Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Girl Most Likely To...

Recently, one of my former high school classmates started a thread on Facebook about our twenty year class reunion. Technically, we graduated nineteen years ago, but they want to start planning now. (The fact that it's been almost twenty years since high school made me immediately check my reflection in the mirror for white hair, which is why I have a small bald spot now.)

I'd be willing to go to the reunion. That is, if clones were real, then I'd send my clone, as long as my clone was twenty pounds thinner, a tenured professor at an Ivy League university, and married to George Clooney's clone. I'd also be willing to go if I could arrive in a helicopter, like the class nerd did in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.

My other classmates were excited about it, suggesting ideas like going on a hay ride and roasting hot dogs over a fire (God, they're so Midwestern, but then again, I used to like those things) together, having a picnic at a park or someone else's house, or going out for drinks (I don't normally drink alcohol, but I think I would need gallons of it to tolerate an evening with the people who voted me "Most Likely to Become a Nun.").

There were parts of high school that I enjoyed. I liked my English teachers; they were partly why I majored in English in college. I liked performing in school plays, even though I usually had small roles.

But I didn't like how people made fun of me for being different. I didn't like how I stayed home from prom both junior and senior year, as well as most of the school dances, because no one asked me, and the ones I asked to go with me said no. I didn't like how one of the bullies who regularly taunted me once bullied me so badly that I cried, and then she pointed out my tears to everyone else and laughed about it. My mother, father, and sibling already made me feel bad about myself on a regular basis at home. I didn't want to have to deal with that from people at school too, but I did.

On the other hand, all of that was almost twenty years ago, and maybe they've changed for the better. But when I moved to College Town, which is only a few hours away from the small Midwestern town where I grew up, one of my former classmates contacted me on Facebook and suggested we go out for dinner. I couldn't go on the day she wanted to go, but I suggested alternate days and also said I could rearrange my schedule in the future. She said she'd let me know. That was three months ago, and I haven't heard from her since then.

My best friend in high school suggested we meet for coffee because she lives near College Town. We did, and she kept saying that she couldn't understand why we lost touch. I didn't tell her that I tried to keep in touch with her in college, but she was busy with her new boyfriend, new friends, and other college activities, and she stopped returning my phone calls and e-mails. I sent her a message suggesting that we meet for coffee again. She never answered. That was two months ago.

Another classmate tagged me in a post on Facebook, which normally wouldn't be a problem, except she also tagged another classmate that I'm not friends with on Facebook (or in real life, either). I sent her a message on FB asking her to remove my name from the tag because the problem is that other guy is Facebook friends with my mother, who still doesn't know that I'm on the site. Not only that, but my mother is convinced that I should date this guy, and I know that he is the type of person who would tell her all about my Facebook account. I didn't like him then, and I don't want to date him now. (He basically had the personality of Lurch from the Addams Family, although not as nice.) Despite my request, the classmate who tagged me ignored my message and left the post up.

That's why I'm not exactly thrilled at the prospect of going to this reunion. I'd rather go to a Trump rally and yell, "Lock HIM up!"

I didn't go to the other reunions they organized in the past. I know that at some point one or more of them will bring up some embarrassing thing I did back then, and then they'll all laugh. And then they'll say what they always said: "It's just a joke. Can't you take a joke?" as if I wasn't allowed to be offended and I was the one with the problem.

I also know that they'll ask me why I'm unmarried and childless. In the small Midwestern town that we all grew up in, people, including the majority of my classmates, married the first or second person they ever dated (i.e., their high school or college sweetheart) before they turned twenty-five and had several kids before they turned thirty. I'm one of the only people in the class who didn't do that. There's nothing wrong with that kind of life. It seems like it's a good life, and my classmates seem happy with it (at least, they seem they do, in the Facebook version of their lives). But I left my hometown because I wanted a different life.

And I do have a different life. I'm a college professor with a master's degree and a Ph.D. that I worked hard to get and that I'm proud of. I went from teaching in Chicago to a small town in Tennessee to a college town in the Midwest. That may not be the same as having a family of my own, but it's something.

If I do go, I won't tolerate any "jokes" like I did back when I was in high school. All those years in Chicago made me tougher and much less tolerant of jerks. Therefore, if any of them start up again, I'll say, "Back in high school, I never stood up to you. But now I can tell you to go to hell, and walk away. So go to hell." And then I'll walk away, and I'll never go back.

P.S. Let me know if you hear anything new about clones.

What about you? Did you go to any of your high school reunions?