Lately I’m reminded of why I declined to attend my 40th high school reunion in 2018. Maybe I’m finally ready to be honest about it, even if I’m cognizant of it not mattering, in the least, either way.
For one thing, I was busy.
Pints&union was in the run-up to opening on August 1, and there were things that needed to be done. It made me very nervous, because you’ll recall at the time that I’d been out of the food and drink game for three years. Getting back into it at an advanced age took effort, more mental than physical, and obviously none of us are as spry as we used to be.
But while it was a valid consideration, it’s only a part of it.
Another aspect was lingering annoyance with 2013, when it was my great pleasure to host a portion of the reunion at Bank Street Brewhouse.
It transpired that one of my actual friends from high school arrived loaded (literally or figuratively) for bear, spent the evening complaining about mixed drink prices (at a brewery), harassing my staff (one of whom came to me and said if my “friend” didn’t leave him alone, he’d have to begin throwing punches) and being an all-purpose tool.
My ‘friend” embarrassed me greatly, and then, as it happened, the very same guy proved to be an avid, unapologetic MAGA-ite, which leads us to the third and most important factor in my (admittedly entirely personal) disaffection, this being the presidential election results in 2016.
In short, via the helpful medium of Facebook, I had a front row seat to observe the extent to which certain of my former classmates as yet were on the same wavelength as me in political terms, and which ones had gulped down the Trump Kool-Aid and become raging reactionaries, white supremacists, religion-obsessed theocrats, and, in short, stranded way out in right field somewhere.
And yet it wasn’t anger with this state of affairs that convinced me to avoid the reunion party in 2018. None of it made me mad. We’re all individuals, and while I disagree with them, it doesn’t mean any more than that — a disagreement.
Rather, it was sadness.
Granted, the high school experience is vastly overrated; it was far more pain than pleasure for me, and really, you’d have to be applying rose-colored revisionism to an epic degree to celebrate those years.
This being said, I look back on various people and phases with satisfaction and affection, hence the melancholy gripping me in 2018. I didn’t show up because I’d prefer to remember them the way they were, not grapple internally with what they’d become.
It’s as simple as that.
In high school most of the kids were apolitical, many times politically incorrect, mostly sharing the same goal of making sense of adolescence and trying to figure out what would come next, out in the real world.
I’d rather remember them — us — this way.
I don’t even hold a grudge against the high school (and college) friend who made life miserable for me that evening at BSB in 2013. It’s who he is, and actually, it’s what he always was, an asshole, which is what drew us together in the beginning because I was, too.
We remain “friends” on Facebook, but I don’t follow him, thus sparing me from an endless series of auto-erotic Trump mash notes, conspiracy memes and “all lives matter” bromides.
Unfollow, but remain “friends.” It’s mental health for our time, and maybe 2023 will be different.