It has been said (by me) that attending your high school reunion is feared by more people than heights, snakes or clowns. As a 1967 graduate of New Albany High School in southern Indiana, I have attended a lot of reunions, including my 52nd reunion last month. Our class used to have reunions at 10- then five-year intervals, and now yearly.

I fully expect our 70th reunion to be called “The 70th and Last Reunion.” You know you are about done when the program list of deceased class members exceeds those attending. This is commonly known as the Grim Reaper Horizon.

In this column I have tasked myself with providing strategies and tips for making your next reunion your best ever. My advice is directed only to the fence-sitters, the angst-ridden “shall I stay or should I go” crowd. If you still smell bad and had no friends in high school, you probably should not go. If you are skinny, have most of your hair or are super-rich, you should definitely go.

Before arriving at the venue, I recommend firing down between 1.5 to 2.5 drinks. This is known as “coming in hot.” The idea here is to be loose and free-wheeling, but not staggering. If necessary, practice.

As for dress, I recommend middle of the road, but distinctive. For example at my last reunion, I channeled country music legend George Strait — white long-sleeve shirt, fancy brown shoes my son bought me for Christmas, and Wrangler button-up blue western jeans I had specially purchased for the occasion. I looked just like a cool cowboy. The only problem was that every time I went to the bathroom it took me forever to unbutton and then re-button my fancy jeans. How does George Strait do it?

It is very important to have a wing man or woman, even if it is a parent. Otherwise you look like the nerd with no friends to be followed by those horrible reinforcing flashbacks to high school. Also, it is probably wise to prearrange, with just another friend or two, their attendance so you will have someone to sit with at a table, especially if your wingman/woman is your parent. 

Alternate table strategy #1: Stay standing.

Alternate table strategy #2: Have a couple more drinks.

Now the hard part is over. Either hang with those you have arranged to meet, and make snide remarks about your classmates, or muster up your courage, and chat it up with everybody. Obviously stay away from politics, religion and/or your IRS audit.

Most importantly, if after an hour you are not having a good time or you find your classmates maliciously laughing at you, just leave.

Overall, though, I believe you will find that the older you get, the more fun you will have. By the time you are 60, life has a way of leveling everyone. Joint replacements, kids out of the house, and job exhaustion make for super-boring conversation. Only a boor brags about his children or grandchildren’s successes.

And so you talk about high school — the teachers, the sports, the dances and the crazy things that happened. For most, for better or worse, we were thrown together for four years, and then we moved on. But those years were precisely the ones when we were just becoming who we became. It was a special time that should be valued and appreciated. 

With your classmates. 

At your reunion.

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John Hubbuch

John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday...