Friday, July 08, 2005

A Tale of Two Reunions

In the past three weeks I've experienced two reunions. One was a by-product of a wedding, the other was planned. The first was the wedding of my old college buddy Pete. Most of those people I hadn't seen in person (or in some cases, even in email) since my own wedding almost eight years ago. The other was my Twenty-Year High School Reunion. I hadn't seen any of those folks since my last reunion, ten years ago. Some I hadn't seen since graduation.

Both were enjoyable. But I found the impromptu one more satisfying.

I enjoyed high school. It was and is a small place (my graduating class had 65 people in it), so we didn't have the sort of cliques that develop in bigger schools. There were groupings, but you had to work at it if you wanted to be exclusive. There just weren't enough people to create the distance. I wasn't popular, but neither was I unpopular. I was smart, and so had something of a license to be weird. But most of my better friends were older -- they were juniors, seniors or sophomores when I was a freshman. In a way, I had more fun in the hour or so I spent with one of older friends than the 5+ hours at the reunion. I got on well enough with my classmates, but only one of them was really a close friend, and he couldn't make it. So I was left with the standard stuff, where are you, what are you doing now, etc. etc. Oh, and the typical observances of who had sagged the most, held up the best, or had actually gotten better-looking since the last reunion or graduation.

At the ten year, I had received the Most Eligible Bachelor Award. This time, I go the "Most Improved" Award. I dunno what I was to have improved from exactly (graduation? Ten years ago?), but the sense of backhanded compliment was pretty strong. Funny side story: One classmate came up to my wife and related how she and others were so happy that I had "found someone." Apparently she and some others were "worried". Trish just stared at her, and she apparently realized how awful she had sounded, made some excuse, and scurried back inside. Thing is, I'm pretty sure she was one person interested in being "someone", and hadn't exactly been Miss Popularity back in the day. Meow.

Another element getting in the way was answering the question of what I was doing. I've talked about this before. I had a hard time with that question. I'm not sure I ever answered it precisely the same way twice. I didn't want to lie, nor did I want to sound like I was bragging. So at different times I emphasized I was retired, had gotten lucky in the stock market, was a stay at home dad, was busy handling the family portfolio and taking care of the house, and so on. All of that is essentially true. Well, perhaps not the retired part. As my mom famously observed more than once, "Your daddy may have I retired, but I haven't!" I reckon most SAHD's would concur with that sentiment. We may not be working in an office or wherever 8-5, but we sure ain't retired! Anyway, the point is that dealing with that issue was still confusing and uncomfortable and detracted from my enjoying the event.

The wedding was different. For some reason, I was able to be pretty up-front with my old college buddies about events, and did not really care about their reaction. Was it because we had been closer in college, and shared more experiences than most of those who were from my high school? Was it was because I had been able to continue to be around many of them after college, and so they all knew I'd been in the job world and been a working stiff just like everyone else? Was it because I had been voted most likely to succeed in high school and felt I had to live up to that, whereas in college I was just one more bright kid amongst the bunch? Some of whom hadn't gotten a degree anyway, whereas I had, and on time too? I don’t know. They mostly acted envious, while the folks from high school seemed a bit bemused. But that might stem from my own difficulties in settling on a single narrative or take on events.

All in all, an interesting pair of events.

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