Tuesday, June 14, 2011

someone get me a golf visor...

I survived my high school reunion. Actually, I had fun.
But there are some qualifiers to this.
1. It was an All Class reunion, which my highly self-congratulatory high school does every year.
2. My friend Dan, who flew back from New York for this, swore up and down that he would not leave my side the entire time.
3. I had the most fun at the after party at the Philosopher's Club. which technically doesn't count as the actual event.
My high school, founded in 1855, was an all boys school until the Class of 1993 and their filthy vaginas. So this reunion was, to put it mildly, a sausagefest. Also, half of the attendees has been to the All Class Golf Tournament all day long, so they were both already drunk and 60% of the 400 people there were wearing frat boy visors, windbreakers, khaki shorts and flip flops.
I was, as ever, overdressed. But it cost me $75 to attend this thing. I was wearing a goddamn dress.
I arrived to the courtyard on campus to find it totally redone with an infinity pool/fountain thing and free wifi for all of the students and their iPads (true story.) The courtyard was packed with 40-year old guys, in the center there was a HUGE open bar and off to one side was the oyster bar. Everyone was drinking Scotch and we had steaks for dinner.
Every party my high school throws in like the Ultimate Man Party. They might as well had strippers and buckets of ice to pee in.

Dan and John were my only grown-up friends attending this soiree, and I wasn't even friends with them in high school. I wasn't friends with anyone in high school. So you can imagine my surprise when the slightly scary baseball guy from my class came bounding up, telling me he reads me in SFGate. He lifted his drink in the air, pointed to me and announced, "This girl is fuckin' hilarious, bro."
So at this point, I was feeling like I would get out of this All Class Reunion alive. We all went into the cafeteria (known as The Commons) and I sat at the Class of 1996 table. On one side was me and all of the guys, Dan to my left, John to my right. On the other side were...girls.
I don't know why this is, but when I was 16, the boys were terrifying and the girls were much nicer. Now that I'm 33, the guys are terrific and the girls scare the fucking shit out of me.
But as I discussed with my mother and Melissa before arriving, I would not revert to my back-up mode, silently sitting there hating everyone. I would engage them, I would charm them, I would make them like me even if it killed me.
"So Trixie! (names have been changed)" I smiled across the table, "What are you up to?"
"Oh...I'm a (boring job.) For a (boring place.) In the...(looking away to someone else) Oh hi! How're youuuuu..."
I glued that smile to my face and kept trying. Finally one of them who appeared to be normal started telling me about her works and I managed to have an adult conversation with a female classmate.
Oh, oh. And the slightly terrifying one? The first (and nearly only) thing she said AT me was, "Oh, Beth Spotswood is here to. Well, look at us. We all look the same!"
I think she meant it as, none of us are old and bald or something.
Here's the thing. I am far too vain to post a picture of me in 1996 up here. But trust me when I tell you, I do not look the same.
Anyway, we sat down to our steaks and I had wonderful and fun conversations with all of the guys in my class who showed up. The bar (there was another bar in The Commons) was closed for dinner, and peppered in with the speeches (which was basically a roast of inside jokes I didn't get), they kept saying, "The bar will open up in 15 minutes. 10 more minutes until the bar is open. Alright gentlemen, just 4 minutes and 23 seconds until we open the bar again."
After dinner, obviously, everyone bum rushed the bar. I was engrossed in a conversation with a classmate whose brother-in-law was at the recent fire that took the lives of two members of the SFFD, so I was hearing all about that. But we wandered over to the bar corner to find Dan and John, and move our group to the Philosopher's Club in West Portal, which is apparently where you go.
I never really knew this before. Supervisor Elsbernd (Class of '93) told me about it, and then told me everything was off the record.
Anyway, I was hanging out at the cafeteria bar, being introduced to lots of people from "Class of '87, bro!" and high-fiving them. At this point, it's 10:30pm and the event is winding down. Also, my old freshman-year friend Rory, whom I had not seen since graduating 15 years ago had just moved back to town and was reportedly going to meet us at the bar. Before we left, I headed to the ladies to powder my nose.
Which is when I noticed that across the commons, about 40 gorgeous and fabulously dressed women sat, having pulled chairs together. It looked like the waiting room for a Banana Republic model casting call. They were not at the bar high-fiving. They were sitting around having very polite conversations, about what I will never know.
Because I was not swimming into that school of barracudas. There was no fucking way. I'd rather high-five people in golf visors.
In the ladies room was someone in a stall having a rather tough evening. I don't know the details and regrettably, I offered no help. I figured the open bar had gotten the better of this fine young woman and I do not judge the drunks.
We all caravanned to the bar, and it was the first time I caravanned to any high school party ever, so I was pretty excited. I had Dan and my classmmate Ben with me, and both were singing to the radio and gossipping about clasmates.
I will admit, I finally felt kinda cool.
Somewhere in West Portal, we placed our nametags from the reunion on the side of some building. It was very weird to see "Elizabeth Spotswood, Class of 1996" up there next to people I never spoke to in high school, but I was feeling good when I pushed my way into that packed bar. There seemed to be hundreds of people inside and like, three chicks.
That may not have been the case, and by this point I was hating women anyway. And there, standing by himself was my old chum Rory. I have never been happier to see anyone, because while Rory was much, much cooler than me in high school, he shares my mild disdain for the golf-visor crowd. He is also a journalist now, and as for me at this reunion, he got it. I hung out with him all night and we talked and laughed and watched a lady fall by the pool table.
It was great.

My friend John kept buying everyone drinks and I had like, 8 Diet Cokes in front of me. At one point, I was explaining to everyone how our classmate had "saved the internet", which was hottly debated.
On and on, I went, defending my fellow nerd who'd made good. "Seriously. I asked someone from Wired Magazine. They confirmed it. He's like, a big computer code guy."
Ever the journalist, Rory wanted more specifics. "What do you mean he SAVED the internet."
Finally, from across the table formerly scary baseball guy put an end to the discussion by announcing, "Look. Obviously he's a brilliant motherfucker."
It was a point on which we all could agree. It was a moment in which I realized, intimidating women aside, that when you're 33 it's much easier to celebrate the accomplishments of people you used to know. Why, I couldn't tell you. I was just thrilled to be embraced by folks who'd always seemed so intimidating.
And I thanked God that whatever had made me weird and anti-social back then, in some way led me to do what I'm doing now, which has resulted in someone slapping me on the back and referring to me as 'fucking hilarious.'
Class of '96 FTW, bro...

5 comments:

KG said...

There is a big detail I'm missing!

Thank you, Beth. said...

Very Breakfast Club revelatory and just fantastic.

You are a better person that I am, Beth Spotswood. While I can sympathize wholeheartedly, as a guy, I suspect I endured far less and yet, I still wouldn't set foot within a hundred yards of one of these reunions.

Anonymous said...

Wow! A bar full of SI grads.

Where's a PG&E pipeline explosion when you need one.

TK said...

My high school was founded in 1865 and is still resolutely all-male.

I've never been to one of the reunions because, duh, NO CHICKS.

Anonymous said...

Gee Beth, I wonder why you had such a rough high school experience.. sounding a bit bitter. Wondering if the school you attended (and we all know which one it was) you missed out on some of the self worth classes. At least your education got you a journalist job..see... life's not as tough as you think...Get out of your own way..