This past Saturday night we went to my 20th high school reunion for the Class of 1986, Canton High. It was ... interesting. I’d only been to one reunion before, my tenth, which was fine although it wasn’t really enough time to see how people had really changed.

But at this reunion I realized that most people were just not going to change that much. A few observations, aided by Melanie’s third-party point of view. First, all of the women were so skinny. And not just skinny, but almost painfully skinny. Did they all go on diets before the reunion? Did those who had gained weight not bother coming? In a related observation, Melanie noted how short everyone is. I hadn’t noticed before, but a majority of my class are below average height. Sure, there are a few 6-foot men and women, but nearly everyone is about 5-foot-7 or less. Quite a few guys were shorter than me. I wonder if there’s something in the water in Canton. Now I know why I’ve never understand people referring to me as short.

Above all, Melanie noted that no one looked old. When you think of 20th reunion, you think of a bunch of people nearly 40 years old. When you’re a teen that seems ancient, but Melanie—who’s several years younger than me—everyone looked to be in her peer group. There were a few gray hairs scattered about but not a whole lot.

Dressed up, low-key, fitting in

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  • “I hope for our 25th they pull out the stops a little and do a real dinner at some place nice.”

    That was my biggest lament when I attended my 10th in June.  Not the beer issue, but that we had no dinner.  Surely we could have gotten dinner instead of a buffet for $20.

  • Did they all go on diets before the reunion? Did those who had gained weight not bother coming?

    Yes, and, probably, yes. I didn’t go to my 10th specifically because I’d gained loads of weight from health problems. But I made a pact a couple of years later with a friend of mine (after our sisters, who were in the same class two years behind us, had a great time at their 10th) that we were going to go to our 20th no matter what, so . . . I’ve got three years!

    It consisted of 45 minutes of photos of which I was in exactly zero because they showed the same 40 or 50 people of the various popular crowds.

    This issue, in the yearbook my junior year, for some reason made me take over as a rather dictatorial yearbook editor my senior year – I made sure there were pics of the auto & shop people, the FFA people, the art people, the “just hangin’ out” people, “quiet studious kids” and everybody else. Even three years ago – just before I got married and moved to Canada, and a full 13 years after that yearbook came out, when I was in my hometown people would still come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed that yearbook! Anything that’s just a compendium of “the popular kids” is so limited!

    I think the biggest thing about going to a high school reunion is to just go and see that all these people – whatever their “reputation” or “position” during those halcyon (or horrible) days – are just people, and when they were teenagers, just like you they had the same fears (acne, judgment of others, rejection) and similar hopes for a bright future, only you didn’t know it. Whether they were an underachieving shop guy who went on to become a pillar of the community or a proverbial popular girl who hit the skids. In fact, the one thing I observed when I became somewhat “popular” my senior year, without trying to, was that those who were trying to maintain popularity were often quite fearful of losing it. If you’re lower on the totem pole, that’s not something you have to deal with – nor are you generally aware of. I’m actually somewhat looking forward to going back as a grown-up and seeing these other people, as persons, stripped of that high-school rigamarole (though what can be accomplished in a few hours on a weekend night is not that much, I’m sure).

    I can tell you, from arranging catered events, that anything decent (i.e., sit-down chicken/steak choice with maybe a couple of “adult beverage” tickets and a dessert buffet) in red states is going to cost at least $50, someplace like Massachussetts more like $75 (or more) per person.

  • Yeah, I’d think NYC (and Boston proper) you’d be starting at *at least* twice that.

    My parents and I pulled off a nice brunch buffet (with champagne punch and champagne toast, plus “unlimited” white wine, mineral water, and colas) for 100 for my wedding in 2004 in Dallas, and I think it came in at $2,500, but that included renting our (very nice) church hall, and my parents buying almost all the ingredients and beverages from Sam’s, and some friends contributing their “specialties” gratis. Also, the cake, which was excellent, was only $400 – that was a find.

  • Dropping the idea of an open bar, I don’t think it would cost $75 per head for a nice dinner. When we were planning our wedding last year I came to the conclusion that there were two levels of catered service. You could get a nice $20 to $50 per head dinner and then it jumps up to $100 and up.

  • Imagine graduating from high school with 78 people, half of whom you went to school with since kindergarten.  And all on Cape Cod too.  I skipped my 10th, I will skip my 20th or 25th, and I may go to the 50th, just maybe.  I didn’t like the people I went to school with.

  • I attended my 10-year, 20-year, and 30-year high school reunions. I was a kid from a podunk town bused into a well-to-do suburb for a co-ed Catholic high school. I wouldn’t have made the “A” list anyway. But none of that mattered at the reunions, and they got better each time. I’ve even told certain members of the “popular crowd” of their perpetual duty to comprise the organizing committee for these events.

    It’s why I recommend the experience for people whose high school years were not the best of their lives. It gives closure to four years of unreasonable expectations.

    Other than that, the women all looked great and the guys were all carrying beer guts, especially the jocks. Go figure.