Who's the Daddy: Why I’m going back to school
The last time we all saw each other we were young, pretty and under the illusion we had the world at our feet.
Thirty years later we’re middle-aged with our hopes and dreams either achieved or long abandoned and with one foot in the grave.
Reunions are eerily terrifying. A bit like accidentally walking in on your parents having sex or overhearing your pearl-clutching granny saying the f-word when she thought no one was listening. Which is why, up until now, yours truly has swerved every single one.
There’s a line in Grosse Pointe Blank, where John Cusack’s contract killer (pictured) umms and ahhs about going to his school reunion and his assistant tells him she went to hers and “it was just as if everyone had swelled.”
Still, the do isn’t until next summer so there’s time for Botox, extreme dieting, exercise regimes, cosmetic dentistry and hair transplants.
What’s that you say, if you dislike reunions so much, why buy a ticket for this one? Two reasons. 1. We’re all of an age now and there may not be too many more. 2. Sheer morbid curiosity. Social media is a lie. On Facebook, anyone can pretend their life isn’t falling apart. You only get the real picture when you see them in the flesh. Any tips on what to say or how to behave at a reunion would be much appreciated, if only to avoid a night of endless “Hiya! How you doing? What you up these days?” followed by 30 seconds of excruciating awkwardness that ends with “Right, have a great night. See you later.”
The temptation is to drink your way through it. Bad idea. Four hours of solid Dutch courage can have a nasty habit of switching off your internal filter and showing everyone what you’re really like now. After half a dozen pints, your answer to a general inquiry like that may be: “Yeah, realised a tiny fraction of my potential, got stuck in a job I don’t like but got used to the money, the kids have grown up and left home and my wife’s bored of me. You?”
Life might well have ground you down into a cynical, 50-something, hollowed-out shell. But you don’t want your old college mates finding out, do you? So I’m going in dry.