It starts the moment you receive an email that your classmates are organizing another high school reunion. Your knee-jerk response is complete and utter denial: THERE’S NO WAY TEN YEARS HAVE ALREADY PASSED SINCE THE LAST REUNION. Once this little fact registers in your brain, panic sets in….and all hell breaks loose as you prepare to spend a weekend with people you probably haven’t seen since Boyz II Men were on their first tour and everyone was wearing Hammertime pants.
There are three stages to every high school reunion that follow the initial days of denial: The Preparation, The Event, and The Party Afterglow (Alas, for some, this is also known as the “Relief Stage”….because it’s finally over and they can go back to wearing their comfy stretch pants and arch support sandals).
THE PREPARATION STAGE:
The first thing you do is check out the photos from the LAST reunion to see how much you’ve changed. This is followed by a close inspection of your reflection in the mirror. HOLY CRAP, WHEN DID I PUT ON ALL OF THIS WEIGHT?? This is when the real panic sets in. You dust off that gym membership and survive on rabbit food for weeks in an earnest attempt to drop two clothes sizes before the big day. When that doesn’t work, you buy something in black that will at least make you LOOK ten pounds lighter (or prove that you’re in mourning from the loss of your youthful appearance). And then you cry in the parking lot at Dunkin’ Donuts while you scarf down two French Crullers and a Boston Kreme donut.
It’s not just the weight gain that bothers you. It’s the elephant skin around your eyes, the thinning grey hair at your temples, and those pesky age spots along your droopy jawline that disturb you the most. Like a soldier preparing for battle, you line up your defenses. Hair appointment, check. Facial, mani and pedi, check. Teeth whitening, eyebrow shaping, nose hair plucking, leg waxing….check, check, and double check. You’ve spent a small fortune on all of these things, but desperation kicks in when you notice your pasty white thighs, and you have no problem shelling out an additional $75 for a tanning booth to give your skin that natural, sun-kissed glow…..which will have faded by the time you pay your final bar tab at the reunion.
You wake up the day of the event as jittery as a prepubescent teen embarking on her first date….or a sacrificial virgin preparing to be thrown into a live volcano. The reunion could go either way.
To calm your nerves, you soak in a warm tub and wonder if it’s too early to have a cocktail. As the hour of departure draws near, you decide to be bold and wear the pink tunic instead of the black dress.
Once you arrive, you make a beeline to the bar to bolster your courage and suddenly catch a glimpse of yourself in the foyer mirror. It’s at that moment you realize that wearing the tunic was a mistake. You look like a lumpy potato wrapped in pink Saran, ready for the microwave. Better make that martini a double.
Three cocktails later, you’re on the dance floor with your friends, busting a move from the 1980’s and praying that both your knee caps and the Spandex that fits you like a sausage casing will hold up under the strain.
People are hugging and reminiscing about prom and homecoming and bonfires, all of which you were never a part of since you were incredibly awkward in high school. But none of this matters, because the martinis have sufficiently numbed you to the point that you’ve forgotten that you look like a potato. No one else notices either — — they’re too busy having fun with you, chowing down on a platter of elf-size quiches and photobombing your selfies.
Even though you were never accepted as a “cool kid” in high school, by the end of the evening you’ve become one, because at this stage in life, you’re all members of the popular clique known as the “Old Farts Club.”
The morning after the reunion, you bask in the afterglow of renewed friendships and chuckle over the barrage of tagged photos on social media as you contemplate the best way to cure your martini hangover. You’re also incredibly grateful that many of the photos have been doctored to make you look ten years younger.
Once the aspirin kicks in, you realize what a damn good time you had and how proud you are to be part of such an inspiring group of classmates. They’ve reminded you that even though you’ve aged on the outside, you’re still just as fun and youthful on the inside. And for this, you love them. You’ve gained a new tribe of friends and you can’t wait to see them again at the next reunion in ten years. Even if you still look like a potato.
This post originally appeared on Medium.
About the author: Marcia Kester Doyle is a native Floridian and a married mother of four children and has one grandchild. She is the author of the humorous blog, Menopausal Mother, where she muses on the good, the bad and the ugly side of menopausal mayhem. Give her a glass of wine and a jar of Nutella and she’ll be your best friend. Marcia is a contributing writer for Huffington Post, In The Powder Room, What The Flicka and HumorOutcasts. Her work has also appeared on Scary Mommy, BlogHer, Lost In Suburbia, The Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Midlife Boulevard, Mamapedia, BA50 and The Woven Tale Press among others. She is the author of the humorous book, “Who Stole My Spandex? Midlife Musings From A Middle-Aged MILF” and is an author contributor to four other books. Marcia is a BlogHer Voice Of The Year 2014 recipient and her blog Menopausal Mother won VoiceBoks Top Hilarious Parent Blogger 2014. She was also voted top 25 in the Circle Of Moms Contest 2013. You can also find Marcia’s blog on Facebook and Twitter.