I'm an aspiring writer, but overall, I am an American who seeks a better America.
High school reunions mean different things to all of us. For some of us, they offer an opportunity for us to connect with former classmates that we haven't seen in a long time and to reminisce on precious memories from our adolescence. For others of us, they are gloating arenas to avoid at all costs inasmuch as our teenage years may not have been the best years of our life and we never really had any loyal friends in high school that we would want to see again.
At the end of the day, high school reunions are a moneymaking machine for businesses that organize them and do all the catering to make them seem inviting. Whether or not you should go to one of them is your decision. I cannot tell you one way or the other what you should do. However, I can tell you that this same tradition may become obsolete in the not-too-distant future. Therefore, if you really want to attend one of your high school reunions, don't wait until they're not around anymore.
1. High School Reunions Are Not My Scene
So many years ago, there was this one co-worker of mine named Cathy who was well into her eighties. She was one of those hard-working individuals who simply refused to retire inasmuch as she liked what she did for a living and she did not want to be home all the time with nothing to do. Cathy loved going to her high school reunions despite that the number of her former classmates at them shrank each and every time that she attended one of them. I've even read stories about women in their nineties or even over a 100 years old who attend their high school reunion only to find perhaps 9 or 10 people there inasmuch as all of their other former classmates have died off.
On the other hand, there was this one supervisor of mine in her late fifties who absolutely detested high school reunions. She was a likeable person, and she knew how to get on everyone's best side. However, for one reason or another, she never went to any of her high school reunions. Her name was Chloa.
Chloa was married and had kids, but she had no desire to reconnect with any of her former classmates from high school and let them know where she was in life. I even once heard her talk about not wanting to go to any of her high school reunions after this one woman who worked with us told her that she had recently attended her fortieth-year high school reunion.
Chloa and I talked about this one television advertisement that showed a man in his forties smiling after receiving an invitation to his twenty-fifth-year high school reunion and then there would be this sweet, sappy scene wherein his wife was complimenting his looks after he had died his gray hair back to its natural color. The advertisement made it obvious that she was his high-school sweetheart.
Chloa and I both agreed that it was a stupid television advertisement. Chloa was able to see that I was no fan of high school reunions myself. She told me that she did not like them, because she had no desire to reconnect with people that she never really liked in the first place. I got the distinct impression that perhaps her teenage years were not the greatest and that she wanted to leave them in the past. I felt that she was doing the right thing, because nobody should go somewhere where they know they are not going to enjoy themselves. I have never been to any of my high school reunions, and I do not regret it for even one second.
Now, before anyone jumps the gun about what kind of teenage kid I was way back when, first of all, let me clear the air about something. I may not have been in one of the upper-level cliques when I was in high school, but I was not a social outcast and I did have a well-sized circle of friends; and I was active in various after-school activities. I once even cracked a joke with a friend of mine named Wayne back in my senior year of high school that I was 21 years old and that I had liked high school so much that I had decided to repeat the same four years all over again after I had graduated and turned eighteen. Wayne laughed and said, "You're crazy. I'd never do that." Of course, he and my other classmates knew that I was kidding them.
During my senior year of high school, there was this one girl named Kristi whom I had first met in the fourth grade. She and I got along very well, but she could get somewhat nosy at times. For example, in our English class, she would ask me what grade I had gotten on a test, and I would turn around and tell her that I had gotten an F with a very confident and proud look in my eye. Her eyes would get wide and she'd ask, "YOU GOT AN F?!" Then I'd hold my test paper up in my right hand and show the A that I had gotten on it. She'd then turn her head sideways and say, "You got me this time." Somehow I always knew how to catch her off guard whenever she would try to find out what grade I had gotten on my tests.
During my senior year of high school, there was this one couple named Andy and Vicki who were very much in love with each other. They were my friends. Vicki ended up getting pregnant with Andy's baby. I felt bad for both of them. I don't remember what happened with them, because I lost touch with them after I graduated from high school. I did run into Vicki at a local restaurant once when I was 19 years old, but I did not ask her about what happened with her pregnancy and the likes inasmuch as I did not feel that it was my place to do so.
High school was full of good times and fond memories for me, and it had its fair share of bad times. However, overall, I considered my teenage years to be happy ones. When I was in high school, I didn't have the fancy car and the drop-dead beautiful girlfriend as some other boys did; but I wasn't a main target for bullying as some kids were and most people there respected me. At the same time, I realized that there were people at my school who were so mentally unhinged that I had to do everything I could to avoid them as much as possible; and I'm not only referring to students but certain teachers as well.
There was a young man in my senior English class whose arm got slashed while he was trying to break up a fight. His name was Stanley, and he was 18 years old. Some 14-year-old boy had pulled a knife on him and assaulted him. There was another young man in that same English class who stopped attending it after he had attempted suicide, because his girlfriend was treating him like dirt. I do not remember his name, but I remember his face quite clearly.
There was this one girl with whom I was friends all throughout middle school and my freshman year of high school. Her name was Renee. In our sophomore year of high school, she turned really cold on me and was even derisive with me at times. I tried very hard to win back her friendship; but now when I look back at my teenage years, I realize that she was not really worth the time of day in that she had taken such a disappointing attitude with me. I saw her face on the Internet on this one website that described who was attending our high school reunion, and I was even gladder than before that I had decided not to go to it inasmuch as I realized that I would never have to see her again.
Regardless of where each of us fell on the totem pole of popularity and charisma during our formative years, we all had our own problems and we did our best to deal with them. I can proudly attest that I made some very close friends throughout those years. There was even this one girl named Lisa whom I was close to as a friend during my entire four years of high schools, but we never dated or fell in love with each other. We confided personal things in each other, however.
I never disliked my teenage years. I felt that they could have been more fulfilling than they were, but a great number of us probably feel that more could have happened in our teenage years than what did happen. Movies about high-school life usually present romantic images to us of teenagers going to parties, meeting the love of their life and getting accepted into an ivy-league university of their choice. However, the movies usually do not depict reality. It's all Hollywood.
The reason that I have never gone to any high school reunion is because I was a much different person back in high school from what I am now, and somehow I feel that my former classmates would be expecting me to be a certain way if I ever were to see them again at a high school reunion. I am not condemning them for doing so in that event, because, as a teenager, I had expected myself to become a certain way by the time I was an adult in my twenties and beyond and I turned out to be a much different person from what I had anticipated back then.
Anyone who tells you that someone who refuses to go to a high school reunion is a loser has to be stuck-up and full of himself, because there are many reasons that people don't go to high school reunions that have nothing to do with their charisma or lack thereof. Perhaps their wife is significantly younger than them, and they don't want their former classmates making snide remarks at them or at their wife. Such individuals may have tragedies in their past or other emotional baggage that they don't want to bring with them to such a social gathering with former classmates of theirs.
You have to figure that whoever came up with the idea that anyone who refuses to go to their high school reunions is a loser must be some prom king with an ego the size of Jupiter. He probably peaked in life when he scored that touchdown on his high-school football team and everyone admired him for it as the star quarterback of his class, and he had a whole harem of girls whose hearts he crushed whenever he felt like it. Also, it could be that perhaps this same buffoon is the reason that people don't want to go to their high school reunion in that there is always one of their kind in every graduating class.
High school reunions are not mandatory. Thank Heaven. You don't have to go to any of them, unless you absolutely want to attend them. It's as simple as that.
I have seen reality shows on television about high school reunions, and what I don't particularly like about them is that they tend to encourage immature behavior among adults no matter how old they are. Also, old wounds get easily opened up at these events.
If you're a girl who became pregnant at 14 or 15 years old, and the boy who got you pregnant turned into a first-class jerk once he found out that you were carrying his child, you may not want to see him again at a high school reunion after all these years. Moreover, if you've gotten married, your husband may not want to be anywhere near him where he might feel inclined to ask them to step outside. Of course, I also discourage anyone from acting out in violence against anyone with whom they're still angry at those events.
Nevertheless, high school reunions can and do get ugly and even violent sometimes. All you have to do is look at the news on television, and periodically a story will surface about a fight, a riot, or even a murder occurring at a high school reunion as shown in the video below.
A Shooting Erupts At A High School Class Reunion In Detroit
Okay. I get it. The incident above involved snipers who were not even invited to the high school reunion. However, there was a Mohammad Darabi who threatened his former classmates with a possible shooting at their high school reunion in Tennessee. The world that we live in is much different from what it was back in 1959.
Now, getting on a little friendlier note, one time when the above-aforementioned co-worker of mine, Cathy, and I were talking about high school reunions, I cited the lyrics of this one Dionne Warwick song and I said, "A fool will lose tomorrow reaching back for yesterday." We both had a good laugh at that moment, but Cathy insisted that she found it well worthwhile to attend a high school reunion. If you don't know which song I am referring to, here is the song in the video below.
The Song Titled "I'll Never Love This Way Again" By Dionne Warwick
I once looked up information on a website about a high school reunion that my graduating class would be having, and the major problem that I had was that nobody whom I really liked was going to attend that same reunion. There was a whole host of former classmates of mine whose names I was looking for on the list of attendees, and none of their names were on it. However, the people whom I couldn't care less about if I ever saw again all appeared on that same list. Therefore, the incentive and the desire for me to attend it simply weren't there.
There was this one woman named Donna whom I had known since I was a newborn baby and she had attended that same high school reunion. I have been out of contact with her for a while, and I would like to have seen her. However, I would have preferred to have met up with her in a more private setting than that.
I remember speaking with Donna on the telephone while I was living in Los Angeles, California. I told her that I probably would not be attending our upcoming high school reunion, because I was living on the opposite side of the country from where my high school was.
Donna was a popular girl in high school, but there was this one clique of girls who didn't like her and did everything to torment her. I asked her if she was going to attend our upcoming high school reunion, and I reminded her that I realized that she probably didn't wish to see any of these girls. She turned around and told me that she had intended to attend the high school reunion and that she wasn't going to let these girls ruin her evening at it. I then told her that she was taking a major risk in being in these girls' presence, because she used to avoid going to the beach in our community so that she would not have to run into them.
I have nothing against high school reunions, but I can understand why they are losing popularity among the Millennial Generation and Generation Z. These social gatherings are so overrated; and if someone feels out of place at one of them, then they should not torture themselves by attending one of them. From what I've heard about them from different sources, these gatherings are usually fashion shows where people boast and posture about themselves.
When you go to a party or any gathering, you only want to have a good time and socialize. You don't want to be on trial and feel as though everyone is grilling you for personal information. It brings to mind that one movie titled Lifeguard wherein Sam Elliott played the role of a 32-year-old lifeguard, and there is a scene in the movie where he attends his 15-year high school reunion. Before he goes to the reunion, he believes that he is going to have fun. However, after he arrives to it, he becomes uncomfortable after his former classmates begin throwing all sorts of intrusive questions at him about what he has or has failed to do with his life and his future.
2. Adolescence Was A More Positive Experience In The 1950s And The 1960s Than It Was In Subsequent Decades
Nowadays if you want to find out what is going on in a former classmate's life, you can easily do so merely by pulling up their social media accounts and reading whatever they have typed there. That is, you can find out personal information about them without giving them an opportunity to pry into your personal business. Therefore, it only stands to reason that people from younger generations are going to feel less inclined to attend their high school reunions than people from older generations will. It is good that baby zoomers, millennials and even baby busters (Generation X) have this option, because their teenage years were more challenging than those of the older generations.
Teenagers have changed drastically since the 1950s. There are now less incentives for younger people to attend their high school reunions. Ask anyone who graduated from high school in the 1950s or earlier, and they will tell you that teenage kids respected one another back when they were in high school. Back then you didn't have all the drugs, the fights, the bullying, the peer pressure, and the unwanted teenage pregnancies that you have now.
In the 1950s and in earlier decades, a 14-year-old girl never got any pressure from her peers to become sexually active and risk becoming pregnant. By the time that I entered high school, teenage sex was everywhere. The hypocrisy of it all was that teenage kids received peer pressure to have their first time as young as they could; but whenever a girl became pregnant and someone found out about it, all the school gossips would zero in on her and make her life miserable.
I've heard that the baby boomers who attended high school in the 1960s didn't confront any more peer pressures or other unpleasantries than the teenagers of the 1950s and the 1940s did. Now, I know what some of you are going to say. What about the drugs, the communes, the violent demonstrations, the free love, and all the other depravities that the 1960s brought us? The counterculture didn't really become noticeable to the American people until 1966. Also, according to a filmmaker named David Hoffman, eighty percent of the baby boomers who were teenagers in the 1960s didn't participate in the counterculture. Most teenagers in the 1960s were not hippies or flower children.
If you ever got the opportunity to see the movie titled Carrie that starred Cissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in 1976, you will come to realize that being a teenager in the 1970s was an entirely different experience from being one in the preceding decades; and I don't mean so in a positive light. The high-school environment became more stratified by then among the student body than one could even fathom.
Drug abuse and other crimes were everywhere in high schools throughout our nation in the 1970s. The 1980s and the 1990s were not much better, if not worse. I remember when I was 13 years old and my school principal first spoke to my class that was entering into high school, he warned us all that drugs were not that hard to find at his school. I remember when I was a sophomore there, and someone stole my combination padlock while I was getting dressed in the boys' locker room at the end of gym class. That same year I witnessed a male student get into a violent fight with one of the school administrators. I didn't live in the ghetto, but I still had to be streetwise in dealing with the kinds of situations that I did at my high school.
As our nation approached the 21st century, stories about school shootings began to surface in the press and the media after the Columbine High School shooting. The 1950s and the preceding decades were good times for teenage kids, but, by the 21st century, it was apparent that Americans were never going to see those days ever again. Many of us here were not even born yet in the 1950s; but merely by watching a rerun of Father Knows Best or Leave It To Beaver, we're able to see that the teenage way of life was much more stable and promising back in those days than it is nowadays.
Unless you're from the Silent Generation, high school reunions simply don't produce as many fond memories for adults as they used to do so ages ago. The dramatic increase in social problems among teenagers through the decades has corroded the popularity of high school reunions.
Absenteeism at high school reunions appears to be commonplace among many millennials. A woman from that same generation provides her reasons for not going to her ten-year high school reunion in her video below.
Kayleigh Carpenter Explains Why She Decided Not To Attend Her 10-Year High School Reunion
If you don't have the house with the white picket fence, the perfect marriage, the 2.2 kids, the dream job and the exciting life, you really don't feel like listening to anyone you didn't like in high school boasting and posturing about their fairytale-like life. Therefore, I get what Ms. Carpenter is conveying in her video above.
What comes to mind in watching the video above is a scene in this one movie titled Entry Level wherein D. B. Sweeney plays the role of this 38-year-old man who is struggling to find a good job and somewhere during the film, he complains that he doesn't know what he is going to tell his former classmates at his upcoming 20-year high school reunion after they find out that he has no budding career, no marriage, no kids and nothing to show for his life. My response to him would be for him simply not to attend his 20-year high school reunion and put himself through that torture, and his problem is solved.
Not too long ago I even came across information on the Internet about a slasher film that had been released about a 10-year high school reunion that turns into a nightmare. I don't know if it was Stephen King, John Carpenter or someone else who produced this same film. However, whoever produced this same film was probably angry with all of his former classmates for treating him like a social outcast all throughout his teenage years.
If someone had a difficult time in high school like Ms. Carpenter did from the video above, I can understand why she wouldn't want to go to a high school reunion where she'll likely encounter every stuck-up snob and each moronic prom king who sees the world as a black-and-white picture divided between winners and losers. The Romanov dynasty tried that system of society in Russia back in the early 1900s and before then, and all they got in the end was a deadly Bolshevik Revolution and a murdered royal family.
It's like what this one man said in an episode of the reality series called Duck Dynasty after his brother received an invitation to a high school reunion. That is, he said, "If I haven't contacted you in 20 years since graduation, I'd have no reason to want to see you now."
Another YouTuber named Tyrone Magnus admitted that he didn't attend his 10-year high school reunion. He and his girlfriend were discussing his decision on whether they should attend his 20-year high school reunion. You can watch their video below.
Tyrone Magnus And His Girlfriend Discuss High School Reunions
In Mr. Magnus's particular situation, it is fully understandable why he did not wish to attend his 10-year high school reunion. At the time, he was at a very low point in his life. His mother had recently died. He was homeless. He was penniless. He was in poor shape. He had no girlfriend. He had nothing. He did not wish to subject himself to the kind of embarrassment and humiliation he would have confronted if he had attended that same event.
What I found so interesting about Mr. Magnus's video above is that he accompanied his girlfriend to her high school reunion. Now, I could see the fun in doing something like that, because then nobody would know you and they would have no reason to grill you for personal information or pry into your business. They would only want to be sociable with you and engage in friendly conversation with you.
In his video above, Mr. Magnus was quite vocal about his opinion that high school reunions were fashion shows where many people flaunted off their life's accomplishments needlessly. He even came across this one man at his girlfriend's high school reunion who could not stop bragging about himself at the event. There was some soap opera drama that also unfolded at the high school reunion. Much to his benefit, he was simply able to stand on the sideline and have a good laugh at it and at the man who boasted about himself, because none of it was connected to his adolescence or his personal life.
On the other hand, Mr. Magnus admitted that he might not have found any of these above-described incidents to be funny if they had happened at one of his own high school reunions and he was caught in the middle of it. It's one thing to find out about other people's dirty laundry in a room full of individuals you've never met at someone else's high school reunion. It's quite another thing to have to take that bumpy ride down memory lane yourself at your own high school reunion.
Nevertheless, despite what any stuck-up snob or moronic prom king may believe about people who don't attend their high school reunions, Mr. Magnus had every right to be a no-show at his 10-year high school reunion. He was not a social outcast in high school, but tragedy befell him and made it nearly impossible for him to attend his 10-year high school reunion. People who believe that anyone who does not attend a high school reunion is a loser need to get out of their elitist bubble and start living in the real world. Then again, I guess that old habits die hard among some people who believe themselves to be on top of everyone else.
I find it hilarious that nowadays there are even online businesses that you can hire to send someone in your place to a high school reunion who will pretend to be you and find out information about your former classmates for you. You can watch such a true scenario in the video below.
A Handsome Lookalike Pretended To Be A 29-Year-Old Classmate At A High School Reunion
The lookalike in the video above got caught. Fortunately, when the real former classmate entered on the scene, his former classmates were agreeable with him about what he had done and told him that he didn't need to go to such lengths to achieve his goal.
Once not too long after I had moved to New York City, I was eating at a restaurant with two of my former classmates and we got on the subject of whether or not there was going to be a 5-year high school reunion for our graduating class. One of them told me that he had no interest in attending it inasmuch as he felt that most of the boys in our graduating class were jerks. The other one told me that he had no interest in attending it either inasmuch as he was still trying to get his Bachelor's Degree. Because I was living far away from my hometown at the time, I told them that it really wasn't convenient for me to attend it.
Anyone who has ever dreaded the idea of going to a high school reunion probably doesn't like the lyrics of the song titled "No Such Thing" by John Mayer, unless, that is, they are a loyal John Mayer fan. In that song, he sings about how he cannot wait until his 10-year high school reunion. Yuck! If you've never heard the song before, you can listen to it below.
The Song Titled "No Such Thing" By John Mayer
I usually stop listening to the song above only a few seconds into it. John Mayer is simply not my cup of tea, but I know that he has a loyal fan base. Therefore, I won't bash him.
3. My Final Thoughts Regarding This Topic
I am not criticizing anyone who sees attending a high school reunion as reliving their past and reminiscing on memorable times during their teenage years. That is what the purpose of high school reunions should be. For some people, high school reunions make them feel like teenagers again. For others, they are rude reminders that they are not getting any younger.
Once when I was watching this one movie whose name I cannot remember, what got to me about its ending was that a group of high school students were looking over their yearbook and recent photographs of themselves. One of the teenagers gave a narration near the end of the movie where he said that someday those pictures were going to look old. It did give me kind of an eerie feeling, hearing him say something like that, because he was right. When you first get your last yearbook ever in high school, you never think about the pictures in it, especially the ones of you, someday looking old.
I am not mindless that high school reunions provide certain people with a way of never letting go of those formative years. Perhaps if I were someone who really enjoyed attending my high school reunions, I could acquire that same school of thought. In that sense, I should not be critical of high school reunions in that they bring people to a place to where they can never really go back. Unfortunately, the tradition of high school reunions has taken on a life of its own in recent decades, and attending them is not as attractive for younger generation as it is for older generations.
I find myself becoming amused every time I read a story on the Internet or in the newspaper about a little old lady in her nineties or over 100 years old attending her high school reunion and sharing her teenage memories with her former classmates at a restaurant table that can house everyone from her graduating class that may still be alive. It's also interesting to find out what teenage life was like before the first rock-and-roll song was ever heard on the radio or the first movie in color was ever released to the box office.
Times are changing, and the ways that people reconnect with former classmates and past acquaintances in their life are changing too. A close friend of my mother whose name was Patricia attended each and every one of her high school reunions from the very first one. She graduated from an all-girl school, and she and her former classmates always looked forward to seeing one another at every high school reunion of theirs. Unfortunately, Patricia died a couple of years ago from kidney failure. May she rest in peace.
My mother has only been to one of her high school reunions so far. My father has rambled on to me about how important high school reunions are, even though he has never attended any of his. My mother once told me that a former female classmate of his attempted to reconnect with him on Facebook, but he didn't respond back to her inasmuch as he wanted to be with a younger crowd and think of himself as being as young as them. I believe that my sister has been to each and every one of hers, but don't hold me to it.
I am yet to go to one of my high school reunions. Maybe I'll go to my 65-year high school reunion when it rolls around, and I'll see who is still alive in my graduating class. LOL!
Someday in the not-so-distant future, high school reunions will become obsolete. I won't miss them. They will become relics exhibited in a museum in the form of a photographic display showing numerous American high school reunions from all the different decades. Youngsters will likely see them in a museum and be glad that they never had to go to any of those, and they will appreciate the fact that they got spared the dread of being stigmatized for not attending them. Then, on the other hand, there may be those who will be curious to know what they would have been like if they had been alive when they were still a major part of American pop culture. Time can only tell.
A Poll For All Americans Who Have Received An Invitation To A High School Reunion At One Time Or Another
A Poll For Americans Who Have Concerns About High School Reunions
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jason B Truth
Jason B Truth (author) from United States of America on February 25, 2021:
@MG Singh emge Thank you. I realize that I'm going to get a lot of different opinions about this article above here of mine, but . . . that's why I have a comments section.
MG Singh emge from Singapore on February 25, 2021:
Times change but physical meetings can lend a spark sometimes. Nice article.