You wear your favorite yoga pants and the "This Wine is Making Me Awesome" t-shirt, sit down with a bag of cookies, and proceed to open the mail. Then you choke when you see the letter about the pending high school reunion only six months away. There is no way you'll lose 50 pounds in time, so you tackle that second bag of cookies before it gets stale. And you cringe because your title of "Most Likely to Succeed" turned into "Most Likely to Wear a Bathrobe to the Store."
In my hometown of Wendell, Idaho, the annual combined class reunion includes graduates from the past 60 years. All ages come together to reminisce, shake their heads at the rambunctious youngsters, and moan about the loss of the playground equipment.
"Kids can't even play anymore," they mumble. "I remember how we fell out of trees, crashed off the monkey bars, and rode our bikes without a helmet. I hit my head so many times I forgot my name. These children will never know how to have fun like we did."
The old-timers nod and pontificate about the pending doom of society. Then the band begins playing a concoction of Country, Blue Grass, and Tent Revival music and the mood changes to positive reflection. Even the most caustic attendees adjust their suspenders and tap their manure-covered boots in sporadic rhythms.
"Look at ol' Mr. Brown," someone mentions about an elderly man dancing alone in the grass. "He was my parent's teacher back in '63. Looks like he's still breathing."
"I noticed Harley still has his own teeth." A collective gasp of approval comes from the group. "Did you see Wanda's fake hairpiece? Looks like a muskrat crawled onto her head and died." We're all suddenly back in high school.
Even if you hated school, you don't want to miss the excitement and renewed camaraderie that could result from attending the reunion. Here are five reasons to go.
1. It's nice to see the popular people living ordinary lives. Now, the Student Body President runs a small eldercare facility, the Homecoming Queen works part-time in the Post Office, and the athletic star lives in a rehab center somewhere in the Midwest. The worthless class clown, however, flew to the reunion in a private jet.
2. The 10th reunion is High School Part II. The same people still try to organize, direct, and cheer-lead the group. But by then, the others can drink alcohol so the orchestrated program is more tolerable.
3. The 20th Reunion encourages interesting liaisons. For those still single, divorced, or looking, suddenly the frumpy girl from History 301 looks cute or the nerd from English Class learned how to dress without white socks. Sparks fly and couples are holding hands and promising to stay in touch. There's only a 10 percent chance these flings will last after the sun rises the next morning.
4. The 30th Reunion is why Spanx was invented. Middle-age classmates have lost hair and gained bellies. They pull out reading glasses and show photos of their children. Some have grandchildren. The party is over by 10:00 pm.
5. The 40th Reunion brings the Memory Wall. Photos of smiling faces beam from a poster showing those who have died. It's a stark reminder that we're not invincible. The crowd that cheered together and stomped to the beat of "We are the Champions" is missing several members. We hug each other with intention and share photos of grandkids.
If you receive the invitation to our reunion, don't automatically throw it into the trash. Consider a nostalgic visit back to a time and place that formed an important part of your life. You can attend for a few hours, if only to celebrate your current life without all the crap and drama from high school. It's okay to rent a luxury sports car for the day.