Deconstructing the class reunion

Opinion: Columns

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By Mary Kay O'Grady


'The horror! The horror!" (Heart of Darkness) is my first thought when I find out my high school class is having another reunion.

This year it's 55 years and starts at 5:30. If they keep these up, we'll eventually be having luncheons and then breakfasts. God knows we like to get up early and avoid rush-hour traffic. And we'll need smaller rooms.

The second thought is, "How do I look?" I can probably lose 5 pounds — or not — but the saggy arms and the wrinkles aren't going anywhere.

A class reunion can be an expensive proposition if you really want to "represent." You may want some sessions with a therapist to see if you really want to go. You are not the person you were in high school — or even worse, maybe you are. I've noticed that at every reunion — 10, 15, 25, 40, 50 — people sat with the same people they hung out with in high school. The cliques survived Medicare!

Back to the cost: Besides the therapist, you'll need a couple of months of Jenny Craig and a personal trainer. There's probably not time for a facelift unless the organizers got the invitations out months in advance. You can maybe squeeze in an eyelift and botox. Then there's the new outfit, hair color and styling, Spanx, manicure, pedicure — and that's just the men. Bada boom.

Organizers of class reunions put a lot of time into keeping up with people from high school. A few people work really hard to plan these things and take them very seriously. Why? If high school was that much fun, did we go to the same school?

By the way, I didn't feel the same way about my grade school's 50-year reunion. If you went to a Catholic school in the days when nuns could terrorize with a rustle of their rosary, you have stories and laughs to last a lifetime.

Chit chat at reunions tends to be standard — children, grandchildren, marriage, divorce, who died, who went to jail. (I'm a South-sider.)

But the important questions are not usually spoken. Who's the richest and exactly how rich? How did so-and-so (stay so beautiful) (get so old) (get so drunk)? Is this guy really coming on to me after all these years with his wife right across the room?

I skipped my 50-year reunion from the University of Illinois. By the time I got organized, all the hotel rooms were filled. I consider my years there among the best of my life. I had little money and wasn't a beauty, but I soaked up everything from football to foreign films to formals where Dave Brubeck played. I made some wonderful oddball friends: Lorna, Lynda, Clara, Mary, Charlotte, Bradley (who committed suicide because he was gay). Does it make sense that I treasure them even though we didn't keep in touch?

I decided to skip the high school reunion. My granddaughter was in a CAST musical that night, which was a wild card. Besides, several high school classmates "Liked" Paula Deen on Facebook that week.

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Agng Disgracefully from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2013 5:04 PM

Thanks, Tina and Doug.

Doug Deuchler from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2013 8:12 AM

This is a wonderful piece. You really nailed it.

Tina Levy  

Posted: July 19th, 2013 3:06 PM

I fancy myself as clever with words. Now I know better. Mary Kay, you are funny. (and you probably mean it too)

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