Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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Drezner's iron laws of high school reunions

Your humble blogger attended his twentieth -- yes, I said twentieth -- high school reunion over the Thanksgiving break. Using some of the fancy-pants Ph.D.-level training I've picked up since my high school days, here are some tips for future reunion attendees that might be helpful:

1) Physically and emotionally, the men will have changed much more than the women. This is mostly physiology -- boys mature later, and are the ones who go bald. Plus, if they're very, very lucky, the men will also meet someone who can dress them better than when they were in high school.

2) If you have children, you will save yourself and everyone else a lot of time if you laminate some picture(s) of your offspring and staple them to your forehead.

3) That person you had a crush on in tenth grade? They're still going to look good.

4) Someone will be out of the closet -- with a 50% chance that that person was in your homecoming court (note to Generation Y: this will be reversed for all y'all -- someone who came out in high school will be in a heterosexual marriage, with two kids and a house in Schenectady).

5) WARNING: you will drink more at these functions than you probably should.

6) There will always be at least one woman who has given birth to many children in recent years but look like they could do a guest-hosting stint on E!'s Wild On series.

7) At any point during the reunion, you will observe a large number of women congregating near the bathroom, whispering to each other and giggling every five seconds.

8) Someone's going to bring their high school yearbook.

9) The food will leave something to be desired.

10) Unless he or she attended your high school, under no circumstances should you subject your spouse to this function. [Against the Geneva Conventions?--ed. Only if you think boring someone to death is a form of torture.]

As a public servive, readers are hereby requested to suggest their own covering laws.

UPDATE: James Joyner weighs in: "Women, much more than men, still define themselves by who they were in high school. Possible exceptions include men who were star athletes or otherwise peaked as teenagers."

Hmmm... I wonder if this applies to math team captains.....

posted by Dan on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM


You mention not bringing a spouse....well, I've never gone to any of my own high school reunions (and there have been many opportunities now), but I attended my wife's 25th. She went to high school over 1000 miles from me and I never knew anyone in the room as a teenager.

Yet, I had a fairly good time.

As for the smaller party with the close circle of friends and the big family picnic -- those were genuine snoozers.

posted by: Rodger on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM [permalink]

Having been to a 30th.....

Half of the cheerleaders are still hot, half are showing their age (in my day all cheerleaders were female).

A male having a full head of dark hair makes everyone suspicious.

The number of divorces is mounting fast.

You will learn about the deaths of some of your classmates.

The girl you had a crush on in study hall may still makes your head spin.

Your dear wife will watch you like a hawk, just like she did at the prom.

And at the 30th, it is now pictures of grandchildren.

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM [permalink]

I went to my wife's 20th (or 25th). The first people we saw was my ex-boss and her husband. I worked for her for over a year. I spent hours walking along the canal with her (exercise). We still do lunch once or twice a year. We invented her and her husband to have dinner at our place. I ran into her husband (after I was no longer working for her) at random on a plane-trip from Washington DC.

But I had never know she was my wife's classmate.

I never knew my wife was one of only 3 (out of 400, which might explain the lack of recognition) students who graduated with high honors.

There was dancing and plenty of interesting conversation, including items about past peccadillos (I got to sit next to a a girl who had played footsie with my wife's boyfriend way back when).

Worth it.

posted by: jens on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM [permalink]

Also, don't be surprised at how much conversation you strike up with a person or two whom you barely spoke to during all of high school.

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM [permalink]

My husband went to his 20th last year with his best friend's wife, since the best friend was in the class after theirs and I was in no class at that school at all. The best friend (whom I've known for almost half our lives now) and I got stuck with five sleeping kids, a couple of bottles of wine, and Sideways. My husband and his date videotaped everyone, including people neither of them remembered, and called us from the event about as drunk as you can be and still dial numbers. A good time was had by all!

posted by: Jamie on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM [permalink]

Years ago I went to my 10th. It was a pretty good party until I discovered that by far the most attractive woman there was married with two kids, and to a minister at that. For some reason that was an incredible downer. Also disconcerting was the number of high school musicians with whom I seemed to have little in common in a setting with no instruments or sheet music.

But Alan Henderson's observation is true, especially if like me you went to a large high school.

posted by: Zathras on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM [permalink]

....until I discovered that by far the most attractive woman there was married with two kids, and to a minister at that. For some reason that was an incredible downer.

I know that reason. Some dreams die hard. ;-)

posted by: rosignol on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM [permalink]

This is probably even more universal. My 5 year college reunion was this spring, and everything but the numbers of kids was as you describe.

posted by: ptm on 11.29.06 at 08:48 AM [permalink]

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