Do's and don'ts for making it through your class reunion
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Ten years have gone by. Maybe it's 15 or five, but no matter, it's now time for that bizarre ritual known as the class reunion.
Many people dread this. And it's no wonder -- willingly returning to a time when we were more pimpled and less intelligent seems crazy, especially if your school wasn't the most welcome environment.
Still, there is something to be said for heading back to school to check in with the people you grew up with. Face it, they're a part of your history, and chances are they're going through some of the same stuff.
Maybe you're still struggling to find a career path, maybe the rest of them seem to have figured it out. Maybe they're married, maybe you're not, but in general it's still a huge group of people who share a common bond.
So don't stay home and mope about how much better you looked then (because seriously, you probably didn't. I thought I was a little darling in high school until I got to my 10-year reunion, picked up my name tag and my senior picture was printed on it. Ouch.)
It's a better time than you think and you may learn a thing or two about just how much you've succeeded in your own life by looking at where you came from.
Here's a list of Do's and Don'ts as you prepare to say hello, again.
* Go. You may be tempted to sit at home, whimpering about what may have been or who you hated or what a horrible time you had in adolescence. Maybe it's because you can't bear to be reminded of those tall hairsprayed bangs or that unfortunate mullet. But suck it up. It's refreshing to stand in a roomful of people who knew you when, learning about what they're up to and feeling that maybe your life is shaping up all right as well. If nothing else, it might even be a nice ego boost.
* Bring backup. If you have some buddies from back home, get together and go. Have dinner beforehand. Talk about the good times and whatever else is going on, then head over to the reunion. There's safety in numbers.
* Talk to everyone even people you didn't like that much. Look, maybe Sarah Anderson was a total jerk, but it's still worth it to say hello because you've grown up a little and chances are she has too. Maybe she's nice now, and maybe she feels bad about the time she put chewing gum in your hair. Or stole your boyfriend.
* Flirt with the person you were too scared to talk to in high school. You'll never have the opportunity again. Well, maybe at the 20-year reunion, but he'll probably be balding by then. Muster up the courage and walk over, say hello, ask how he's been and then proceed to the bathroom where you can pat yourself on the back about how confident you've become. Remember that moment later on when you're feeling shy and scared.
* Do something nice for yourself before the party. Watch a football game. Get a manicure. Whatever it is that makes you a happy camper, do it as a reward for getting this far in your life. Plus, it always feels better to go into a roomful of people you haven't seen in years when you've just done something really fun.
* Drink too much. In this case, it's really best to be inhibited. The event is already a "Twilight Zone" without booze -- the last thing you want is to embarrass yourself by getting on the bar and singing a rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as a shout-out to the good old days, or telling your ex-best friend that you really hated her guts.
* Wear anything too fancy. This isn't prom, even if you came in a group, you're heading to a party afterward and someone is making out in the corner. You should still be sensible. Understated. A look that says "I'm so with-it and hot I don't even have to try." If you can't decide, find out where the reunion is and what your friends are wearing and base your outfit on that. Some are more formal than others, but it's never a good idea to show up in a ball gown.
* Spend your time talking to someone you talk to once a week. The key here is to talk to people you haven't seen in ages. Use your friends as touchstones, check in with them to see how the night is going, then head off to talk to the people you won't talk to again until the next reunion. Then be sure to rehash the details of the night the next day with your true friends, every second of it.
* Give out your number in a moment of nostalgia. You may be tempted to reconnect with old flames, old friends, old neighbors, and that's great. But think twice before you dole out your number. If you haven't talked to them in 10 years, are you really going to call them this week? And honestly, do you really want to? If you think yes, then go right ahead, give it out, plug numbers into your cell. If not, don't bother crowding the phone book.
* Expect people to have changed that much. It's hard to know what to expect, but really, after 10 years, everyone just looks better. More together, more professional, less angst-ridden. People have grown up, they're more capable of making small talk and being polite, but they're basically the same. Apparently at the 20-year reunion all the girls look great and all the guys look fat, old and bald. So, um, fellas, get to the gym.