On Partying with the High School Crowd

What do you think these guys did when they ran into each other at a bar six years later?

But not really. I can count on one hand three fingers the number of people I have been in regular contact with from high school. Of course, I’m friends with 50 or so of them on Facebook, but when you actually run into them at a bar and are in face-to-face contact, the feeling is more along the lines of “oh God, do I really have to interact with them?” than “hooray, let’s catch up on the last six years!”

I mean, I don’t want to sound like a snob, but I dread those awkward conversations that sum up the last few years of your life to people who, most likely, have very little interest (unless, of course, the events have been tragic). I haven’t lived in my hometown since I graduated from high school in 2005. Aside from the month-long summer vacation visits or the few weeks during the holidays, I have been solidly gone for the last six years.

So now that I’m working downtown and running into a few people, I’m starting to worry about the etiquette of running into long-lost acquaintances.

The other night I went out to the bar (which is a rarity) and it was as if my entire high school graduating class had suddenly re-emerged in that particular place. A musician was playing and the bar was packed, so it was ridiculously noisy — not the ideal environment for these conversations to begin with. I was with my sister, so we kind of just chose a corner and sat there to talk (as best we could). But was it rude to ignore these Facebook friends? If anyone caught my eye, I smiled. But they didn’t make a move to extend the contact beyond that point, so neither did I. In fact, the one person I literally ran into and did end up talking to (since I didn’t want to blatantly pretend I didn’t recognize her) kind of looked at me with the god this is awkward and I want to leave eyes. Or that could have just been the look in my eyes reflected in hers.

But seriously, what do you do in these situations? Generally speaking, the groups of former classmates were congregated into the same cliques they belonged to in high school — cliques that I didn’t belong to then and honestly have no desire to join now. Am I supposed to nudge my way into these groups of friends and announce my presence? Or is it perfectly acceptable to hang back and only interact if forced (even if you have been following all the uncomfortable details of their recent relationship problems via their news feed)? I mean, I can guess it’s not appropriate to bring that up, but are you supposed to play dumb?

These online network groups have changed relationships dramatically, I think. Whereas in the past you could have honestly pled ignorance about the personal dramas these people have gone through in the six years since we walked at graduation together, now that you are able to follow — in graphic detail if they want — everything, what do you do? How do you interact with someone you could know intimately and yet never talk to? Particularly if that someone doesn’t know nearly as much about you?

Just a few questions on my mind.

And as for my way of handling the situation: I drank a bit too much at the bar in an attempt to banish the awkwardness and, in my eagerness to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich once home (with this ah-maying jam my sister bought when she was out in Amish country), ended up with big splotches of jam on my favorite dress (which I didn’t discover until I woke up the next morning, apparently after sleeping in my clothes). I also called Joery and refused to put the phone down because “I missed him too much”. I’m pretty sure Skype disconnected it after I drained my account of funds. But don’t worry, the stains came out. And luckily, all the embarrassing stuff didn’t happen until safely at home, which is the kind of drunk you want to get when around people you haven’t seen in years.

 

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