I wonder if attendance at High School reunions has dramatically dropped in the past 15 years since FACEBOOK got popular. Maybe I am wrong but I have always assumed that most people attend those simply to see how their classmates have aged. Did the football star become a divorced fat bald sewer worker? Did the geeky nerd pull a ‘kissed toad’ move transforming into a handsome prince? Which snooty cheerleader became wider than a wildebeest and which winsome wallflower blossomed into a vivacious vixen?
Back in the stone age before the internet, finding out ‘what ever happened to’ was a lot harder than a Google search or simple social media fishing expedition. Even in small towns most folks just keep up with a handful of old friends, so back in the proverbial day, you had to wait a decade or so for a big bruhaha reunion to finally find out whose body got lumpy, whose life got bumpy and whose world turned schlumpy.
I guess some folks never look back but I think far more of us at some point have dug around a little to see if you could finally stop regretting losing the ‘one that got away’. We want to think of ourselves as more evolved but tell me you would not smile if you learned that High School classmate that viciously stomped on your heart ended up miserable from making a continuous series of bad choices.
Many years ago, I went to my 10-year class reunion primarily as a bit of joke with my buddy Mike. We spent most of the time making fun of the folks taking it so seriously and laughing at the same nimrods that had grown from unpleasant kids to unpleasant adults but at that point people had not really changed that much yet. Mike told folks he had become a Metaphysical Psychologist and I claimed to have become an Amish Priest. We laughed our way through it and then left early.
I certainly can’t say anything bad about the experience except that it was a bit unrewarding and kinda anti-climactic. It was an experience. I even hooked-up and started dating someone I had not seen in that decade away who likely never would have gone out with me back when we were in school. So believe me, I understand the benefits of going to these things and how keeping up with people can lead to fruitful reconnections and help keep you connected to the past. But what about all those periphery folks I mentioned. Those faces in the yearbook of people you kinda knew way back when but then and now really have no deep friendship with.
That leads me to the whole reason all this popped in my head. Birthdays. I seem to constantly get those little pop up reminders that its someone’s birthday. And like a blindly led sheep, that I obviously can sometimes be, I always type a little ‘happy happy’ greeting and post it there on the old unforgiving internet for all to see illustrating I am a caring loving friend willing to spend the barest minimum effort to spread a drop a modicum of cheer.
Then the other morning I got seven birthday notices. I don’t know what made folks so frisky in those Octobers prior but I seem to know a lot of July babies. There were more proddings for Birthday greetings the next day too. Then more the next. Who are all these people?
Happy Happy’ I typed over and over and over again. Like eating addictive potato chips I could not stop at only one, even though there really was only one single person that I truly am particularly close to. I thought about just posting my well wishes to just the one dear old friend but what if some lesser acquaintance saw I bothered to type a greeting to someone else that day but ignored them? That is worse than the complete omission. If I just say nothing to anybody at least than it could be assumed I just never logged onto any social media that day. Of course, if they are they are that personality type that is constantly checking social media, that would be an inconceivable notion. They will assume I am purposefully snubbing them because how damn hard is it to write two friggin jolly words in a Birthday pop-up box.? They will surely assume I must really dislike them. Oh what a self-centered bastard they must take me for that I cannot type two little greeting-ish words in a ready to post handy dandy notification box. Like my time is sooooo important I can’t spare a few seconds to poke a few tiny keystrokes of well-wishing cheer for them once a year. They would most certainly think of me a thoughtless horrible egotistical self-absorbed cad.
On the other side, who are all these people that have accumulated in my Friends List? Are they part of the left over residue of my first MYSPACE page when I tried to collect people so it did not look so embarrassing that I only had six friends? Are they periphery work contacts from three jobs ago. Are they people that might have attended the same school as me but at that never acknowledged my existence?
What is my connection to these people. If the only time I even communicate with them is when I add to their once a year Birthday greeting totals, am I doing this because I care about them or because I want to feel loved when they hopefully reciprocate when my Birthday rolls around. What is my motivation? Is it simply part of that gut reflex of being raised to be nice that was hammered into my head by my Mom and ever since had caused me to feel guilty if I am not friendly, don’t wave to my neighbors or go out of my way to stop to assist someone in need?
I don’t have the answers. I do know I skipped the last couple of school reunions. And I do try to wish everyone a Merry Birthday. Well at least I only know a handful of folks born in August.