Monday, November 28, 2005

Dating, Gayish or Married?

Or so I thought I heard a high school friend ask me at my ten year reunion this past weekend. I incredulously asked her to repeat the question and she repeated the much more reasonable, "Are you dating, engaged or married?" We both giggled when I explained what I mistakenly heard – then her husband interjected, "did you just ask her if she was ‘gayish’?" The giggling spread around the table for quite a while before I could answer this simple question.

Towards the end of the night I spoke with a different woman who inquired about my husband. Errr..... She explained that the group she was speaking with earlier told her that I was married. Our rumor mill is very efficient for spreading false information, just like in high school.

I was very much looking forward to class reunion, and unexpectedly got somewhat nervous right before it, too. I ended up feeling uneasy almost the whole time I was there. I have weird thoughts about the event, while at the same time perplexed at why I care, since most of these people have nothing to do with my current life.

First, I arrived to learn that the small group of people already there were talking about me. Two of the people in the group were people whom I distrusted/disliked in high school because they constantly made fun of other people behind their backs and had a cooler-than-though attitude.

From what I gleaned, the topic of conversation was that I biked a lot, with the general examples of biking between Chicago/Milwaukee, Chicago/Wisconsin, Milwaukee-Kenosha. The specific example was when Paul and I biked from Steph’s wedding ceremony to the hotel/reception a few months ago. It was a little disturbing to know that other people, whom I never got along with, knew and were talking about my life when I wasn’t privy to the conversation and therefore unable to explain, clarify or hear the tone of the conversation.

It could have been:

"jojo lives in Chicago and bikes everywhere – it’s really neat and she has this whole community of friends who do the same"
– OR –
"jojo bikes everywhere like some sort of freak – don’t even get her started talking about it, because she is a bike-zealot who has joined a cult."

I suspected that it was nearer to the latter. I also suspect that one of my close friends offered up this information as a gossip token, which is rather disturbing because she often did the same thing to try to curry favor with this group during high school.

[Warning: This whole post is mostly ridiculous, with a strong resurgence of latent high school insecurity–I’m embarrassed to write many parts.]

Several women who I didn’t like in high school because they were fake, back-stabbing bitches greeted me with sugary sweetness. At different points in time I had been somewhat of friends with each of these women, but long before graduation I had ceased any semblance of friendship with them when I realized that they were only friendly to me when it was convenient to them. I have pretty much always had the policy of treating people the way I feel about them: If I don’t like them – they are aware of it; If they are my friends, then I am loyal to them. I don’t pretend to be friends with people I do not like – I will be civil, but don’t offer any illusion of friendship. I have no tolerance for two-faced, back-stabbing behavior in myself or others.

So anyway, I was very uneasy when these different women greeted me as if we were friends. I knew that it has been ten years, and people change, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were just being nice to me to gather gossip fodder for a later conversation in my absence. I tried to be open-minded, but at times I could feel my hackles were up and I bristled during some conversations.

There appeared to be a strong divide between the ‘cool kids’ and rest of the group. Unfortunately "Chicago" and "attorney" were the first two answers to the questions people asked me. As much as I tried to downplay this when speaking with people who still lived in the area, it seemed to create an immediate barrier between myself and classmates I haven’t seen since high school. Several people just mumbled in response that their lives were probably dull in comparison. There was a surplus of awkwardness to go around during the evening.

I don’t think it helped that I didn’t get trashed along with everyone else. My baby brother Frick graciously agreed to chauffeur me around to prevent any possible drunk driving. However, I didn’t join the rest of people who got blitzed that night. I don’t trust myself to get drunk when I feel anxious, awkward, angry or any other negative emotion. So besides the pregnant women, I was probably the next most sober person in my graduating class. I suspect that the massive amount of fun that many other people had should be partially attributed the corresponding amount of alcohol they consumed.

I didn’t expect this, but most of the people who lived in the general hometown area seemed to have just ‘built a house out in the country.’ Funny, considering that earlier in the day, Frick and I drove around to see how much worse the sprawl had gotten since our last visit. Older farm houses that raised large families years ago sit empty because they aren’t large enough for today’s small families and their accumulated belongings. It is very sad and many of my classmates are contributing to this situation.

Random observations:
  • I think I was the only woman who wasn’t wearing make-up.
  • Quote: "I’m considering having another baby so I don’t have to work anymore." (Woman who went back to work this Autumn because her children were now in school).
  • At the five year class reunion, a lot of people looked doughy and worse for the wear. I was expecting this year to be even worse. Surprisingly, the people who attended for the most part looked pretty good – two even looked much better than in high school. My suspicion is that those who aged poorly declined to attend.
  • Many people had children. Except for the relatively small group of professionals who now live in larger cities (mostly the ‘cool kids’), almost everyone had children, or were at least married. I saw lots of pictures of children.
  • My ass was grabbed/patted by two different people. I’m still completely perplexed by this.

Even given all of the mentioned weirdness, it was nice to see many people. I will probably look up several of them if/when I am next visiting the cities that they live in. Some people it was just plain nice to connect with again and we might attempt to resume some sort of friendship in the future. Unfortunately, most of the people whom I were most interested in seeing again were not present.


At 11:08 PM, Blogger Sascha said...

This is like a poster child post for I will never bother with a high school reunion. I didn't like 'em then (with a few exceptions) so I can't imagine that I'd like 'em now.

And their little lives *are* duller than your. How many of them can say they've ridden a bicycle naked for hours in Chicago? I mean, really? Who are you trying to kid?

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Fritz said...

This is the THIRD high-school-reunion blog post I've seen today. I think that portends great and disastrous things. The other two bloggers said they hated their classmates too, but then they go to the reunion anyway.

I wasn't the cool kid either, but I got along with everybody just fine. I never noticed the "backstabbing" thing you like to talk about, but then maybe that's a girl thing or something. Who knows.

I'm still vaguely in touch with some of my old classmates, but we're all scattered hither and yon -- literally all around the world.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger jojo said...

It's not that I hate my classmates, but it was weird.

Most of the people I really wanted to see because I liked them in high school were no-shows.

The remainder were either close friends, the 'cool kids,' or people I didn't know well or weren't friends with in high school.

It was interesting, though -- especially feeling myself digressing into high school uneasiness.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger George said...

My 30th reunion is coming up in a couple years. I'm gonna miss that one like I missed all the others.

I had something like 3 friends in high school so it wasn't one of my fondest memories.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Frick said...

I think you stumbled across the ultimate class reunion bingo question. For three points, find someone who is married, gay, and dating.

At 6:33 PM, Blogger jojo said...

Frick -- you are a genius! Of course finding someone on the DL would be the ultimate class reunion find. You'll have your chance in two years to rectify my mistake.

Incidentally, one classmate's wife just left him. This announcement killed all of his conversations and caused people to excuse themselves to get another drink.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger equipoise said...

I might have my chance next year ... um, assuming that there are 15yr class reunions. Are there?

Actually, doesn't matter. I haven't gone to one yet, and probably never will. I keep in touch regularily with the select few people I care about from my class, and that's enough for me.


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