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High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-15-2006, 02:33 AM   #1
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High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

The Bald and the Beautiful
by Barbara Quick

What surprised me most about going to my 20th high school reunion was how good the women looked while so many of the men showed their age.

After hearing the same observation repeated by others returning from their school reunions, I grew suspicious.

The wrinkle fairy does not discriminate between genders. Nor does the patron saint of thickened waistlines. For every balding, potbellied man on the street there is an age-marked female counterpart.

What I realized when I applied myself to the conundrum of the reunion is that most of the women who don't look good don't go, whereas the men aren't aware of whether they look good or not. Thus we walk away with the illusion that the men have aged, while the women, magically, have been preserved in all their youthful glory.

For a female en route to meet her classmates of yesteryear, looking good is the best revenge, especially if she hadn't yet come into her own when those pert, blond cheerleaders were at their peak. There can be tremendous satisfaction in knowing that you've ripened rather than gone to seed.

For the men the reunion can come as a rude awakening. "Who are those middle-aged men?" they think as they cast their eyes about the room, looking at each other in disbelief, their smiles frozen on their faces.
The men haven't been looking faithfully, dutifully, despairingly in the mirror several times a day for the past 20 years. When they do look in a mirror, they are focussed on the region of their jaw — and their reason for looking has more to do with safety than vanity.

If a middle-aged man does catch sight of himself in a full-length mirror or shop window, he's 99.9 percent sure to suck in his gut in a panic of optimism, sigh ever so softly, and then turn away. He doesn't dwell on the shock or disappointment of reality's report card.

He doesn't go out and buy expensive cosmetics or vow to start wearing sunscreen every day. He's able to shake off the vision and go back to thinking of himself as once again possessed of an 18-year-old's body and skin.

A woman, on the other hand, has better than 20/20 vision when it comes to reality in all its fabulous detail. She cannot ignore an overflowing wastebasket or a sink full of dirty dishes, the fact that her child's diaper has absorbed as much pee as it possibly can, or the bit of rice pilaf that manages to stick, through the entire dessert course, on the Velcro of her husband's jaw.

Perhaps because of her enhanced powers of perception, she experiences life more richly and fully than her mate does. But he is not assaulted as she is at every turn by all the parts of life that need fixing. He can relax with ease whereas she can only relax when she is asleep, unconscious or dead.

I think I'd like to start acting more like a man in this regard. I want to go to my next reunion, if I go at all, in utter innocence, with no ax to grind and no point to prove. Let me be as surprised as a virgin having sex for the first time. And then let me put my shattered illusions on a shelf deep inside me, where they can be woven over with the webs of memory and imagination.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-15-2006, 02:51 AM   #2
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

Quote:
Originally Posted by boont
The Bald and the Beautiful
by Barbara Quick

What surprised me most about going to my 20th high school reunion was how good the women looked while so many of the men showed their age.

After hearing the same observation repeated by others returning from their school reunions, I grew suspicious.

The wrinkle fairy does not discriminate between genders. Nor does the patron saint of thickened waistlines. For every balding, potbellied man on the street there is an age-marked female counterpart.

What I realized when I applied myself to the conundrum of the reunion is that most of the women who don't look good don't go, whereas the men aren't aware of whether they look good or not. Thus we walk away with the illusion that the men have aged, while the women, magically, have been preserved in all their youthful glory.

For a female en route to meet her classmates of yesteryear, looking good is the best revenge, especially if she hadn't yet come into her own when those pert, blond cheerleaders were at their peak. There can be tremendous satisfaction in knowing that you've ripened rather than gone to seed.

For the men the reunion can come as a rude awakening. "Who are those middle-aged men?" they think as they cast their eyes about the room, looking at each other in disbelief, their smiles frozen on their faces.
The men haven't been looking faithfully, dutifully, despairingly in the mirror several times a day for the past 20 years. When they do look in a mirror, they are focussed on the region of their jaw — and their reason for looking has more to do with safety than vanity.

If a middle-aged man does catch sight of himself in a full-length mirror or shop window, he's 99.9 percent sure to suck in his gut in a panic of optimism, sigh ever so softly, and then turn away. He doesn't dwell on the shock or disappointment of reality's report card.

He doesn't go out and buy expensive cosmetics or vow to start wearing sunscreen every day. He's able to shake off the vision and go back to thinking of himself as once again possessed of an 18-year-old's body and skin.

A woman, on the other hand, has better than 20/20 vision when it comes to reality in all its fabulous detail. She cannot ignore an overflowing wastebasket or a sink full of dirty dishes, the fact that her child's diaper has absorbed as much pee as it possibly can, or the bit of rice pilaf that manages to stick, through the entire dessert course, on the Velcro of her husband's jaw.

Perhaps because of her enhanced powers of perception, she experiences life more richly and fully than her mate does. But he is not assaulted as she is at every turn by all the parts of life that need fixing. He can relax with ease whereas she can only relax when she is asleep, unconscious or dead.

I think I'd like to start acting more like a man in this regard. I want to go to my next reunion, if I go at all, in utter innocence, with no ax to grind and no point to prove. Let me be as surprised as a virgin having sex for the first time. And then let me put my shattered illusions on a shelf deep inside me, where they can be woven over with the webs of memory and imagination.
Wow! Good stuff. Just a couple of quickies from someone who has made it to every high school reunion save one (45th coming next year). I know of several
women who either opted not to attend because they felt they wouldn't
measure up, or took draconian measures to improve themselves
pruor to the big event. In a couple of cases the transformation was
truly amazing which I view as a good thing, regardless of their motivation.

I am as vain as any woman. OTOH, I look good (yes, I do have full length
mirrors) and having been voted the most successful member of my class
(small school) way back in my prime, I really must show up to assure
my well-deserved position in the high school pecking order. Doubt I will
ever just stay home, although the surgeon's knife may be utilized at some point.

JG
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-15-2006, 11:41 AM   #3
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

Quote:
Originally Posted by boont
What surprised me most about going to my 20th high school reunion was how good the women looked while so many of the men showed their age.
Another vote here agreeing with you.

At my 20th and 25th reunions I was very surprised at how good many of the women
looked, and how middleaged all of the guys looked. I had not taken survivorship
bias in the sample pool into account.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-15-2006, 11:42 AM   #4
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

Quote:
Originally Posted by boont
For a female en route to meet her classmates of yesteryear, looking good is the best revenge, especially if she hadn't yet come into her own when those pert, blond cheerleaders were at their peak. There can be tremendous satisfaction in knowing that you've ripened rather than gone to seed.
That's so high school.

I'm beginning to appreciate why ours didn't have a 25th... maybe there'll be a 30th.

When I was in college the annual alumni dinner was held in our mess hall-- seating for approx 4500. The main wing was about 100' wide and hundreds of feet long with tables on both sides of a center aisle. The alumni were seated by class year so as you came in the door and walked down the long tables you'd start with the latest graduating class (people you knew) and then you'd walk the timeline. By the time you got to the other end of the hall the diners were in their 90s. Quite a glimpse of your future.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-15-2006, 01:45 PM   #5
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

Last week was DWs 40th high school reunion. I had missed mine the week before, I don't have much interest. There are exactly two people I would like to see beyond curiosity and I knew neither of them would be there. Now my wife went into slam convention; diet, bought clothes, kind of told me what to wear : but it turned out to be great for her. Saw lots of her old friends, looked at pictures, sang old songs, had too much wine and just a great time. I even met a couple interesting spouses. We are now on a more active email connection with a couple of the couples, we'll see it this "sticks". It is amazing how different people looked, I would never have assumed that these folks were from the same year.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-15-2006, 07:33 PM   #6
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

I just this afternoon got home from my 40th high school reunion. I have to agree with prior posters about the difference in aging between the sexes. The men, without a single exception, looked about 10 years older than the oldest looking woman there. Many of the ladies looked 10 years younger.

I had a great time, although I was barely able to put two names with faces. My very best friend from high school, whom I had not seen in about 25 years, was there, and we had a great time catching up with each other, and vowing to stay in touch this time! The internet makes that so much easier.

My husband had a great time looking through the memorabilia and finding references to (and pictures of) me. That was in between his numerous trips to the sports bar down the hall to check up on the Florida/Auburn football game.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-15-2006, 10:26 PM   #7
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
That's so high school.

. By the time you got to the other end of the hall the diners were in their 90s. Quite a glimpse of your future.
You hope!
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 03:55 AM   #8
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

The best was a website had a reunion locally for for all of us who grew up in a certain area in brooklyn.

So here we are a bunch of guys who havent seen each other in 35 years.

Now you guys can relate to the next part: You know how as a teenager there were always some girls that hung around with you that no one would admit they were ever with. They were huge or ugly but as teenagers growing up anything with a pulse was fair game right?

So one guy goes, guys i got to admit it, i was with big bonnie, another guy goes yeah me too , one by one we are all fessing up..

Then one guy goes you know guys for 35 years its been bothering me, i was trying to do bonnie from behind and it wouldnt reach, was it me?

one by one all us guys are going ooooh man me too. ha ha ha ha
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 06:05 AM   #9
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

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Originally Posted by mathjak107


Now you guys can relate to the next part: You know how as a teenager there were always some girls that hung around with you that no one would admit they were ever with. They were huge or ugly but as teenagers growing up anything with a pulse was fair game right?

Not for me. They always had to look good although I do confess a couple of times
I let a couple slip by my radar that were not deep thinkers.

An aside. I never dated a girl from my own class in high school.
I call it the "Icarus effect". They were flying too close to the sun.

JG

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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 11:45 AM   #10
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gail
I just this afternoon got home from my 40th high school reunion. I have to agree with prior posters about the difference in aging between the sexes. The men, without a single exception, looked about 10 years older than the oldest looking woman there. Many of the ladies looked 10 years younger.
It is common for men to marry women 5 -10 years younger than themselves. If attendees are bringing spouses this may be a side effect.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 12:00 PM   #11
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

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If attendees are bringing spouses this may be a side effect.
I should have clarified that my observation was about my actual classmates, not spouses.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 12:41 PM   #12
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

I had my 35th high school reunion this year, but did not attend. I opted to go with my daughter to her fiance's Navy boot camp graduation instead. I must be part of the women that don't look great don't go to reunions group. I have been to a couple of them and I do hope to go to the next one. I don't look great, but think that I look my age and that is okay with me. I have accepted the fact that I am no longer 20 and will never look that way again!
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 01:55 PM   #13
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

As mentioned on the book post: I just finished Nora Ephron's new book. One of her theories is that women 40-60 look so much younger these days due to hair dye. Not only are more women dying their hair, but it is of better quality. So, if the women are dying and the men aren't that could be a difference right there.

Plus, it is a biological fact that testosterone is stressful for the body. I guess in addition to more heart attacks, etc. it ages men as well.

Plus, in our society men just don't have to try as hard to keep their looks. They are judged mainly on different criteria.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 02:10 PM   #14
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

I've been to all my high school reunions, (every 5 years-did the 35th year 3 years ago). Thinking back on it, I always visualize everybody as they looked in high school, not as they looked at the reunion--and I did the last reunion sober. Best story--When they send out announcements they send a sheet to fill out about your history--married, jobs, kids, blah, blah, blah. There was a girl who definitely was not popular ( her father and my father worked at the local factory together). Anyway, she had a bad reputation do to some bizarre sexual exploits that I always discredited). So she doesn't attend, but sent in the questionairre---she became an accountant for a large firm, traveled the world over, made a fortune and was retired. I always thought that was so neat---kind of telling us where to stick it for how she had been treated in high school. Side note--at all the reunions, I always make it a point to go around and greet everyone there and ask how they're doing, etc. Still remember how cliquey high school was and have noticed at the reunions how some try to perpetuate this myth.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 02:16 PM   #15
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

I went to my 5 year and haven't attended one since. 35th is coming up next year, I'll probably skip that one too unless someone convinces me I should go. Even at the 5 year it was amazing to see the men that had already gone bald or changed beyond recognition.
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 02:18 PM   #16
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

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Originally Posted by donheff
It is common for men to marry women 5 -10 years younger than themselves. If attendees are bringing spouses this may be a side effect.
I volunteered at a 50th reunion and the spouses looked a lot younger than the men. Suspiciously so!
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 02:22 PM   #17
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

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I volunteered at a 50th reunion and the spouses looked a lot younger than the men. Suspiciously so!
Trophy wives?
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 02:34 PM   #18
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

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Trophy wives?
Many. Some not much older than me.

No doubt with survivor's benefits...
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 02:49 PM   #19
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

I went to my 10th HS reunion and did not enjoy myself at all. Everyone seemed to be saying “Look how well I’m doing...” It was so bad I could hardly get anyone to listen to all my accomplishments.

Didn’t return again until the 25th, and had so much fun I’ve attended every reunion since. My theory is by the time many people reach their 50’s they are at the ‘what you see is what you get’ stage, and no longer spend much time trying to impress others with what they’ve done in life. We seemed to focus on having a good time and telling lies incorrectly recalling past events.

Now that I think about it, maybe that says more about me than it does about my classmates. But whatever, I’ve had a great time at each reunion and so have many others. We even have an informal annual get-together in the non-reunion years…it’s coming up this weekend.


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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions
Old 10-16-2006, 03:15 PM   #20
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Re: High School Reunions & Shattered Illusions

Hmmm

At my 45th last summer - to me the men looked younger, the college grads being slimmer and the most fit.

The hottest women in my class were mostly those still working - the retired and doting grandmothers let it all hang out.

An exception here and there - but just my view.

heh heh heh heh heh - of course us men may generally not see ourself's ages very well.
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