My twenty-fifth high school class reunion was last weekend.
It was the first reunion of the Ste. Genevieve High School Class of 1985 that I'd been to since our tenth. There was a fifteenth, but it was held over Thanksgiving weekend that year and I didn't go.
And the twentieth... well, for whatever reason, it just didn't happen.
I thought the twenty-fifth was going to pass without a get-together, but then earlier this summer an invitation arrived at my home. Classmates Rhonda Napier, Angie Smith, Loretta "Shorty" Miller and Julie Miller spearheaded the twenty-fifth held over our high school's homecoming weekend.
Turn out was remarkable. Our graduating class was 140 -- about 130 are still alive -- and nearly two-thirds of them showed up. Even Fabienne Roland, the foreign exchange student who graduated with our class, came from Belgium for the reunion! She had an ulterior motive though. She also visited her son who is currently an exchange student in Mississippi.
This was the second twenty-fifth reunion I've been to this year. My wife's class from Cape Girardeau Central High School -- also 1985 for those of you weak in math -- held their reunion in June.
Like my own, it was spearheaded by a group of women. This is not surprising.
Most women are just better than most men at planning events like this. I'm not being sexist, but I'm certain that if most of the guys from my class had been in charge of the reunion, we would have wound up having a kegger down by the river and the "invitations" would have consisted of a some hastily placed phone calls at the last minute.
But the ladies who organized my class reunion did not forget that basic male beverage requirement and made sure there was complimentary draft beer available for those not wishing to buy something at the bar or have soft drinks.
And actual printed invitations went out months in advance.
And we were indoors.
And they even had a sheet cake and cookies with icing in our school colors! No guy would have ever thought of that.
Since this was the second class reunion I've been to in the last four months, I consider myself something of an expert-attendee and feel that as a public service I should dispense some advice on how you can improve your own gathering.
Sound Systems Or Bands. Are they really needed? At class reunions people want to talk and mingle. Oh sure, some dancing may take place, but do you really need to pay a guy to "spin" tunes? Have someone bring in a decent portable stereo from home and buy one of those music compilations from the time period when you graduated. That's more than adequate entertainment.
Reunion Group Photos. You might as well be herding cats to get one of these taken at a reunion. I'm not sure if there is a good way to handle them. Everyone keeps talking and goofing off and essentially making a perfect photo virtually impossible. I suppose if you really want a good group photo, then you might want to have a cattle prod or a taser on hand.
Or perhaps you could arrange to have the principal or vice principal from your senior year show up to brow beat you and your fellow classmates into posing. I bet that would have done the trick if Mr. Vernon Huck and Mr. Mikel Stewart had showed up at my reunion.
Nametags. The SGHS organizers had a great idea regarding nametags. Only those people who were members of the Class of 1985 got them, not the spouses or dates. This was stroke of genius. You knew that if someone had a sticker on their chest, they were part of your class. Considering that I hadn't seen most of my classmates for at least 15 years and some not since high school, the nametags were the only way I could identify some people.
Let's be honest. Most of your classmates will have changed when you see them at a class reunion. They will definitely be older. Likely heavier or some might be considerably skinnier. They may possibly be balder or grayer. The guys -- and possibly a few of the ladies -- may have a bit of facial hair disguising how they looked in high school.
The only thing our class organizers could have done better with this aspect of our reunion would have been to use much larger nametags. Much, much larger.
I hope that for our 30th we all have sashes like contestants wear in beauty pageants with our names in 1-inch type.
That way we won't have to squint so much as we're mingling our way past the sheet cake to the complimentary keg of beer.