A guide to high school class reunions 2

Earlier this summer, I attended my 40th high school class reunion. I usually don’t go for nostalgia but I saw this is as perhaps my last chance to see some of my old friends, to reminisce about days long gone, and maybe get my $10 back from that bastard who sold me a bag of oregano my sophomore year.

My class has a reunion every 10 years, and I’ve been to all of them. The 10-year was a drag. One decade out of high school and your classmates (and — let’s be honest — you, too) mistakenly think the people you graduated with actually give a shit about what you’ve been up to for the past decade. Accordingly, everyone is trying to impress everyone else with how good they look, how much money they make, how much weight they haven’t gained, etc. In short, the 10-year reunion was far too much like high school itself to be much fun. The upside: This was 1982 and at that time, many of my classmates were apparently sending about half their salary to Bolivia; so, although the reunion itself was boring, there was no way I was going to fall asleep.

Compared to the 10, the 20-year reunion was a ball. People had chilled out a lot; without the self-imposed pressure to impress a load of classmates they didn’t really like to begin with, they were able to relax and have a good time. Also, 20 years out of high school, the girls who were hot in high school were still moderately attractive, so this would have been a great opportunity to fulfill some old fantasies. Too bad I no longer had my VW van. Also too bad I took my wife. Not great, either, that she’ll probably read this.

Reunion 30 was a one-way ticket to Suck City. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a poster (and not a small poster, either) of all our classmates who had died. I’ve always said that nothing sets the tone for a righteous bash like a list of people who are – or would have been – exactly your age had they not been dead. Additionally, none of the names I would have liked to see on that list were actually there.

Following the yin-yang sort of pattern established by the three previous reunions, 40 turned out to be a surprising amount of fun. If people had chilled by their 20-year reunion, they were absolutely frostbitten by 40. With a few exceptions, there was no pretense, no guile. People seemed honestly happy to still be alive and reasonably healthy. Plus, by that age a fair number of my cohort had retired, and that has to do wonders for your attitude.

Three of my classmates stand out in my memory of this reunion. I dubbed them the Grand-Cougar, the Ladies’ Man 2.0, and the Talibaptist.

Grand-Cougar: Hey, good to see you! Sorry none of your four marriages worked out. I wonder if your Marlboro-and-Maker’s Mark diet had anything to do with that. Seriously — if beef jerky could talk, it would sound like you. And no, I don’t want to come back to your room and “see pictures of your grandkids.” You should have caught me at the 10-year.

Ladies’ Man 2.0: The phrase “Oh, how the mighty have fallen” might have been coined for this guy. Handsome and athletic in high school, he now looks like Chris Farley’s stunt double. And, bro, as much as I’d love to hear more about the beating you took in the stock market, I have an appointment to pierce my eardrums with a dessert fork.

Talibaptist: You vaguely remember this guy, and seem to recall that you don’t like him. Talk to him for three seconds and you remember why. Buddy, here’s a tip: Your contention that I’m going to hell because I haven’t accepted Jesus is pretty funny; your “joke” about atheistic Austin isn’t. And telling it 30 minutes later, even louder and even drunker, doesn’t make it any funnier. Jesus may have turned water into wine, but I don’t recall any Biblical mention of Jack Daniel’s.

My wife is going to her high school band reunion this weekend (not sure which one but I know it’s a number much lower than 40) and I’m really excited for her. I hope she sees some old friends, and perhaps make some new ones.

Most of all, though, I hope she stays out of any VW vans.

This post originally appeared at manpacks.com Photo courtesy manpacks.


  1. You nailed it, man! My tidbit: Petey, our top jock, got into a fight in the parking lot at our 10th… AND 20th… AND 30th. That’s why I went to #40. He didn’t show…nobody left to punch…

  2. Only went to one reunion – my 40th. And enjoyed it. Seems like everyone had one thing that they were proud of – a career, a grandchild, a retirement, a specific period of sobriety – so we had something to talk about. Don’t feel like I ever need to go to another one, though. Loved your take on it.

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