Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Observations from My 20-Year High School Reunion

I attended my 20-year high school reunion last weekend and it was in a word, interesting.  First off I was surprised by how many of you actually read this blog.  The consensus was that most people are fans but would never dare “like” my posts or even leave a comment for fear that others will deem them an “asshole by association”.  Which is something I sincerely need to work on.  As you probably know I could give a rat’s ass what other people think of me.  But I do care when my wife is embarrassed by what other people think of me.  And she’s far too important to ever take her feelings for granted.  You know that song by “The Script” where he sings, “…the best part of me was always you”?  That couldn’t be more true of me and my wife (seriously).  Therefore moving forward I’m going to make a concerted effort at self-correcting.  I now realize that on occasion the alter-ego I’ve created on this blog hasn’t just crossed the line, he's stomped all over and raced past it.  Don’t worry – I’ll be just as brash and opinionated as ever, I’m just going to work on being more sensitive to the feelings of other people (even fat people).  Which is probably long overdue considering the other theme of the night was that people tended to keep their distance from me, especially as the alcohol consumption elevated, for fear they might become fodder for the Quinsey Blog.  If I alienate myself to the point where I’ve lost the human connection, then the whole point of this thing has been lost.  Enough with the emotional crap, on to the observations: 

1)      Old people rule: I’m fairly certain that our 18-year old selves could not have kept up with our 38-year old selves.  A 3 hour pre-party, followed by countless rounds of shots and chasers during the event, culminated with a late night trip to the bar lasting until 4:00 am.  Ridiculous.  VHS grads might not be the most accomplished group out there, or even the brightest (present company included), but make no mistake we can drink (although the next day recovery might be a bit rougher now than it was 20 years ago).

2)      A moment of enlightenment: I spent so much time back in the day trying (unsuccessfully) to hook up with all the girls in high school that I took for granted things like their personalities, wit, and senses of humor.  Now that the hormone blinders have been removed and the paradigm has shifted to purely friendship, I’ve come to appreciate what great people most of the ladies I went to high school with truly are.  And on the flip side most of the guys are no longer horny scumbags (I’m so buying a gun when my daughter starts high school).

3)      I couldn’t help myself: I intentionally didn’t wear by nametag at the reunion.  Call it an experiment in sociology.  I really got a kick out of watching other people’s conversations where one of the participants awkwardly strained to get a glimpse of the other person’s name tag without being caught.  With me they couldn’t cheat.  Either they remembered me or they didn’t.  It was time to get real, and most people did.  One dude even said, “Um, can you help me out here?”  I laughed and said I was somebody’s spouse.

4)      The plight of the no-show: If you were one of the many class of 92’ers who didn’t attend the reunion (the turnout was actually quite disappointing) rest assured there was plenty of shit talked about you.  You’d think that 20 years of water under the bridge would eliminate all gossip.  Nope.

5)      Facebook’s all good and fine but: There’s just no substitute for interacting in the flesh.  It’s like viewing a picture of somebody’s life but not getting the essence.  Plus you can’t give somebody a hug on Facebook.  Do yourself a favor and get your ass to the next reunion. 

6)      Surprise, surprise: I was actually shocked at how generally good-looking everyone turned out.  Nobody weighed 300 pounds, nobody had a Lohan leather-face, and nobody had any plastic surgeries gone wrong.  Which led me to just one logical conclusion… all the hideous-looking people stayed home (for obvious reasons). 

7)      Expansion: My only gripe about reunions is that you only get to see the people who were in your graduating class, which is a very narrow piece of the pie.  I had tons of friends in neighboring classes (many of whom I liked better than the people in my own class) I haven’t seen in 20 years, and that’s a bummer.  Maybe we could expand our next reunion to include 91’ers and 93’ers as well?  Maybe I’ll just start crashing other class’s reunions.  I’ll be the drunk guy by the bar. 

8)      Getting old is a bitch: Interacting with my classmates, watching people fall back into their familiar roles, it was almost as though no time had passed at all.  Which made me think of the quote, “Inside of every old person is a young person saying, what the f*ck happened?”  I don’t know about the rest of you but I still feel 18 on the inside, regardless of the gray hair and wrinkles on the outside.  Father time is a bastard indeed.

9)      This might be the nostalgia talking but: Even though I now have my own life in Orange County with a new circle of friends and a new support system, I could totally see myself hanging out with my high school peeps.  I actually wish some of them (not all) were my neighbors.  Just to be clear in order to make this happen you’d have to move near me.  You know what they say about East County – it’s a nice place to be FROM.     

10)   Final thought: At the end of the day I would have to conclude that our parents did a pretty good job.  Among us are doctors, professors, lawyers, executives, writers, directors, small business owners, and many other productive members of society.  Not bad for a bunch of kids from East County who used to drink beer and smoke pot in the park on a regular basis.  It just goes to show it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

God speed, Norsemen.  See you all in 10 more years.

1 comment:

shawna K said...

Hey John! So glad you posted about the reunion. I saw you briefly and in all seriousness, when I left on Saturday, I thought, "Aw crap ... I didn't get a chance to go back and talk to John." What I wanted to say was that I read your blog and (usually) love it, that I appreciate your honesty in your posts, and I wanted to ask about your sister! I hope she's doing well. As far as remembering you? Definitely don't need a nametag. I can't remember when we met ... was it Fuerte? But your eyes are very big and blue and distinct, so you could change a lot, but I'd still recognize you!

Anyways ... I find it interesting that you heard people talking smack about people who weren't there. Oddly, I didn't hear any of that. I was half expecting it because that seemed to be what high school was all about, but I truly didn't hear anything like that. Maybe my friends are just nicer than yours. ;) Seriously though, I found everyone to be SO much nicer and more real and more sincere than they were not only in high school, but also at the 10-year. The 10-year reunion was brutal.

And yes, Facebook IS great, but interacting in person was so much better. I think Facebook has ruined reunions in general. If you're going to the reunion just to find out who does what and how many kids someone has, it is much easier to just look on facebook. But hanging out was so much better! Just as you were surprised at how many people read your blog, I was surprised at how many people read my facebook posts and looked at pictures of my kids. I always have a nervous little laugh when I realize that people actually do look at these things. I post them mainly for me (what did you call it in your other reunion post? An "over-poster?" Yeah ... I know that's me!), but I also post them for out of town family and friends to see the kids. Not too many people comment besides grandma and the people I interact with on a daily basis, so I was a little surprised at some of the stuff people knew about me from Facebook.

I was not surprised that everyone looked good, though. Or that everyone drank for hours nonstop. This is a group of (former) Valhalla students you're talking about here. You either look good and party or you don't bother! ;)

It truly was great catching up with people in person and in many cases picking up right where we left off. I'm kind of mad at myself for not making the extra effort to keep in contact with many of my old friends. We went different directions and our timing of life decisions (marriage, kids, etc.) wasn't the same, which made life complicated to hang out on any consistent basis, so I understand why it happened. I'm just a tad bummed that it did.

As far as expansion goes, I am right there with you. A huge portion of my high school friends graduated in 90 and 91 and I think attending one of their reunions would be a blast. But then, I do live in East County (probably the most embarrassing thing I admitted when asked at the reunion, haha), so sometimes just going to Hooley's or the grocery store can be a high school reunion in and of itself. And of course, there's always Facebook.

See you in 10, John Quinsey.