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The Reunion Commandments

By Christopher Schonberger

This weekend I attended a big football rivalry that doubles as a reunion weekend for my alma mater. Basically, everyone stands in a massive field for six hours drinking heavily and engaging in a seemingly endless stream of 30-second conversations. It’s like speed-dating, only colder and less interesting.

I don’t want to come off as a curmudgeon, because I do genuinely enjoy seeing many of my old classmates (especially for very short amounts of time). But, having been to my five-year high school reunion this past summer as well, I am beginning to see the bizarreness of “reconnecting” with people you haven’t thought about once since graduating. Thus, as an addendum to Cheddar Ted’s Top 10 Life Lessons, I present Gritz’s Reunion Commandments.

Thou shalt not be the first to ask, “What are you up to now?”

It’s inevitable. You know it’s coming. But you still don’t want to be the one to admit that you have nothing else to say. If someone asks you, then you are sort of obliged to reciprocate, but at least you can join in with the knowledge that you held out for a higher ground. Example: At the tailgate I went to this weekend, there was a row of trees that most people were using as a urinal. When I went to pee, however, I saw one drunk dude taking a huge deuce into a pile of leaves. This was a gift from the gods of reunions, because I could then begin every conversation by saying, “You see those trees over there? I just saw someone take a DUMP there! Talk about fall foliage!?” After a comment like that, it’s best to make an excuse about why you have to leave immediately. People will be left strong impression that you are hilarious and slightly insane.

Thou shalt not talk about your job for over 60 seconds

It’s amazing to me that when it comes down to it, people barely know what their best friends do at work. No matter how much they try, no one truly cares enough to figure it out. So the chances of giving even the remotest shit about what a casual acquaintance does is highly unlikely. Keep this truth in mind. As a corollary, it is reasonable to make up stories and spread various falsehoods about your life to spice up the proceedings.

Thou shalt not treat reunion as therapy

Apologizing for something that happened years ago is mad awkward, as is telling people in intimate detail about how depressed you are. Keep it light—reunions are long and you’ve got to keep the energy up.

Thou shalt not get blackout

This is controversial, but hear me out. There are some people you expect to wild out, and when you see them you’ll laugh and say, “That dude is so good at partying!” But you don’t want to be that dude. For most other people, getting insanely wasted suggests to everyone else that you are depressed and have adjusted horribly to life after college. Not a good look.

Thou shalt not blow up other people’s spots

A lot of drunk people with very little to talk about is the WD-40 that keeps the gossip mill running. “Is you old roommate and best friend still addicted to heroin?” “Did you hear that James is a convicted sex offender?” People will pry you for information about others, and you may even let things slip unwittingly amidst the mayhem, but it’s a losing game. Better to just say that everyone’s “doing great” and leave it at that.

Thou shalt not assume that everyone is the same as they used to be

Some guys who used to be complete a-holes may very well still be a-holes, but at least give them a shot at redemption. This works best for high school, especially once the open bar kicks in—the biggest chaches probably drank a lot in high school, but now they’ve had at least five years to reign themselves in. Meanwhile, the dorkier kids probably started drinking when they were college, so it can be shocking to see them pound a mixed drink. But hey, everyone’s got to grow on their own terms.

This commandment also holds when it comes down to getting down—the nerdiest girls from school, according to my brother, are the ones who will jump you the hardest at reunion. On the flip side, if you are a dingus and think you might be able to rekindle something with your high school sweetheart, be prepared to see her skipping into the woods by the football field with a “high school hero.”

For the heretics

All that said, I can’t really blame anyone for throwing caution to the wind and acting completely inappropriately. Rob Hepler of Hypebeast is preparing for a reunion and suggests the following tactics:

  • If people don’t show up, tell others that they have passed away.
  • Rent a Lamborghini.
  • Find out who has made the most money and try to get them to pay your student loans.
  • Start fights about random things that happened ten years ago.
  • Don’t flush.
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