50th Reunion Coming Up? Don't Forget Your Name Tag

Jim Shea

October 16, 2013


Rented hall, early evening, cocktail hour:

A roomful of people, all wearing name tags, are trying to squint past the hair, and the pounds, and the wrinkling, and the years, for a spark of recognition.

Hey, didn't you used to be …

Yes, baby boomers are starting to attend their 50th high-school reunions.

Whoa, a half century since high school? How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday you couldn't find a table to sit at in the cafeteria.

That's the way the, um, maturing brain works. High school is remembered more clearly than last week. This is unfortunate because one has no control over what it being recalled. And let's be honest here, there was a whole lot of stuff that went on in high school that is just as well forgotten.

The reunion, of course, forces you to interact with people who bring up things that you had been lucky enough to repress but will now remember to the grave and probably beyond.

In terms of embarrassment, humiliation, stupidity, depression, anxiety, disappointments and really unfortunate hairdos, high school was one raging hormone fueled, nerve-wracking horror show. And so we convene at 10 year intervals to dredge it all back up.

I'm not a big on reunions. I've been to a couple over the years and have found them to be bittersweet at best.

The thing is you have retained these mental pictures of your classmates in their teens and it is jarring to suddenly see how the years have photo shopped those images. I mean, one of the highest compliments you can receive at a reunion is that you are still recognizable.

Granted, it's nice to reconnect with friends you have remained in semi-touch with over the years. It is also not unpleasant to see that the class bully turned out to be a major loser, and better still, married the girl you had a huge crush on but who cruelly shot you down in front of all her friends.

Another problem I have with reunions, which is probably an Irish thing, is I can't remember who I didn't like, and who didn't like me. This is important for the obvious reason. You don't want someone you had a personalty conflict 50 years ago to think you have let bygones be bygones.

Anyway, for everyone heading to their 50th reunion, have a great time. You all look terrific, haven't changed a bit.