The class of ’95 was never much for tradition. When we were in eighth grade, we were the first class to let seventh graders hang out on the Eighth Grade Patio. In high school we walked on the Senior Walkway long before we were seniors, and by the time we were, we graciously let underclassmen use the allegedly coveted strip of cement. I’m proud of our collective progressiveness, but I suspect it was and is fueled by apathy.
Case in point: It seems no one has gotten around to planning our 10-year high school reunion. Although there are rumors that Paige Nelson is, or a guy named Steve, or both. Go class of ’95! Way to prove you’re grown-ups!
My friends and I decided to take matters into our own hands and hold a mini reunion. For one thing, the big reunion will inevitably be about showing off and gossiping. I enjoy both activities in moderate doses—and trust me, a just-in-case-there’s-a-reunion diet will be undertaken, and probably broken—but it’s also nice to spend some quality time with the people I actually liked. The people who actually remember me. Namely, Amy, Bonnie, Heather, Jenessa and Kristy (Angie couldn’t make it).
We met for lunch today at El Sombrero #2 in Manhattan Beach, the storefront Mexican restaurant where we always used to go on half days. It was just like old times, except now we shared our table with Jordan, Bonnie’s adorable 16-month-old son. In the old days we could never get cute boys to hang out with us.
After catching up on important things like our careers and love lives and favorite reality shows, we went back to my dad’s house to peruse old photo albums and watch the Friends Forever video Bonnie edited for us when we graduated (Bonnie is definitely the documentarian of the group). The video consisted of footage from fourth grade through twelfth, and, we discovered, 90 percent of it consists of talent show antics. Some of it was from actual school plays and talent shows, but apparently all we needed was an empty driveway and a boombox, and we’d perform.
There’s Bonnie’s and my gymnastics routines, Bonnie and Angie lip-synching the dialogue of National Lampoon’s Vacation, Heather glamming it up in a church production of Cinderella. Amy, Jenessa and Bonnie host talk shows with topics like “Girls Who’ve Never Had Boyfriends” and the satirical “How To Get A Man.” Kristy does a pretty convincing Debbie Gibson, and Bonnie and Amy carry her around on a throne made out of their arms. For some reason, there are a lot of fake boxing matches and reenactments of commercials—for items like Big Red and Ivory Soap (though the bar Bonnie’s using is clearly Irish Spring). There are rhythm games with cups, white girl gangsta posturing, My Little Pony puppet shows and so many drill/cheer routines. Then there are the more mysterious performances, like the one in which Bonnie and Amy sit on my back porch and recite a story in unison, in a slightly stupefied voice, beginning, “It was a full moon on Amy’s balcony….” I think she must have seen her neighbor naked or something.
After watching the sixtieth dance routine, Jenessa pointed out, “Have you noticed that we get older in the video, but our activities stay exactly the same?”
“No wonder we didn’t have boyfriends,” someone concluded, I think Amy.
I kind of like that we were all such hams. It’s good clean fun, and I like to think it prophesied creative futures for us; Angie is the only actress among us now, but we’re all artistic in our own ways. (That's us now in the pic, still hamming.) However, I couldn’t help but notice that, while we all could claim some unfortunate hairstyles, my awkward stage seemed much more prolonged than anyone else’s.
I’ve had this realization before. From my adult POV, I’ll periodically think, “Oh, I was probably a cute kid, I just had low self-esteem, that’s why I remember thinking everyone else was so much cooler than me.” Then I’ll see some photos or watch a video and realize, no, I really did have a giant nose and crazy hair; I really couldn’t remember dance routines; I really was pretty chunky by senior year; I really was inhibited, as much as I longed for the spotlight.
No big deal—it’s all about creating low expectations among my peers for the big reunion. The sheer fact that I no longer have bleached blonde hair with six inches of brown roots should be proof that I’ve come a long way.