High School Reunions
Chatter from classmates.com, a message on Facebook or a phone call from a long-lost friend lets you know your high school reunion is coming up and volunteers are needed to organize this nostalgic event. Organizing a high school reunion is definitely on the top ten list of “The most unselfish things you will ever do” – along with “having a child” but there is a big difference….the rewards of parenthood increase significantly with the effort put forth – not so with organizing a high school reunion.
Someone always steps forward to organize a reunion and is usually left feeling more like a sucker than a hero. I know, I did. Do yourself a favor and do not volunteer for this thankless task ever. I promise… you will deeply regret taking time away from your family and friends to organize an event for people you haven’t kept in contact with for decades. Better to attend and enjoy the reunion with the friends you have kept in contact with and catch up with those you haven’t seen.
High school was a blast. I had fun, too much fun and should have studied a lot more than I did but I was having too good a time with my friends to stop and open a calculus book. And so I was enthusiastic about the prospect of making the reunion happen. Maybe it was because I had been living in Europe for the past decade and felt out of touch with my roots or maybe it was just nostalgia but whatever the reason, I made the serious mistake of volunteering to organize my 30th high school reunion while I was living in Switzerland.
At the time, being across the ocean didn’t seem like an insurmountable problem because of the internet. Compared to my twenty-year reunion when we relied on phone books and a yearbook, finding classmates would be a breeze with Facebook, classmates.com, and whitepages.com. I also had a classmate in the military who somehow always managed to find those few graduates that were difficult to locate. God bless him; he had his ways and he took a burden off my shoulders which I will forever appreciate.
After it was all over, I told my husband that if I ever volunteer to organize a reunion again to please shoot me. To be honest, there were a few classmates that stepped up to the plate and helped – they were truly wonderful – and there were other classmates that appreciated the thousands of hours we spent searching for classmates, making phone calls, writing letters, finding the DJ, dealing with the venue brass, answering e-mails, approving menus, planning party favors and decorations and putting down deposits, assuming personal liability, and covering the overrun costs, but many classmates didn’t appreciate the efforts. In fact, there seemed to be an inverse relationship to the amount of time a classmate helped with the reunion to the amount he or she complained. Certain people stand out in my mind for their outrageous requests or behavior:
Mr. NRA put a picture of himself on Facebook aiming a gun at the viewer and wrote some choice words about how bogus high school was. Several concerned classmates contacted me as Mr. NRA was somewhat of a loner in high school. Mr. NRA didn’t plan on attending the reunion but the police were notified anyway. A background check came back clean but the local police staked out the hotel and attended our reunion.
A’s sister e-mails me a few days after the reunion lambasting me and those that organized the reunion for not finding her sister and offering me tips on how to plan a future reunion. That we found 305 out of 325 graduates didn’t register with her. I was tempted to e-mail her back and ask if she really earned a high school diploma.
M thought the cost of the reunion was too high and asked if we could just rent a room at the Hilton and bring our own pizza and beer in. Really. I don’t think it occurred to M that hotels are in the banquet business or that the majority of the class didn’t want pizza and beer.
A spreadsheet with every classmate, address, phone, and e-mail was distributed to those that wanted to keep in touch with classmates. M e-mails me and asks if I could add a column to include the names of children. My first thought: How creepy is that? Why would anyone need the name of my daughter? But, I kept my thoughts to myself and asked him why he wanted this information. M told me he wanted to network with classmates because he was looking for investors for his business ventures. The column wasn’t added, children’s names were kept confidential, and M was advised the spreadsheet is for social contacts, not business development.
N approaches me at the reunion party and asks if there is some way I can refund the money back to J because he needs the funds even though he is attending the reunion. I ask N where she would like me to get the money from?
I am cc’d on an e-mail from A inviting a former teacher to the reunion at no cost. I e-mail A to advise her that she can’t invite people to the reunion without paying for them. She e-mails me back perplexed that the Hilton wouldn’t allow teachers to attend for free.
N e-mailed me a few days prior to the reunion and told me her husband has dietary restrictions and gave me a 2 page list of foods he can’t eat. I asked her what he wants and she suggested wild salmon, not farm raised. I told her I would call the hotel and make the request but that her husband might have to settle for farm raised salmon – after all, this is the Hilton, not the Four Seasons. She told me hubby won’t eat farm raised salmon. Memories of fourth grade and what a pain the ass N was then lead me to believe N and her husband deserve each other. I secretly enjoyed watching the husband being served farm raised salmon.