to me.

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