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10 Tips for Surviving a High School Reunion

Do you have a high school reunion coming up? Either way, here's a humor piece I wrote several years ago that is always fun to resurrect this time of year. It may not offer much in the way of business advice. However, as a professional speaker, I find that having good stories and a sense of humor comes in handy. Enjoy!


Recently, I attended my husband’s 25th high school reunion. It only made me love him more. Not because I gained insight into dear hubby’s youth or saw him in a new light, illuminated by all the cute reminiscing during the event. Rather, it made me feel overwhelming gratitude for how he had previously attended my last high school reunion and kept a smile on his face the entire night. He never let on how not-fun these things really are for the "and guest." He gave me room to reconnect with whats-her-name and chat about that hilarious thing that happened in 7th grade math with Mr. Brown Pants. He even went along without complaint to that restaurant where the Ground Round used to be next to what once was a Howard Johnson’s by the old Route 3. What a good sport. Still, it's one of those things that can be really fun or really torturous depending on attitude and approach.

Here are a few things I figured out about how to survive a high school reunion, particularly if it's not your own:

  1. As you enter the venue and your romantic partner is caught up in the initial crowd of air kisses and “Heeeeyyyyy stranger!!” discreetly check in with reception to find out where the most comfortable powder room and/or sports bar is located. Call ahead if necessary.

  2. Throughout the evening, use the information gained in #1 to take frequent breaks. Your partner won’t mind. S/he may even be grateful.

  3. Be proactive, and introduce yourself to the attendees. This creates a natural invitation for others to introduce themselves back vs. your date having to remember the name of some random person they sat in front of during Algebra class two or three decades ago.

  4. Your partner won’t be able to resist making references about “how hot” someone once was back in high school. Don’t bother being jealous or offended. If anything, look around and take comfort.

  5. Wear comfortable shoes. This is something I didn’t think of in advance. People at reunions don’t sit. You stand and mingle. Until your feet are bloody stumps. In your “fabulous” Alfani pumps.

  6. Based on my observations, I suggest you stay away from any appetizer buffet that includes little cubes of cheese and other “finger foods.” Same with the bread basket unless you like a little H1N1 with your crudités.

  7. Reunion DJ’s love to play the old songs, a shocking number of which involve jumping. Special advice for the ladies: wear a supportive bra. Please. I beg of you. At our age, this activity could be a safety hazard. I’m pretty sure I saw some poor woman give herself a concussion.

  8. Come up with a mantra that you can quietly say in your head over and over. Use this to make the time pass whilst your partner is having repeat conversations with everyone they haven't seen in 25 years. I recommend something simple which allows you to mindlessly smile, nod, and throw in an occasional chuckle. This one seemed to work pretty well for me: “Shoot me. Shoot me now.”

  9. This next piece of advice may be tough, but stay sober. Despite the fact that a Ketel One dirty martini (or five) would make the night so much more tolerable, it’s your partner’s night to party like it’s 1999… or ’89… or ’84 as the case may be. Someone needs to be the designated driver. And keep their shirt on. And refrain from saying things like, “I love you man!”

  10. There is bound to be at least one guy or girl who is already drunk at the beginning of the evening. WARNING! Do not engage. Do not make eye contact. If they approach, quickly excuse yourself to a location in #1. Trust me. It’s only going to get worse as the night goes on. You do not want Mr. Slurry Drool or Miss Barfsalot thinking it’s okay to hang on you because you’re “so friendly.”

Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t all bad. I got to meet some great new people and tell my old jokes to a new audience, some of whom were drunk enough to find me hysterically funny.

In addition, I definitely had the best date. We danced, sang, shouted and shook our bodies down to the ground. (No concussion.)


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