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Jul, 2010

We Partied Like It Was 1990... Sans Hair

Dorky enough for ya? One of the BEST days of my life! FREEDOM!

Last weekend, I attended my 20th high school reunion in Excelsior, MN. I graduated from Minnetonka High School in 1990 and let’s just get the unpleasantries out of the way right now. No, I did not enjoy my high school experience very much. In fact, I was dying to get out of this school and lived for my escape to college on the East coast.

This is not to say that I didn’t have some wonderful friends – some of whom I’m still good friends with today – and even received a top notch education there. Academically, it was an excellent public school and even though I didn’t crack a book or earn an A while I was there, I did actually learn something. For instance, see what a fabulous writer I am now? (Just don’t ask me what X equals. I still don’t know.)

Minnetonka was a “good” school because it was in an upper class suburb. What I have learned time and time again since then is that “good” schools are often full of “bad” kids. There was an amazing sense of entitlement amongst the kids at Minnetonka High School and I don’t imagine it’s too different today. The disparities between the categories of kids (jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, headbangers, geeks, etc) were abysmal. I know these “classes” of popularity exist at any school, but they were extra special lame as shit at my school. 

One very popular girl who sat right next to me in a class day after day, never once said a word to me until she saw me driving a red convertible home one afternoon. The next day, she said, “I saw you leaving the parking lot yesterday. You have a really nice car.” I said, “Oh it’s my mom’s.” She said, “Oh.” And she never spoke to me again. We were sixteen. You see, if you didn’t drive a car to school after you turned 16… LOSER. We had a two page, color spread in our senior yearbook dedicated to students’ cars. No, really. It was a snotty school with its fair share of mean kids.

I was one of those mid-level floaters. I had friends all over the place – jocks, brains, music nerds, art geeks, cheerleaders – but my closest friends were the brains. The over achievers. Why? I still don’t know to this day. The only thing I can come up with is that maybe I thought hanging around the kids who cared a lot about their grades would somehow make up for my lack of effort. I was that kid who never studied, never listened or took notes and then would get a decent enough grade on the tests to pass the class. I turned in about 3/4 of my assignments. I never did extra credit. I just. Didn’t. Care.

I never went to a school dance. I didn’t go on a date until college. I only did three extracurricular activities my entire four years there (Madrigals, women’s quartet and cross country skiing. I was horrible at the latter but it was the genesis of a lifelong love/hate relationship with running as there was no snow the year I joined.)

I was one of a very small group of ethnic minorities in our school. There were some ESL students who weren’t mainstreamed in our classes and there were a few other Asian kids, a few Jewish kids, there was one girl who was half black and… well that was it out of 450 in our class. I felt like an outsider and dreaded going there every day. I didn’t have a super happy family life at the time and if it hadn’t been for my closest friends, I don’t think I would have made it through.

Some of my besties!

One would think that a student of this ilk would be somewhat bitter about their high school years but it’s soooo far in the past now. Like, um, 20 years. WHAAA?!! Enough water has gone under the bridge and at our reunion, I was pleased to find that the people from Minnetonka’s class of 1990 have grown up into lovely adults. At least the ones who came to the reunion. I’m guesstimating (don’t you hate that word?) far less than half of our class showed.

I’ve known both of these people since elementary school!

The most interesting part of the reunion was hearing what people were doing with their lives. There were some surprises, but most were typical. And I mean that in a good way. I guess what I’m getting at is the people who you thought were so much prettier than you, smarter than you, more popular than you, or whatever – well, 20 years later they’re mostly all collecting a paycheck, raising kids, putting on bigger clothes, combing fewer hairs on their heads – and in this case, seemed a little more down to earth than maybe they were as a teenager. I can only hope they are raising their kids to be a little kinder and gentler as well.

I’m glad I went. I can’t say the prime rib buffet, cash bar and Target bakery cupcakes with blue frosting ‘M’s were worth the $50, but seeing some people from my past as actual people for the first time was. And I stole two dozen cupcakes on my way out the door. So it’s all good.

The Sweet Taste of Reunion

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