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Monday, December 6, 2021

Column: I hate your face

There are few things in life quite as exciting as receiving a Facebook notification. It’s like the less eventful, minuscule version of opening gifts on Christmas morning.

But when your notification button is inundated with a barrage of invites and reminders for your high school reunion, you run away from Facebook like a fat kid runs away from a  treadmill (ironic?).

Don’t get me wrong, reunions sound like a superb idea. Sure, it’s been a few years and I’d love to see how my classmates have changed. Of course, a nice get-together to reminisce old times and catch up on our new lives would be fascinating!

But, underneath the beguiling surface lies the terrible truth of why reunions have come to be. Anyone who attends, or creates, these awful events (save those who have been induced by sheer force of will) only attend for one singular reason: to flaunt to everyone how much better they are now than they were before.

For the nerd, it could be that he will appear wearing contacts and embracing a hot girlfriend. For the jock, he will make a showing with an even hotter girlfriend. And for that shabby-looking girl we all used to avoid … well, she will be unrecognizable in her newly blossomed body.

But, those that have no new and improved physical attributes to showcase will make up for it with success stories. “Have you been to New York over the summer? It’s beautiful. Oh, by the way, I worked as an intern on Wall Street,” one might boast, or “Last year, I interned for Senator So-and-so, so I’m pretty much a big deal.”

If this is how we are after just three years of school, imagine what it would be like 15 years from now. I’m sure many of us will attend with the intention of showing off our wealth. Some guy might casually remark, “Getting a salt-water indoor pool installed on the second floor of my vintage chateau is so complicated!”

And your impending reaction? “I don’t care!” But, you won’t say that. So, you fake a smile and offer a phony and complacent response like, “How wonderful!” just to assure him that his personal life story is not at all boring and dulling away the very neurons of your brain.

The worst, though, will be when someone talks about how smart/athletic/talented their kids are. “My daughter can name the capital of every state,” or “My son can roller blade backward. You should see him do it, it’s hilarious!” But instead of laughing, all you want to do is roll your eyes to the back of your head and keep them there until they stop talking.

Following this exposé of interactions between classmates, we should keep in mind never to advertise reunions as a meaningful occasion for meeting old pals. Because let’s be frank, we are not, and never have been, pals with everyone from our class. The only people we really care for seeing are our real friends, whom we keep in touch with on a weekly if not daily basis anyway.

The most likely circumstance that would occur at one of these reunions is that you’ll huddle in a group with your close friends and comment on someone else’s weight or make fun of the way someone dresses.

This is not much different from what you already do (Facebook stalking sound familiar?), except now, this insensitive activity is done in a more public manner over cheese and wine. The occasional small talk with those outside your clique only happens when you stroll to the table to grab more hors d’oeuvres.

Personally, I was never a fan of the whole clique scene in high school, and reunions are just the adult version of that. We like to surround ourselves with only those we’re comfortable with and everyone else is a poor victim of our ridicule.

So, why do I fear reunions more than I fear the Apocalypse? Because I don’t want to tire my face muscles flashing fake smiles, nor is it in my interest to tell someone it’s good seeing them when deep down inside what I genuinely want to say is, “I hate your face.”

Send MICHELLE NGUYEN ideas for excuses not to attend her high school reunion at michellen1990@yahoo.com.

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