My 20-year high-school reunion is coming up next month, and I simply can’t suppress the urge to say “Whoopdeefreakindoo!”
I keep waiting to feel bubbling up within me some desire to attend this event, but, so far, when I imagine waking up on the Sunday morning after it takes place, I have no premonition of regret about having skipped it.
See, here’s the thing: I hated high school. When adults would say, “Enjoy it! These are the best years of your life!,” I could only assume that life was really gonna suck after graduation. (I am very happy to report that each of the 20 years I’ve lived since graduating high school have been better than any of the four I spent there.)
Admittedly, a big part of why my high school experience sucked was the fact that I looked like a short, skinny, mulleted bobblehead doll. I mean, look at that picture. Sweet Jesus. Let’s just say that the ladies weren’t exactly lining up for dates. (I remember telling Wonder Woman years ago that I had been the second smallest kid in my high school until my junior year. She said she knew I must be telling her the truth about that, because I knew there was one kid smaller than me.)
To be fair, I did have a lot of close friends who were female. Developed some serious crushes on a few of them, too. Unfortunately, when you look like Farmer Ted, teenage girls don’t want to date you; they want you to be their cute, harmless-as-a-puppy-dog guy friend who can serve as an emotional tampon while they cry to you about how the jerk-off hockey player they hooked up with at that party last weekend hasn’t given them the time of day since.
But I’m not bitter.
Of course, it didn’t help that, throughout much of my high-school years, my parents were going through an ugly separation and divorce—which, at the time, I saw as a bit of a blessing, because having my father move out meant that there was one less person in the house with whom I had to argue on a daily basis. Still, that’s a pretty bleak silver lining in a fairly large, extremely dark cloud.
It also didn’t help that I almost flunked out of school on more than one occasion. (When I was 31, I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, and that diagnosis was made, in part, by report cards and teachers’ comments dating back to elementary school. Back then, they didn’t diagnose ADD; they called you lazy and said you didn’t apply yourself.)
One week before my senior year started, I enlisted in the army, with my departure set for one month after graduation. I was one of maybe three guys in my entire graduating class who, instead of going off to college, entered the military. I knew that I hated school, I knew that I would have flunked out of college, and, regardless, I just wanted to get the fuck out of Dodge.
I spent four months in Alabama for basic training and military-police school. During that short time, I grew two inches and gained 26 pounds. When I got out of the army, I went to college, made Dean’s list every semester and graduated with honors.
So, no, I don’t for a moment miss high school.
Most of the people with whom I was truly close during high school, I have remained friends with since—and before we all had kids and enormous mortgages that we couldn’t afford and lives that were completely unmanageable, we actually saw each other once in a while.
As for the more distant acquaintances—well, can’t we all just agree that Facebook eliminates the need for a high school reunion? It’s the perfect compromise. People whom you’ve forgotten about come out of the woodwork, but are kept at a safe distance. Pictures allow you to see how well or how poorly they’ve aged. Don’t really wanna reconnect with a particular person? Just click “Ignore” on that “Friend” request, my brotha. (“The user will not be notified.” Perfect!)
On the other hand, attending the reunion would mean a night out of the house without the kids, surrounded by adults—and alcohol. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll go. If nothing else, it’ll give me something to blog about.
[UPDATE: No, I didn’t go. And I don’t regret it.]