“High school. A small world unto itself, combining all the warmest elements of a federal work camp with those of a Third World poultry farm.” – Dexter
My high school class is in the midst of planning one of our milestone reunions and everyone seems to be quite excited about the prospect of a weekend in the old town followed by a cruise to a foreign destination. However, I find myself sitting here looking at all these familiar faces on our class page and a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach is starting to overwhelm me.
You see, I wasn’t the cool girl in high school. I know, it’s totally hard to believe knowing what a stylish, well-adjusted, confident adult I’ve grown into. (I’ll wait while you finish laughing hysterically.) I was weird and awkward and not very cute and, while I was smart, intelligence wasn’t one of those things that was lauded in our very football-centric town – unless you were gorgeous AND smart but, holy hell, who could compete with that combo? I lettered in Quiz Bowl. I was so excited to have a jacket just like all the “cool” kids were wearing, but the day I got it, I realized that our sponsor thought it would be funny if he ordered mine about four sizes too big. It hung to my knees. I looked completely ridiculous. I wore it maybe three times. I keep it in my closet to look at when I start to sugarcoat those memories. It’s my reminder that high school was awful.
I had a handful of friends who accepted me and loved me for who I was – right down to the red rubber boots I wore all the time because I thought they were funny. And to be fair, most people just ignored me. There were the handful that picked on me (mostly with words, although there was one instance where I was shot with a bottle rocket while trying to get my locker open). I don’t know which one was worse. Being so insignificant that it renders you invisible, or having people notice you, even if it was to make fun of you. It’s the whole, “I don’t matter” vs. “Obviously I matter enough for those people to go out of their way to make me miserable, so obviously they are threatened by my awesomeness” thing.
I went into this reunion-thing gung-ho and several of my old friends have questioned my sanity. Maybe it’s because I want to show everyone that high school didn’t break me. Maybe I’m hoping for some sort of cheesy Hollywood redemption in which I enter the room and the crowd goes silent and one by one my ex-classmates start a slow clap, then some anthem plays and we all do a perfectly choreographed dance to a Fatboy Slim song. Because, honestly, that would kinda kick ass.
At any rate, I’ll be there and I’ll be me. I’ll probably say something awkward or make a joke that no one gets. My hair will be frizzy by the end of the evening thanks to the East Texas heat coupled with the North Louisiana humidity. I’ll probably spill BBQ sauce or something down the front of my dress (the dress code is all white*, of course). I may even have a panic attack or three, which will lead me to have a drink or twelve and subsequently hide under a table. But at the end of it all I’ll sleep well that night because I’ll know that all those experiences, no matter how cringe-worthy, helped to make me who I am, and because I’m drunk and that tends to make me tired.
I read once that if you ever wanted to invest in a future writer, go to your local high school and search out that awkward kid sitting in the corner trying her hardest not to be noticed and BINGO.
Maybe I should pack thank you cards to hand out at the reunion. Does Hallmark make a “Thanks for assuring me a career as a novelist” card? They totally should.
*as for the dress code...
What's the deal with the all-white parties? Did we graduate with P. Diddy and I didn't realize it?
Add to that, they’ve decided to make it a FORMAL event, so my first thought when I’m told “All white + formal” =
I went to our reunion page yesterday and discovered that my name was listed on the deceased classmates list, so my vision of showing up and dancing the night away in Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen quickly changed to this…
They have since removed my name from the “In Memoriam” list, but I suspected it was less about me actually still being alive and more because of my posts everywhere saying simply “BRAINNNSSSSS!”
They still don’t get my sense of humor.
This is going to be a disaster, isn’t it?