20th high school reunion. To go or not to go?
November 9, 2007 7:15 AM   Subscribe

High school was traumatic and I had no friends. My 20th reunion is coming up. Is there any reason to go?

I’m over all the trauma, no longer bitter, and totally happy with life and who I’ve become. I’m sure most of the rest have moved on as well. I wasn’t ready for the other reunions up until now. Now I’m ready but, other than a mild curiosity, I can’t think of any compelling reason to go. I’m happily married so I can’t even set the goal of scoring a divorced former cheerleader.

What the hell happens at these things? I picture a lot of people who were friends in high school sitting around in the same little cliques, hugging each other, talking about “the best years” of their lives.

Relevant: It’s local so other than getting a babysitter going won’t be a big inconvenience. Tickets are costly enough that it’ll be an expensive night to stand around talking to my wife.

I’m stressing about going because I don’t want those feelings of loneliness and rejection to resurface. I’m also stressing about not going for some reason.

Did you have a similar experience in high school (Mefites? No way!) and go to your reunion? What happened? I guess I’m mostly looking for reasons to go (or not to go) that I haven’t yet thought about.
posted by bondcliff to Society & Culture (67 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've skipped mine so far because we haven't hit a meaningful milestone yet and I know those bastards are successful (damned dead white men prep school), but I also had an ok time. It might be worth going just to see how all your bastards turned into ofay, middle-American average Joes. Don't know if you'll have a good time, but it might reduce the size of some of those demons. The best years of their lives were back then, yours are now and moving forward. You might wind up feeling bad for them.

Or just smiling politely to yourself.
posted by yerfatma at 7:19 AM on November 9, 2007

High school sucked for me too. You're a good bit more removed from it than I am, but I see no reason to go. Instead of spending the money on expensive tickets, take your wife to a nice restaurant. You'll probably be happier doing that.
posted by Autarky at 7:27 AM on November 9, 2007

If you're curious about what people are up to, join Facebook. I'm serious. Facebook was a little premature for our 10th high school reunion (I graduated in 96), but today I'm more caught up on what people are up to than if I actually had to talk to them in person at a reunion (mainly because i probably wouldn't have actually talked to certain people, still being somewhat hung up on my old high school insecurities as well.)
posted by cgg at 7:29 AM on November 9, 2007

My reunion and my SO's reunion ended up being on the same day, in different states -- both different from where we live. I was ambivalent about mine, and he really wanted to go to his. So we went to his. I sometimes pretended it was mine, since I wasn't really close to anyone at my HS anyway (except for one person who wasn't coming anyway).

Basically, once I got past my own shyness, it was interesting to meet people. If it had been at my own HS, we'd all have been from the same hometown, which might have made it even more interesting.

The gist: thinking of everyone as "new people" might help here.

Seeing how much fun he had, I kind of wish I could have gone to mine. Maybe some of those people are nice, and interesting, now. But I guess I'm viewing it as a big social event where you always know you'll have something to talk about.
posted by amtho at 7:32 AM on November 9, 2007

My husband was the unpopular geek in high school who became the successful geek in adulthood. We went to his 25th high school reunion several years back. It was actually somewhat fun and entertaining. The popular kids who victimized everyone had become ordinary overweight unsuccessful adults, for the most part.

When one former mean girl came up to say hello, he mentioned that he was surprised that she was so friendly because she had been so very unpleasant to him in high school. She looked shocked, and claimed to not remember (which I had my doubts about, but whatever).

I think that you need to decide why you want to go. If it's to exorcise some demons, you may or may not be successful. My husband went because he was genuinely curious about how everyone ended up, and reconnected with some fellow former geeks who were also now successful.

If I were to sum up the evening, it would be like this: mildly entertaining, a bit boring at times, and we wouldn't do it again.
posted by Flakypastry at 7:36 AM on November 9, 2007

I agree about facebook. My SO is your age and has reconnected via Facebook as have I.
posted by k8t at 7:37 AM on November 9, 2007

I don't plan to go to any of mine, for much the same reason. That's not part of my life I care to dredge back up - I've done what I wanted to do and I'm happy with myself. I don't place any value on re-connecting with people that I did not like and that did not like me in the first place. My advice is to save it for your college reunion, if you have one, beacuse for me at least, THOSE are the people that I actually liked and would like to catch up with. Spending money on a highschool reunion is at the bottom of my list of things I could do with that cash.

Then again, some people really seem to get a lot out of going. I don't think I would, obviously, but ymmv.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:37 AM on November 9, 2007

Me too! Same high school? I was the nerd in class. Prior to our reunion one of the organizers contacted me (she was so hot in high school!) and asked if I would be attending. I said obviously "no".

My rationale was...I haven't kept in contact with these people all these years. Why would I go through the effort now? To do that would be pretentious.

If you wanna go then go. If not, then close that door. This is a binary decision. Well, not really. I guess you could use Facebook.

But I choose to think binary.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 7:38 AM on November 9, 2007

I didn't go to my 20th. I haven't gone to any of them. But then in my case HS was pretty much the worst time of my life.

You might ask yourself this instead: Do you still have any meaningful connexions with folks from back in those days and/or did you have good friends in HS who might/will go and you'd really enjoy seeing? If so, then go and enjoy rebuilding those connexions face-to-face.

Otherwise I'd recommend just skipping it, saving yourself the stress and joining Facebook.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:39 AM on November 9, 2007

One reason to go is that it was 20 years ago. Are you the same person you were 20 years ago? It's safe to say most of the people you went to high school with aren't, either. Like amtho says, think of them as "new" people. I run into a lot of people I went to high school with (as they all move to NYC), and I think of all of them as new people, because a lot of them are completely new, and it hasn't even been 20 years. Try as best you can to leave the past out of it, and think of this as a grand party where you can meet a lot of interesting new people with whom you share common experiences.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:40 AM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

My 20th is coming up in five years and I've already determined I'm not going. I went to my 10th and found it ~ok~. Unlike you, I did have a couple friends--one of whom went with me--but HS was generally a nightmare. The reason I had an ok time was because people sometimes do become nicer as adults, and of course it was fun to see the former beautiful people whose looks had taken a nosedive. It's petty, but satisfying.

A weird thing happened, though: At least four people came out of nowhere to tell me that they wish they'd known me better, that they were sorry about not being nicer, etc. There was this imagined comraderie. It was kinda gross.

I don't think it's worth it for you to go. Because there will likely be people who will say this shit to you as well. And it's more for their benefit than yours.
posted by veronica sawyer at 7:41 AM on November 9, 2007

Geez, don't bother. I didn't go to my prom, I went to no high school reunions (but I don't live where I went to high school). What did I miss? Nothing. Spend the money on concert tickets or a nice dinner. You'll feel better and get more out of it.
posted by GuyZero at 7:42 AM on November 9, 2007

I wouldn't say HS was exactly traumatic for me, but It wasn't exactly affirming either. Also, my closest friends in high school were either a year older or a year younger than I was. Still, when my 20th reunion rolled around this summer I figured I would go. I was curious about some of the people I'd been in school with from grades 5-12, and other people I'd been friendly with.

I ended up not going though. It took a while to nail down travel plans, and by the time I did, it was more for airfair than I wanted to spend. I'd learned all I wanted about most of the people who were attending (and many who weren't) from a website set up to share updates. The other people I was curious about were MIA.

I feel no regret for missing it. Still, if I still lived in my homtown, I would have gone to check things out, and would have bailed if it was boorin or unpleasant.
posted by Good Brain at 7:42 AM on November 9, 2007

I had no friends at school either but went to my 20th reunion, I think probably to show them all that I'd actually made something of myself and had a successful career. I was not expected to do well either by my teachers or my peers when I left school at 16.

It was horrible. As soon as I saw certain faces, all the feelings of inadequacy and fear flooded back. Other people were condescending. One person actually patted me on the head (I am 4ft 11 and never grew much after the age of 11). They were all in their cliques and I spent much of the evening on my own, as I used to at school, only this time I didn't have a book to lose myself in.

I wish I hadn't gone. It was 12 years ago and I still cringe sometimes at the memory.
posted by essexjan at 7:43 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Re: Facebook. I’m on it. There are three other people from my class, none of whom I recognize
posted by bondcliff at 7:47 AM on November 9, 2007

I've skipped my 10th and 15th, was totally miserable in middle and high school, very happy now. I've stayed in touch with the people I liked, and the rest can fuck all as far as I'm concerned. The only reason I'd even consider going, if it were local, would be schadenfreude -- not very healthy, methinks.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:53 AM on November 9, 2007

I had the same situation in HS. It was awful. I went to to the tenth and twentieth reunions and felt like I was acting like I did in High School.

When the twenty fifth came I struggled with going and decided I had to be clear on my reasons for attending. I let go of the old approval seeking HS identity and went to see how various people were coping with life.

In the end I came away glad I went and glad for who I was, felt no need to fit in. I did do some comparing however: and decided that most of my classmates were obese and ugly
posted by Xurando at 7:58 AM on November 9, 2007

"I'm not so sure being in the same place is the same as being friends." - Wilbur, Charlotte's Web
posted by geekyguy at 8:07 AM on November 9, 2007 [6 favorites]

One word: No.

Long explanation: The only reason you know these people is because they grew up in the same zoning district as you. Why would you go through the trouble? You'd do better to look up the teachers you were inspired by in elementary school than try to find out what happened to your old high school classmates. Twenty years of life experience notwithstanding, are you likely have anything in common with any of them? It will be awkward for you as you watch everyone get back into their little high school groups and feel the judgmental eye of others, sizing you up to see if they aged better than you did.

Not that I'm, er, negative about high school. I just don't see why reunions are such a big deal.
posted by parilous at 8:13 AM on November 9, 2007

Best answer: I'm going to go against the grain a bit here.

High school wasn't traumatic for me, but wasn't the greatest. I had a few friends but was pretty much an outsider. I went to my 20th reunion earlier this year - my first in fifteen years - and had a fabulous time. Here's why:

(1) I was curious. Sounds like you are too. It was genuinely interesting to see what people have made of their lives.

(2) Beyond that, it was genuinely interesting to meet a relatively diverse group of people who, though they played an important part in my life, seemed rather novel. For me, it wasn't much different from going to a party with a bunch of strangers, except it was easier to chat with people than if they were total strangers, because you had the built-in icebreaker of telling each other what you've been doing for the past 20 years.

(3) If you are truly over the trauma of HS, then you should have no fear of bad memories flooding back. You're a happy, well-adjusted adult, and this is a social occasion like any other. Some people will be cool, some boring, some condescending, some might even be total assholes - and you can deal with each type just as you would if they were complete strangers.

(4) It helped put high school in perspective and added to my own self-knowledge. I think many of us who had a rough time in HS allow it to occupy a disproportionately negative place in our lives. We imagine that every classmate remembers every single embarrassing moment that scarred us. Well, some of them might, and you can ignore them. Most - the vast majority - don't, and don't really care now even if they do.
posted by googly at 8:13 AM on November 9, 2007 [4 favorites]

Spend the money on concert tickets or a nice dinner.

This is a really good idea. Use that evening to celebrate something *you* want to celebrate. Do something fun you wouldn't ordinarily have done for yourself.

Unless working a roomful of "new people" is something that's fun for you, I mean. If that's your thing, then go for it.
posted by mediareport at 8:13 AM on November 9, 2007

Not to sound too much like an a-hole, but high school for me was great, lots of friends, good times. I've had a good life since then, and still saw no reason to attend the 20th year reunion.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:14 AM on November 9, 2007

P.S. I should hasten to add that I went to a relatively small private school, so that might skew my experience somewhat. YMMV.
posted by googly at 8:14 AM on November 9, 2007

Best answer: Go. At worst it'll be, what, mildly unpleasant? It might hurt your self-esteem for a week or two?

If it ends up being a good night, it could completely erase most of your residual teenage pain. You'll remember the night fondly for years and years.

Personally, I'm all about racking up life experiences. If any once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this comes up, I take it. Every time. This night could be awkward, but it will definitely be unique. Don't pass up a chance to get more out of life, good or bad.
posted by Sfving at 8:18 AM on November 9, 2007 [8 favorites]

Similar HS experiences, saw no reason to go to my reunion, no regrets. Some of the posters above mention the idea of going as you would to any other sort of party, but there are good parties and sucky parties. Personally, I don't go to parties that I'm pretty sure will be sucky unless I have some motivation to go other than enjoying myself.

You need to figure out why you are stressing about not going. Do you have some sort of ingrained idea that you need to attend/celebrate "big number" anniversaries? Think about what would be the worst thing that would happen if you didn't go.
posted by yohko at 8:19 AM on November 9, 2007

I skipped mine but a good friend went. I had a normal amount of friends in high school but still could dredge up the old social strata identity problems if I tried hard enough and I just wasn't motivated to spend that sort of money with people I suspected wouldn't interest me for an evening. I'd also just gotten out of a long relationship and really didn't want to have to explain that to strangers.

There was a mailing list that they put EVERYONE they could find on and through that list, a few people who I vaguely knew got in touch to ask what I was up to and we've stayed at least a little bit in touch which is something I've enjoyed. I saw the photos of the event afterwards [put on the internet via a yahoo group that everyone was given the password to] and I was surprised how many people I literally could not recognize. Like five people looked exactly the same and everyone else didn't, they just looked like tan-haired suburban housewives and random dudes. It actually gave me a very crisp idea of just what the little town I went to high school in (I was bused in from another town) was like, from the outside. While I had been inside of it, I lacked perspective.

My friends who went had a good time and the general vibe I got from them is that 20 years is enough so that everyone's fully an adult but people arent aged into the point where they're in ill health and/or have suffered through a lot of really bad stuff so that if you were going to go to a reunion, the 20th was the way to go. I'd probably go to my 25th.
posted by jessamyn at 8:19 AM on November 9, 2007

Best answer: Go. If only to prove to yourself that these people no longer have any power to make you feel less wonderful than you are.

Best case - you have a good time.
Worst case - you realize those people are still doody and you go home early.
posted by 26.2 at 8:21 AM on November 9, 2007

I went to my 10 year a few years back and coined the term schadenfreuderriffic to describe it. While I was still a fat nerd, just like in high school, I was a fat nerd with a high paying job, and a pretty interesting life in a far away big city, while the people who were mean to me in high school, not so much.

I've reconnected with a lot of the people who were not mean to me in high school via Facebook recently, and it's interesting to see what they're doing with their lives now, too. (Mostly popping out babies, near as I can tell, but hey, I'm in favour of other people having babies, as long as I don't have to.)
posted by jacquilynne at 8:22 AM on November 9, 2007

I agree with joining Facebook. Any cursory curiosity that may have spurred me to attend a reunion has been eliminated, because I've found so many of my old HS classmates. I'd much rather read their profiles than have to show up somewhere and make small talk with them just to satisfy my curiosity.

My own experience in HS doesn't seem to have been as harsh as yours, but it was certainly not the most enjoyable time in my life. So to an extent, I can sympathize.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 8:24 AM on November 9, 2007

Nth'ing - I skipped mine. But took the emails that went out as opportunity to get back in touch with some of few people I did like in HS. That was nice.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 8:31 AM on November 9, 2007

I, for one, found it absolutely fascinating to see these people 20 years later. You don't get that chance very often.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:32 AM on November 9, 2007

Not completely similar situation, I had -some- friends... but they all boycotted my 10th reunion. I showed up late for it on a lark after wrestling with going/not going for weeks because of my ghosts, and when I got there I found out that all of two attendees even remembered who I was.*

Probably a waste of my time, and definitely a waste of all that worry.

(* = literally, and those two had to be reminded. For fun, the attendees went over the "award winners" in the yearbook, and when they got to "Biggest Bookworm - Male" the universal response was "who?" -- even though most of them had write-in voted me thus back in the day.)

posted by Pufferish at 8:34 AM on November 9, 2007

I haven't been to any of mine and I also wasn't popular in high school. I'm planning to go to my 20th (coming up) for one very simple reason. I have a hot young girlfriend. Something to rub in the faces of both the women and men there.
posted by vito90 at 8:34 AM on November 9, 2007

Well, I had a similar experience in elementary/middle school - I went to a small Catholic school where everyone picked on me - kids and teachers alike. A nun even tried to put me in remedial math simply because I didn't pay attention in class (mind you I was an AP student in high school).

The kids outright tortured me. I came home everyday crying, from kindergarten through 6th grade (7th grade I went to public school and my life changed for the better dramatically). My mom had died and I had no friends and my dad was too depressed to get out of bed, like, ever, and it was truly the darkest time in my life.

I was shocked when after graduating college I received an invitation to come to a reunion for that Catholic school. I also felt really torn about whether I should go or not. I spent a lot of time talking it out with one of my best friends, trying to figure out why I would even consider going. I realized that it was because I still cared what these motherfuckers thought. That I wanted to go and show off that I had become attractive, successful, and a lot less socially retarded. Basically, I wanted to go out of spite. And I realized that I probably was just imagining a fantasy reaction, that they would somehow realize what fuckers they were or feel bad or realize their wrongs or be jealous. And that this probably wouldn't happen, and as young adults are wont to do, they would all be chatting awkwardly with each other about where they went to school, what they studied, what they were doing next, blah blah blah.

I realized I had to let go of caring about making an impression on these people. First, because I was above it - I didn't need their acceptance. I wish I had realized that I *never* needed their acceptance, but kids don't think that way. Secondly, I realized that as much as I am a completely different person than I was back then, so were they. Kids do stupid shit. High school kids do. They are swayed by trying to look cool or impress their friends. Hopefully they've grown up and not remained bullies. As such, what was the point in going to try & spite these people?

I decided not to go. I wouldn't get any sort of reaction or apology out of those kids, and I felt like I needed to let myself accept that I didn't *need* them to realize their wrongs or change their opinion about me. And I didn't need to see the ones who were unsuccessful in life and feel superior to them.

And I don't regret it for a second. Instead I spent the night hanging out with my friends who never hurt me or made me feel worthless. Those are the people worth my time, not ghosts from the past.
posted by tastybrains at 8:35 AM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

Actually, I just got back from mine (on the other side of the country).

People are pretty "black and white" about going to these things. You either shudder at the thought or are intrigued to see what happened to the prom queen and her boyfriend, the high school football star.

High school wasn't much fun for me either. But that feeling probably applies to just about everyone (the people I would steer clear of in life are those who say "high school was the best years of my life." --sheesh).

I think you'll find that everyone has grown up. And it's nice to relate to them on an adult level. I have also found that all of us grew up both at a particular time and a particular place and that helps me connect with my roots just a bit more.

This time around I was able to connect with someone who lived just down the block from me. She had kept up with all the kids who grew up on our block and I got the lowdown on everyone.

I'm not sure I'd bring my wife or S.O. They could get pretty bored as you reconnected with everyone. Also, you might take a look at sites like Classmates rather than Facebook to see if you can connect with anyone from your class.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 8:39 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Fuck no! Why the hell would you want to pay those people the time of day? What are you going to get out of hearing that those same tired douchebags turned out exactly the way you expected them to? What are you going to get from telling a horde of people you despised in high school what you do for a living now?

The best part of high school is that once you graduate, it no longer matters. Some of my best friends from high school are still great friends of mine now- I keep in touch with them, and if I happen to run into somebody else I knew from then I'm polite but nothing more. I eagerly await an invitation to my first high school reunion, because I'm going to send back a simple placard that says, in elegant script, "GO FUCK YOURSELVES."
posted by baphomet at 8:42 AM on November 9, 2007

I agree, go. High school was good times for me--not amazingly awesome but not bad either. I'm looking forward to going to my 10th (graduated in 98) because I just honestly am curious to see what's up with people. I'm a different person today than I was a year ago, certainly different than 10 years go, and I secretly believe that many people are that way. Sure, there's some people I have no desire to see, some people I'd like to see, and some people I'm excited to see. No random banging of cheerleaders, but also no trenchcoat mafia either.

If, after 10 years, or 20 years, you're still in such a state (as baphomet suggests) that you simply cannot forgive or forget the absolute horrors of highschool, and that you cannot fathom "those people", then I think you wouldn't have asked this question. Also, just sayin', if your most mature response is "go fuck yourselves", then maybe there's a pretty good reason your high school experience was traumatic.
posted by TomMelee at 8:51 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had a fine time in high school but have not kept in touch with anyone. The only reason I would go is the only reason you have: mild curiosity. I've never lived in the city since graduating so mild curiosity has never trumped the effort of returning for a reunion. If I lived in the city, I am still not sure mild curiosity would get me to leave my home. I only get a few hours a day with my young son and it takes a lot to interest me in something other than playing with him. It doesn't seem like mild curiosity is motivating you much either. Try the Facebook thing first. Maybe you'll find learning more about your former classmates interesting and find yourself more interested in going. Or maybe you'll satisfy your mild curiosity and decide you would rather do something else that you really like.
posted by probablysteve at 8:55 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

High school was traumatic and I had no friends.

If they spent four years in your company and decided not to befriend you, why would you waste a perfectly useful evening and your hard-earned dollars trying to get them to change their minds? What exactly do you hope to gain by attending this event?
posted by jason's_planet at 8:55 AM on November 9, 2007

I'm in the "Don't go!" camp. For me, the best part of high school was leaving it behind - forever. YMMV, as I'm not one of those people who believes in keeping in touch, staying friends with exes, hanging out with old friends with whom I have nothing anymore in common, and so on; I'm a clean-sweep-get-rid-of-it kind of gal. I would rather enjoy my life as it is now, with the people who are in it now. Nostalgia is way, way overrated.

So, nthing the suggestion to take your wife out someplace nice instead. Go to dinner and a play or concert instead. A great dinner and nice performance are much more memorable, IMO, than a bunch of faces from your past.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:57 AM on November 9, 2007

I think that there's an enormous difference between being 10 years out of high school and 20 years out.

Data point: I graduated from HS in 1991. It wouldn't occur to me in a million years to join Facebook. I just looked -- seven people from class are there. I vaguely recognize three of the names, and actually remember one of those people. Similar results for a few classes before me. But every few years after my graduation year, the number of people on Facebook about doubles.

I skipped my 10th. I'm not really that interested -- I found high school pretty ho-hum, and my close friends didn't go to my school. I probably won't bother going to my 20th, but I may change my mind before then. (My SO is completely, utterly uninterested in any such thing, which I admit influences my motivation. If I REALLY wanted him to go, he would, but I don't know that I'll feel strongly enough.)

Meh. It'll probably be a nice enough evening in a sort of "wedding reception of a friend of a friend" kind of way.
posted by desuetude at 8:58 AM on November 9, 2007

My 10 year reunion was in 2005, and was held about a mile from my house.

I couldn't be bothered to go. The people I like in high school, I kept in touch with through the years.

Why would anyone want to spend time getting ready and money for the party and/or a sitter to hang out with people who you didn't think enough of to keep up with.

I also don't think it's worth it to go for revenge or retribution. Just take the high road and forget those piddling four years of your life.

You've grown a lot as a person (since you're on MeFi, for one thing). The people who will be attending were likely from the cool crowd and will be talking about their unremarkable lives, unremarkable families, and unremarkable jobs. Where's the fun in that?
posted by reenum at 9:06 AM on November 9, 2007

You will love this episode of This American Life. It's funny and poignant.

Jon Ronson goes to his high school reunion to try to figure out why his schoolmates — his friends! — threw him in a lake when he was sixteen. The only trouble is, no one at the reunion seems to remember it quite the way he does.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:09 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

My 20th was last year. I went to neither the 10th nor the 20th. I didn't enjoy high school and have no nostalgia for it. I am in regular contact with only one person with whom I went to school.

The way I figure it is this: if we all wanted to keep in contact, we would have. We didn't, so what the fuck do we care what we're up to these days?

I've gotten a couple of notes via Facebook from people with whom I went to school. One was from a guy who apparently is still bitter about some prank I played on him nearly 25 years ago -- but I remember neither him nor the gag. Another was from a woman with whom I was reasonably friendly, but we didn't hang out. She asked me (of course) why I wasn't at the reunion. I told her "the diplomatic answer is that I had other priorities."

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: don't bother. There are uncountable things that you could do with your time that would be more enjoyable and/or rewarding. See a movie. Fuck your wife. Hang out with real friends whose company you enjoy and always have.

A reunion with people who you don't give a shit about is like the mumps: the opportunity only comes around a couple of times in your lifetime. Decline the opportunity.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 9:14 AM on November 9, 2007

Were all the users of Mefi losers in high school? Not saying you guys are -today-, but frankly any excuse to meet people is fantastic (and what better excuse than..."yeah, she slept with him and him and him!"

I had a blast, graduated 5 years ago and always keep in touch with anyone passing through my town (which isn't the town I went to HS in).

It's awesome to catch and talk to people that you have known for a huge portion of your scarred childhood.

posted by aherdofturtles at 9:20 AM on November 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

I didn't go to mine for much the same reason and I have absolutely no regrets.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:28 AM on November 9, 2007

Were all the users of Mefi losers in high school?

I think that's really insensitive and obnoxious, aherdofturtles. The OP clearly states that he had a rough time in high school and didn't have friends there. Obviously, since that is a HUGE part of the question, those driven to answer it are mostly going to be people who had a similar experience.

I'm happy you had a blast in high school - I actually did too. But before that I had the experience of being the kid everyone picked on, and when this happens when you are a child/teenager it truly is traumatic in a way that I don't think you can ever imagine having not experienced it yourself.

I have a hard time imagining that everyone gets along with you, turtles, especially when you seem so incapable of grasping where the OP and many other people in this thread are coming from.

I don't see the point in reliving a painful past with people you don't care about and who don't care about you. If you want to "meet people", then go someplace new to meet people who don't come with baggage.
posted by tastybrains at 9:31 AM on November 9, 2007

I've never been one to be nostalgic about these things. In fact, my internship during law school was the first time I thought, "Huh. I'm going to miss being here with these people." High school, college, law school...all a big pointless waste of time.

On the upside, I met some decent people along the way, and I've kept in touch with them since then. (Or at least, I've kept updated on their whereabouts and doings.) But I didn't need to go to prom to have fun with my friends (even though I did grudgingly go), and I don't need to go to reunions to find out how the nice people are doing.

Join a social networking website, reconnect (or just lurk!), and let them all have their reunion while you have a nice night out with your wife.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:33 AM on November 9, 2007

Do go. People grow up over 20 years. You will see how you have changed, how they have changed (oh, they will have!!) and it's a good opportunity to close the loop on all past hurts.

I did this some years ago in my 15th year class reunion. I went to an all-girls school, small classes from kindergarten to final year of high school. It was lovely to see the other women, some married, some already not (like me), some still living a mile away from where they were - when we were little - others, like me, living on the other side of the country and traveling the world on business.

This is not who I was when I was in school, nor were the other girls who they became, when we were all in class together. We saw one another as adult women now, some with careers, others not - but each with new positive traits (and the old negative ones mostly forgotten).

Time erases wounds. To see just how much - go. It will not all be wine and roses (gosh, I was not the popular one at school when I was there for 13 years straight) but it's a good feeling once the reunion is all over.

posted by seawallrunner at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2007

I too had a mild curiosity about how people had turned out, and it would not have been much inconvenience to go. I think particularly if your curiosity is mild and you are over whatever bad stuff there might have been, you are in a fine position to have an interesting time.

My data point: My high school years weren't completely traumatic, but it was a bad time in my life, and I certainly wouldn't have been in a position to relive all kinds of great experiences with my old pals. That said, when it turned out I had missed my 20th, I was disappointed.

Incidentally, I have a Facebook account, and I haven't seen more than a couple of my high-school classmates there.
posted by caitlinb at 10:23 AM on November 9, 2007

So far, I've only attended my 10th reunion (our class didn't have a 15th and I was out of the country for the 20th). Anyway, I wasn't excessively popular in high school, nor was I the class nerd; I was sort of one of many invisible students who did her homework, strived for good grades, and didn't join many clubs other than academic ones. I was surprised to see who showed up at the 10th reunion - lots of people that had been total social rejects (not to be cruel, but these were people I remembered as being the butt of jokes since grade school), the popular crowd, and the in-betweens. It was not what I expected; folks who'd never acknowledged my existence in school actively chatted me up and asked what I was up to and shared their own life stories. Go ahead and attend if you're leaning that way - you'll see that it will be a matter of "catching up" with everyone and exchanging photos of kids and grandkids and soliciting free advice from classmates who are now investment bankers or attorneys. It will be more like a corporate mixer or cocktail party than a room full of people pointing fingers and saying "Eew, you were so weird in school, why are you here?"
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:37 AM on November 9, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the input, everyone.

FWIW: One of the reasons I feel like going is because finally, after 20 years, I no longer have any bad feelings about anyone. I’m not interested in schadenfreude anymore. Five years ago I would have been, but not today. I’m proud that I managed to put all the hatred and rage behind me. I guess going would be like taking that first airplane ride after getting over a fear of flying.

Still, going to my reunion seems sort of pointless when there’s nobody I really need to reunite with. I think my main fear is boredom.

This has been a helpful thread, gave me a lot to think about.

For the folks who are five, ten years out of school and still angry about the assholes, as was I, I just want to say that it feels pretty good when you get over it. It’s like taking a huge weight off your back. Only took me about eighteen years.
posted by bondcliff at 10:57 AM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't go. I didn't want to be around the people then, when I had to be. I certainly don't want to do it now I have the choice.

I'm not really interested in seeing or hearing from any of the people who would be there. I'd have kept in touch with them in the intervening yeas had that been the case.
posted by Solomon at 11:42 AM on November 9, 2007

FWIW, I feel like going to my 10 year and feeling the schadenfreude was a big step in learning not to care. If you're past that, then it doesn't really matter, I suppose.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:53 AM on November 9, 2007

I think just the fact that you're asking the question shows that you're curious enough that you might as well go. It's better to have the experience, even if it turns out to be unpleasant, than to always wonder what it would have been like.

That said, I personally would probably not go, but I don't have the same curiosity about it that you seem to.
posted by dixie flatline at 12:49 PM on November 9, 2007


I went to mine, and it was a revelation. So many of the popular kids had faded, and a rather mousy friend of mine had turned into a swan. Which was so cool to watch folks approach her-folks who would have totally overlooked her twenty years before.
posted by konolia at 12:58 PM on November 9, 2007

I'm not going to my 10th this year because of all the jerks.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:38 PM on November 9, 2007

i vote you go, and i agree with the sentiment from upthread about "having experiences." i think the worst-case scenario here isn't very bad -- seriously, are you going to get openly ridiculed by a bunch of 30-somethings? only kids are that cruel. on the other hand, it might be a really positive experience, and i'm not talking about the evil joy of seeing all the fat/bald people.
posted by radiosig at 2:41 PM on November 9, 2007

I say go, if the reunion sucks so bad take your SO to a movie and make out in the back row.
posted by SassHat at 4:08 PM on November 9, 2007

If you're curious and have the time and money, go. Personally, I can hardly imagine a more boring way to spend an evening than going to my 20th next year, but I did go to my 5th (and have skipped the 4 they've held since). But if there's anyone with whom you'd like to reconnect, this might be a great chance to do so.
posted by notashroom at 6:17 PM on November 9, 2007

(I think I've wandered into the wrong demographic.) I've attended several reunions with varying degrees of fun. Basically everyone's there to have a party and be nice to everyone else. All that HS bullshit will be mostly forgotten. Here's what basically happened at my 35-year reunion (quoting earlier post):

A weird thing happened, though: At least four people came out of nowhere to tell me that they wish they'd known me better ....

I depends on how you felt about yourself in HS. If you felt you were the weirdo (and didn't glory in your weirdness), then it's very nice to reconnect with some other nice adults with some shared memories and learn that the others didn't think you were weird at all. So yes, you can exorcise some demons at a HS reunion.

Also at the 35, I reconnected with a woman who had been our exchange student from France, who has since become a very good friend in Paris, my favorite city in the world. She, too, told me that she had fond memories of me. I simply don't remember the good times from HS, but apparently I had some.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:18 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Follow-up that nobody will ever read:

Well, I went. It was pretty much what I expected but I'm glad I went. I did spend a lot of time talking to my wife but once everyone got a bit lubricated (including myself) everyone was a bit friendlier. It was actually fun to talk to a couple of people, people I never knew too well but who were always friendly to me.

It was really good to stand around those people and for once not feel inferior and afraid. It was nice to stand proud among them and not care what they thought of me. I think that was the main reason I needed to go.


Funny things happen when jocks stop playing sports. They get fat and become accountants.

At least one ex-cheerleader was a miserable, lonely drunk. I felt bad for her.

I confessed to a forth grade crush to one girl and I think it made her feel awkward. Oh well.

I wasn't the baldest one in the room by far.

There was a lot of quick handshakes and "hey, good to see you!" type interactions. And by "good to see you" we meant "I recognize you but have absolutely nothing to say to you."

I chatted up the valedictorian and I'm not sure she remembered me. The roaming photographer took our picture. I'm gonna cherish that picture forever.

A few people seemed genuinely glad to find out I turned out ok. I pretty much exceeded everyone's expectations, including my own.

Every two minutes two woman would go "Aiiiiieeeee!!!!!!" and hug each other for the first time in years. It was like a bad SNL skit come to life.

It was really, really loud. They had a DJ. Because, you know, when a bunch of people who haven't seen each other in twenty years get together they'd much rather hear Dexi's Midnight Runners than each other.

I got the impression seeing me there was a novelty for some people. Like they never expected me to show up among the cool kids. I'm glad I surprised them.

The guys who were dickheads twenty years ago still looked like dickheads. It made me laugh.
posted by bondcliff at 7:22 PM on November 25, 2007 [4 favorites]

I read it and that rocks! Glad it turned out well for you.
posted by 26.2 at 8:14 PM on November 25, 2007

Yay, I'm glad it turned out well!
posted by jessamyn at 8:20 PM on November 25, 2007

Good job, bondcliff!
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:25 AM on December 1, 2007

I'm glad you went, too.
posted by maudlin at 3:02 PM on December 8, 2007

Just looked this up to see what I was in for (my 10th is this Saturday) and wanted to say I'm happy you went!
posted by like_neon at 5:19 AM on December 17, 2007

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