My 10-year high school reunion is rapidly approaching, and like writer Andrea Wachner, I have no interest in attending. In my case, I'll probably just skip it. Wachner, however, had a different way of dealing.
Wachner, class of 1995, decided that instead of returning to her high school, which she notes was "a pressure cooker," filled with eating disorders, drugs, drinking, and academic competition ( like every other high school), decided she'd send a representative on her behalf—a stripper she hired to assume her identity and shock her former classmates. Wachner "coached" her impersonator throughout the night, watching the scene unfold via hidden camera. She's made a 40-minute documentary on the experience that may never be shown, as getting approval from her former classmates has been (understandably) tough: "There have been a few people that were pretty vitriolic, and I have received some angry letters," Wachner says. You think?
Now, look. High school was not a good time for me. I had a few good friends that I still speak to on occasion, but otherwise, high school was a rather depressing period in my life that I'd rather not revisit. However, I am well aware that some of my friends really loved high school and are excited about catching up with former classmates, and if that's their thing, then good on them. I hope they have a really great time (and also I hope they fill me in on the gossip, naturally). There's no need for me to be a total asshole and ruin their party. If you're still nursing wounds from high school 10 years later, it's probably time to move on and realize that nobody can force you to be the person you were back then, and that you're not obligated to stay connected to that time in any way.
Wachner says she wasn't trying to make her classmates feel stupid, but rather wanted to see what would happen if her "drama geek" persona returned 10 years later as an exotic dancer. "I love taking things that exist in the world as given — things that are mainstream, notions that people take for granted — and making people re-think them," she says.
Here's my issue with this: I was also a geek in high school. And when I was in high school, I also fantasized about returning 10 years later as a glam rock star type. "Look at me now," I'd say, "I no longer cry in the art hallway, writing bad poetry and listening to The Smiths! I'm a SUCCESS!" But as I grew up and away from high school, I recognized that who I was back then, while super emo and ridiculous, was just a stupid step to becoming who I am now. I don't really care anymore about high school or the people in it; I don't feel the pull to prove anything to anyone as much I just feel a disconnect from the whole thing.
Because really? People don't care. They don't care! They probably don't even remember that you were the drama geek in high school. They have their own lives, their own families, their own stories to tell. And they don't really deserve to be set-up or humiliated just because you have some high school revenge fantasy that you've chosen to film for the whole world to see. And not only that, but pulling a stunt like this works under the assumption that you are the only person who has changed since high school; there are plenty of former bullies, nerds, drama queens, mean girls, and wallflowers who arrive at these functions as completely different people—and they do it just by showing up and being themselves. Perhaps for the 20th reunion, Wachner can attempt to do the same.