Due to lack of time I’ll skip any efforts at charity or optimism and just come out and say it: is there anything worse than going to your spouse’s high school reunion?
The purpose for our visit to Houston this weekend was to attend my husband’s 20th high school reunion. To be honest, I was not looking forward to it, but I did try to be as positive about it as possible. Often when we attend social events in which the circumstances seem to offer a perfect storm of social awkwardness opportunities for me, I try to look at it as if I am a missionary, being sent by God to perhaps spread the Good News, or just bring a little happiness and peace to someone’s day. In the past when I have prayed for God to help me see social events as an opportunity to do his work, it’s been surprisingly effective: I always end up feeling peaceful about the event, and almost always end up with some kind of clear opportunity for evangelization, e.g. ending up randomly sitting next to someone who is searching for God and wants to talk about it, or something like that.
So as we walked into the dance hall of the barbecue restaurant on Saturday evening, I did my best to maintain a positive attitude and see the evening as nothing but one, big opportunity to do God’s will!
Almost immediately I got separated from my husband when he got called away from the group we were standing in before the introductions were finished. “NICE TO MEET YOU! I SAID… NICE…TO…MEET…YOU, ” I attempted to yell over Guns N’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle. Luckily a Whitesnake power ballad came on next, which made it a bit easier to at least hear one another’s names.
It only took a few of these interactions for me to realize: people did not pay $160 to come to this reunion to talk to their high school friends’ spouses (yes, I said $160 — long story — we got a big discount, which was the only reason we were there). Even the spouses didn’t want to talk to the spouses.
At one point, after my husband was yet again called away in mid-conversation, I found myself standing next to a guy who knew my husband from swim team. The way his eyes desperately scanned the room as he shouted some conversation about what elementary school his kids attend made me worry that he was actually going to grab the next passer-by and beg them to rescue him from this conversation. I imagined myself gently taking him by the hand and saying:
“We are only standing here together because my husband, WHO WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS LATER, wandered off in the middle of the conversation, leaving us to fend for ourselves. I realize that these initial efforts at chit-chat have exposed the fact that we have absolutely nothing in common, and that you wanted to talk to my husband and not me anyway. I want you to know that I am OK with that. Ah, I see that the DJ just put on Young MC’s Bust a Move, and even seems to have turned up the volume for the occasion. Why don’t we just sit here quietly and enjoy the 80’s-themed ambiance together?”
That little speech would have undoubtedly brought the guy great relief, but he probably would have only heard every third word over the music anyway.
The one highlight of the evening was seeing how much everyone adored my husband. I had forgotten that he was voted Most Popular out of his class of 600+ people, and had a reputation for being a very smart, fun, kind person. After the umpteenth person came up to grab him by the arm and gush something like, “It is SOOO good to see you! I remember you so well from high school: you were as humble as you were brilliant. I’ll never forget how much you helped me when I was struggling in [name of class they shared together], ” I couldn’t help but contrasting that to the reactions I would undoubtedly get if I were to attend my own high school reunion. After musing about it for a while, I decided that the top five reactions to my attendance at a high school reunion would be:
- “You’re still alive?”
- “Why are you here? Did you lose a bet?”
- “Your hair is so different! It’s not green or blue or purple anymore.”
- “Is that you, Jen? I didn’t recognize you without a disdainful scowl on your face!”
- “I remember the last time we talked you were saying how much you hated this town, this school, this class and you were lamenting the difficulty of being surrounded by such a bunch of conservative, religious fools. So what’s new?”
As you can guess, being voted Most Popular in our high school class is not something my husband and I have in common.
My envy for people whose spouses were homeschooled reached an apex as I sat next to the bar, mercifully alone, and tried to figure out whether I thought the moves of the alumni on the dance floor were more offensive or intriguing. Just then one of our acquaintances walked up to say hello, a guy I’ve met on a few other occasions. When he got closer I saw by the look in his slightly bloodshot eyes that the beer he was holding was probably not his first (or his second, third, fourth or fifth). He made a sweeping motion towards the crowd in front of us, and announced, “I’ve ****** every chick here” (“******” being a vulgar colloquialism referring to intimate relations). And the conversation went downhill from there.
I believe that that was the exact moment when I gave up on trying to see this event as a mission to spread the Good News. Against the backdrop of Aerosmith and Debbie Gibson, I pondered once again the notion that every moment is an opportunity to do God’s will. As our acquaintance informed me that he was “totally f****** shredding fools” in some MySpace-reated competition, just as a couple almost stumbled into us when their grinding dance moves left them off balance, I realized that this was an opportunity to accept on faith that this is true. With my limited human intellect, it may be tempting to think that the inanity of this moment overpowered even God’s ability to use this situation for his glory, and yet my faith tells me that that’s not the case. Though I might not see how, I do believe that God can ultimately use all moments for his glory, even when those moments involve drunken proclamations, freaky dancefloor escapades, and have loud 80’s music blaring in the background.
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