Tuesday, June 24, 2014

'Tis Reunion Season

I haven't been to one since my one-and-only (the 30th in 1994), but 'tis the season. Reunion planners (bless their hearts), who work long and hard at it, realize summer is probably the best time to catch alumni with some time off and/or the need to scurry back to the old home place for family obligations.

Of course, at this point, anytime would be good for the class of 1960. So few of us are working we are now called "The Silent Generation". Nobody asked me, of course, but I'm more vocal than ever.

Why did I wait till the 30th to join in the festivities? Probably because I hated high school and dreaded a resurgence of that feeling that you want to run away or throw up. But A) my dad was not well, B) I had a great husband and son and successful career in my chosen field and C) no more braces.

I agonized over what to wear, as will you if you are going to a reunion. I ended up with a white linen suit encrusted with black beading and "Dynasty" shoulders (it was the dynasty of "Dynasty"). I made the mistake many of us do; I wore the suit for the first time that night and found the pencil skirt restricting, the jacket hot, and the whole thing wrinkled. I thought I looked good going into the hotel though, and that's what counted.

Tip to all reunion planners: we were given name tags at check-in with our high school yearbook photo attached. This was a good idea in a class of 550 and less humiliating than you might think. The women were all recognizable and for the most part looked smashing. Those that were gorgeous had kept their looks, those who just needed to grow into themselves had done so with great results, and those few who might have been lost causes had fixed what needed fixing and/or lost what needed losing. Because they'd come the farthest, they looked the best.

The men, on the other hand, at almost 50, were beginning to lose it— from hair to waistlines. Without a name tag I would not have recognized Mr X. Since I was chest height to him, I saw the name tag first, recognized that face and blurted out, "I had such a crush on you!" There was no way he could see what I was thinking, Yikes! Look what happened to you...

I left my lovely husband back home for this one. Why? Not because I wouldn't want to show him off (still looking good). Not because I was afraid he would find out nobody remembered me (not true as it turned out), but because I was sure he would be bored silly. In order to "arm" myself I brought a polaroid camera (1994 remember?) and played an early version of "street photographer". The camera was a crutch; I actually took few pictures, but it was good to carry.

What did I learn?
> Time changes everything. There were no butterflies, and I kept down dinner.
> People have short memories. A couple of times I heard: "Michelle! I remember you and your red hair." My hair didn't "turn red" until I was 40.
> We have short memories. I was reminded I used to wash my face religiously twice a day in school with some gook the doctor prescribed for my roaring case of acne. Like the acne itself, I had forgotten about that.

What started all this was reading Diane Keaton's new book, "Let's Just Say it Wasn't Pretty". This is not a compendium of Diane's fashion and beauty tips. Far from it. At 192 pages, triple spaced, it hardly qualifies as a collection of essays, let alone a book. But she does touch on what time has meant for some of her favorite dreamboat celebrities. They're still good looking, just in a different way. Men have always been able to get away with aging and most have done it successfully without the unfortunate intervention of Dr. Plastique (you know who you are, Arnold, Sly and Mickey). When plastic surgery goes wrong on a man it's just as wrong as on a woman.


I only knew the mature Gary Cooper and the middle aged John Wayne. I had no idea what they looked like as young blades. The discovery was awesome but didn't make them less handsome later.

The Coop
The Duke

If you go to your reunion— and you should— road-test your outfit, bring a companion (or a camera) and be grateful that Time Marches On— and you are lucky to be marching with it.


  1. I went to my reunion. The cheerleaders were still snooty, the nice girls were nicer, and the nerds were successful. My husband had been the class president, so very little attention given to me. Sigh. Just like in high school!

  2. Awesome that you married someone in your high school class... and are still married!

  3. What a good -- and honest! -- column. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. It's always nice to know when I've struck a chord. Thanks for your comment.