Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Class dork

So, I had a class reunion on Saturday.

Let me explain something before I tell you about this. From second through sixth grade I was the class dork. I didn't have a single real friend until the summer after fifth grade, when one of the girls sent me a note out of the blue, apologizing for the way she'd treated me and asking if we could still be friends.

Sixth grade was a lot easier, but everyone else still bullied me. Mostly it was a good thing. I'm a much kinder person than I would have otherwise been. I have a mean girl streak (just about anything will pop out of my mouth so long as I think it might make someone laugh), and this certainly put a damper on that.

But I'm still very insecure about what people think of me. I never think people like me. I know better, of course, so I don't make a habit of going psycho on friends for every perceived slight, but the thought is always in the back of my head. It doesn't help that I'm a people pleaser. There's a little part of me that wants to run after every person I meet, screaming, "LIKE ME! LIKE ME! PLEASE!" So pathetic.

Seventh grade was better. New school. I was still a dork, but at least I had a few friends. Every year after that was better, in fact. I'm still a dork to the core, but I'm usually pretty secure in it. Dorkdom has its perks. Especially if you're married to one.

But then this high school reunion, and hi, I'm ten again and have no friends, and all my clothes are too loose and too short, and my ears stick out, and my teeth are too big, and my otherwise stick-straight hair floofs out in giant clouds of fuzzy curls around my temples. It'd be cute if I were five again.

I can look in the mirror and think, "Whoah. You look really good today," and then walk away and five seconds later feel like the most unattractive girl in the room. I know better, but my stupid feelings don't. I could be the next Gisele and still feel like that awkward little girl.

So, I went mostly out of curiosity. There were a few people I was looking forward to catching up with, but mostly it was curiosity. I was hoping a few of the jerks would show up looking all bloated and ugly (because I'm juvenile). Maybe with a few teeth missing.

No such luck. Sadly, everyone there was still really good looking (curse you!).

But! It was so much fun. None of the real jerks were there. I was expecting it to be a lot more like high school, but it wasn't. People mingled. People remembered my name. People expressed interest in what I'd been doing with my life.

(Rather than act embarrassed, even though I kind of am, I find it's better to poke fun at myself: "I went to college for eight years, went through three majors, and got myself knocked up a year before graduation. You?" I find this is a very awkward start to conversation, but I like to just lay all the potential let's-make-fun-of-Naomi topics right out there before someone else has a chance to get a hold of them. If the person is still standing there when I'm done, I know I have a keeper. Or that he or she has had too much to drink.)

Even the guy who dumped me two days before homecoming and then ignored me through most of the dance and after party was nice. Sadly, he was not bloated, ugly, or missing any teeth, but I rescind my long-held assessment of him. He seems to have turned into an okay person. He came up and talked to me for a few minutes even though he didn't have to, since I never even saw him. I found out later he bought the beer for the reunion.

People grow up. People get nicer. People don't stay 18 for the rest of their lives. They turn into people I wouldn't mind being friends with. It's mind-blowing, I tell you. The people who were nice got nicer, and the people who weren't so nice turned decent.

I stayed until after two in the morning. I'd been planning to go home by ten. But I got to talking with people from my junior high class, and we sat on the back deck of the restaurant for several hours.

(And, of course, despite there being no reason to think this, there's still that voice in the back of my head saying they all made fun of me behind my back once I left. Stupidstupidstupid.)


  1. I went to my high school reunion last fall. It was amusingly like high school to me. At first we sort of went around, talking to people we hadn't seen in ages and hadn't kept up with, etc. Eventually we got tired of the stress of that and my husband and I (high school classmates) sat with a friend (high school classmate who we keep up with) and his wife and chatted (as best we could over the loud music) the rest of the time. So like high school. :) My husband got a bit drunk, which was entertaining (never seen him drunk before, we don't really drink), and that was about it. It tended to be mostly the people I liked well enough who showed up at the reunion, so I didn't see as much of the "people get nicer" phenomenon.

    I'm sorry that you struggle so much with how people see you, though! At least online, you come across as being incredibly witty and fun to read. And some of the things you say I feel like, "I could have said that!" I bet you'd be cool to meet in real life, at least once you got comfortable.

  2. I'm good at hiding it. Most people say they can't tell that I'm nervous or shy. Ten years of waitressing was very good for me.

    Now, a couple hours of hanging out with people I barely knew anyway isn't enough to get a good read on character, but it did seem like many people had grown out of the clique stage. It was a nice surprise. I'm pretty cynical about things like this, and I like to be proven wrong. :)