High School Reunions: To Go or Not to Go

Thanksgiving weekend is approaching and along with turkey dinners, family gatherings and football, comes another tradition: high school reunions. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re single and looking for love, high school reunions can change a life, or two.

First we have to understand why reunions can create such angst. A reunion is a milestone; one that forces us to involuntarily look backwards. And when we do that we’re faced with an awareness of where we are today. No problem, if we’re content. Huge problem, if we’re not.

When I interviewed men for my second book, “Dating for Dads,” I was surprised how many of them had met “someone” at their reunions. Matter of fact, I have a male friend who is widowed and is currently dating a woman he met at his reunion. (He actually left that night with two phone numbers.)

If you’ve given up on dating sites, matchmaker friends, and the bar scene, you’ll find that meeting someone at a reunion feels safe. For one thing, you already know they aren’t lying about their name, where they grew up, or where they went to college. And, even better, you already know their real age. And they know yours!

So if you’re single and looking, don’t let any insecurities about your personal life, career or your extra 20 pounds dissuade you from attending alone. In fact, you’ll find that the older we get, (especially for all those reunions after 30 years) most of your married classmates will show up without spouses.

If you’re really nervous about going alone, then get reconnected with some of your old friends through Facebook where a lot of foreplay, so to speak, is done before the actual reunion. Come on, some 25 or 40 years later, aren’t you at least a little curious about what happened to your junior prom date?

So when I ask the question about whether you should go or not go to your reunion, what I really mean is, go already. Show that snooty cheerleader how fantastic you are. Besides, perkiness doesn’t transfer very well into middle-age.


The Play's the Thing. Yuck.

A friend’s phone call a few weeks ago left me intrigued about a play at a regional theater not far from where I live. “It has something to do with a sister and a brother, and a mother and a son. I thought you might be interested because of your book.” I agreed, and dragging our better halves with us, we went to the show. Two days later, I am still creeped out.

The play, called Jen and John, opens with a girl and her little brother who is six years younger. We watch them age – which since the cast included just two actors playing the roles, it was more like a voice change – and she continues to protect him, especially from their abusive dad. She then goes off to college and becomes a hippie. He enlists in the military and gets sent to Vietnam. And – spoiler alert – he dies.

I was okay with the first act. And admittedly, the actors were very good. I was even touched a bit here and there thinking of my own kids – my daughter is older by four years and is very protective of her younger brother. But then we came back from intermission.

Now the woman is grown and married – though apparently divorced – has a baby who is named after her brother, of course. She tells him he looks like his dead uncle and promises to dress him in his clothes. (I couldn’t make this up.) Then the baby (played by the same adult actor from Scene One) grows up, learns that his mother had been hiding his acceptance to an Ivy League college for two weeks (What mother does that?) and then angrily storms out of the house and rushes to tell his girlfriend the good news. Oh yeh, Mom doesn’t like the girlfriend.

So why does Mom conceal the fact that her son has gotten into college? She doesn’t want him to leave. In fact, she makes it very clear to him that she would like him to remain at home, forever, apparently. Despite his testy reaction to her request, he ultimately has an epiphany. You know, Mom has been so good to him, maybe he should just stay home. He decides to call the college and tell them he’s not coming, he would rather throw away an opportunity of a lifetime to stay at home with his mom.

How are you feeling now? Like me?

One more thing, this was a musical.


Beauty and the Beach

It’s October and I thought I was finished writing about the beach – at least until next summer. But then there we were. Saturday. A glorious day. One of those very rare Goldilocks Days (to borrow a description of a planet discovered last week – “Not too hot, not too cold.”)

And so I found myself along with my significant other pulling our car over to the side of the road, rolling up our jeans, taking our shoes off and sinking our bare feet into the velvety soft sand. Our ringside seat was a blanket I keep in my car for impromptu picnics, insufficient heaters, and as a protective barrier for traveling nursery plants.

In one visual sweep from our perch, I saw a dozen or so other smiling people, surfers, butterflies (tons of them), skimmers (very cool black and white birds), seagulls, and, as if I needed anything more, a school of dolphins.

I love the beach in the summer, but when it’s July and 90 degrees and I’m on vacation, it’s expected that we will slip on bathing suits, pack up some food and head to the beach. It takes something more to find yourself sitting on the sand, watching the ocean in Autumn. A detour, maybe. A stop-what-you’re-doing decision. A willingness to accept that these are the gifts we rarely get, but always cherish.

It rained all day Sunday at the shore. I thought about a friend who lives in LA and frequently complains to me about how the weather there is just so damn perfect. Once in a while, he says, it would be nice to have some gray. I think I get it. We need it all – sun, rain, heat, cold, wind, snow.

Experiencing it, makes us feel alive.


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