They got old!

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There is something startling about seeing someone after fifty years. Some people age well or at least well enough. Some people just don’t.

This is the year for my 50th high school reunion. I have never gone but this year I let the idea percolate in my head.

We attended the beloved husband’s 50th several years ago. There were a lot of old people but they were old when I met them so they didn’t look different.

For my reunion I am talking about folks that were 18 years old last time I saw them — at least most of them.

Being naïve and intrepid, I went onto the Facebook page created for the reunion. There were pictures of people. They were old people. I didn’t recognize them. I looked at the names listed and I couldn’t connect them. I knew two of the guys fairly well but my synapses weren’t snapping. There wasn’t a hint of recognition in my brain.

I focused on features that don’t change, like dimples and face shapes. Well folks that can all change. I think I found dimples (it was hidden under some heavy cheek tissue) but everyone had a round face that may have matched their bodies.

These folks are 67 or 68 years old so I wasn’t expecting to see a thin 18-year-old. (Yes, in my day kids graduating from high school were all thin.) But holy smoke! I wasn’t expecting to see such significant aging.

I thought men aged better than women — like Harrison Ford or Sean Connery. Not my classmates!

The beloved husband looks fabulous for his age but if you put him next to his high school picture, I couldn’t pick him out either. He looks better now. Not so with my classmates.

I was severely affected so I did what any neurotic woman would do. Close to hysterical, I went to the mirror. Do I look that old? I pulled out my high school picture. I do look different but I think it is better – sort of. I am 5 pounds lighter and my face is thinner.

I didn’t have any neck waddle or eye crinkles but I didn’t have boobs then either. Don’t boobs cancel out wrinkles? Do they cancel out crinkly thigh skin too? I sure hope so.

There weren’t any pictures of my female classmates.

My best friend from high school died a few years back and I have only seen one other female classmate in the last 20 years. She looked good but we were both under 50 at the time. Some others have died but I don’t know where the rest are.

I live in a small city. You would think I’d bump into someone from my class periodically but I don’t. Maybe I need to go to Bingo games. I didn’t see anyone at the oldies dance and I did look around. Mostly I was checking it out for “exes” but I didn’t see anyone I recognized.

Wait! If I don’t recognize them in a photo with their name under it, how would I recognize them if I ran into them? Maybe I have seen them.

Maybe I have seen them at the Home Depot or the grocery store. Maybe I have passed them on the street.

I can’t decide about the reunion. I have a great fear of walking around with the “deer in the headlights” look if I don’t recognize anyone. I wonder if anyone would recognize me.

31 thoughts on “They got old!

  1. I’ m short four years before my fiftieth. There were only 32 in our graduating class, the largest in school history and for many years afterward. We have reunions every ten years.
    I was one of the unpopular kids, no prom for me. Yet I was the one to organize our 30th and co-organized our 40th. Name tags are a must, even for a small class. And sometimes you look at a couple and wonder which one you went to school with.
    I didn’t go to my ten year, but have been glad I went to each one afterward.

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  2. No more reunions for me. I tried a couple and couldn’t take it. Agree about the men aging worse than the women–unflattering facial hair, hairless pates, and/or potbellies, egad! No body image issues for the men, I guess.

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  3. Maybe it’s good your synapses weren’t snapping…you probably will look better than anyone there because you’re so happy writing, being married to someone you actually like…have four-legged kids. And boobs…I’d say you’ll be Queen of the Hop.

    Love the picture of all the attendees. Clip arts the best 🙂

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  4. Having had four high-schools in my five years I fear I’m not on any high-school reunion list – and sadly don’t feel I’m missing out in the least. As has been said before, those we wish to remain in contact with we do, those we don’t well, they seem to miss the forwarding address. Perhaps if I hadn’t moved around during my school years, and all those years since, perhaps I’d feel differently but nope, no reunions for me…

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      • Wouldn’t it make things so much easier if there was an on-line sign up. After 50 years what names would you look up for women – how many would have “kept” their surnames? Some may have married five times, oh my… good luck with it Sherlock Holmes, lol!

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  5. I’ve already been to my 50th reunion, in fact, I took part in all the planning meetings. It was great fun. The men changed more than the women, especially those who grew beards. My best friends didn’t change much, but then, that’s just my opinion. Since our big reunion, we’ve had other parties, the most recent, a Valentine’s luncheon. We shared our email addresses, so one of our classmates keeps us up-to-date on the news. We hear from him every few days.
    Most of my classmates moved away from the small town we used to live in. I lived outside the United States for 20 years. Still, we had a fantastic turnout for our 50th reunion.

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  6. I flew to another state for my 50th. Had not been back since graduation. At first I felt that I was looking at old strangers through a fog. Gradually features came into focus, and with the help of name tags, I began to recognize my classmates. I very much enjoyed hearing how life had turned out. — Got to see an old crush who died about two years later. The highlight and talk of the event was Bob who was now “Elaine”! Wouldn’t have missed it for the world…

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    • I saw a classmate of mine in the 80s. We were good friends in junior high but drifted apart in high school. I know what you mean. She looked more mature but as she talked and gestured I could see my old friend drift in and out of this stranger’s body. I could see how “Elaine” would have been the talk of the class.

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  7. Ditto what Jill Foer Hirsch said above. I cannot imagine that anything positive would come of me attending my high school reunion. But then I moved away from my small hometown as soon as I could after high school, so even thinking back on those times has a surreal aspect to it. I imagine it’s different if you still are connected in some way with your hometown. Can’t wait to find out what you decide to do!

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    • I lived out of state for a while and moved around a bit so I am not so connected to my old high school. Most of my current “besties” are not school chums. I think some of my classmates had kids that went to the same school so it means more to them.

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  8. I think these reunions are highly overrated. The bottom line is that we’re still friends with the people we still care about, and for the rest it’s just curiosity. When I see pics of my former classmates though (32 years back from high school) I can usually recognize the women, but not the men, especially the ones who have no hair anymore…

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    • This has been haunting me because one of the two guys was a hottie. His hair is thin but completely white and not exactly in a good way. I went to find his Facebook page and there he was. His wife looked younger (and she may have been a little younger than him) but he looked like he was 80. This whole thing (just the pictures of the 2 guys) has been so traumatic I am not going! BTW the other guy died a month ago. Thanks for commenting. Chocolate, chocolate! I need chocolate!

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  9. When we haven’t seen people for a while, they are frozen in time. Unaging. Constant. So when we bump into them “out and about” it’s no wonder we don’t recognize them.

    I have never gone to a HS Reunion ~ it didn’t seem worth a day’s drive to get there. The one time I lived within an hour’s drive of the reunion, the cost turned me off ~ I think it was $150 per couple at a so-so venue.

    I would prefer a Pizza Party rather than a sit down dinner where you might be stuck sitting with people who are as annoying now as they were then.

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    • I have smiled at the venues as they changed as we aged. They started out with the fancy dinner dance. As people had children, they moved to picnics that would include the whole family. Now they are at very inexpensive “fire hall” type places. This year’s cost is $30 for dinner. Nothing mentions about a band/DJ. I expect we will have a breakfast at a diner next. My husband on the other hand, attended a high school in the northern burbs of Philadelphia. His reunion is always at a high end country club with a high $$. He never goes to his college reunion. He is more connected with his childhood chums than his college friends.

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  10. Never been to one of mine but have gone to many with my husband…sadly his class has almost gone into oblivion due to? Aah, old age mostly! His cousin was in his class and when we bump into him at reunions he never recognizes me…’I haven’t met you but you look somewhat familiar’…oops! Some of my classmates became famous so I kept up with them through the media. Reunions have a good side…and a sad side. Time marches on, right?

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    • My brother and his wife are in their eighties and they have a “reunion luncheon” every year. It used to be every 5 but they were losing too many and of course lunch is easier than dinner. Most don’t drive in the dark, can’t eat your standard fare and don’t want to dance anyway. Then there is my brother who defies all the statistics.

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  11. Oh Kate I will be waiting to see what you decide! I haven’t been to a reunion since I left HS. And I won’t be starting now! No one has even organized a reunion for years. I have been out of HS for 45 years. Love your post.. 🙂

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    • I hope they would have name tags. I was so stumped by the photos that it made me less likely to attend. I doubt that my personal high school friends attend so I would be there with “the click.” OHHHH! That sounds so high school.

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