Just Visiting: 10 Year Reunion

I’m sure everyone’s reunion is weird. My class of 1995 didn’t have one. SteelBuddha’s class of 1995 did, however, and it was last Saturday. It is weird in a different way to be a participant in the current life colliding with the past life.

I am a glitchy person. I am not so bad when I don’t care, but when it is important to me to make a good impression (whether or not I know why I want to make a good impression or whether or not I should care) I become a dork. I’m sure everyone feels the same way, except for those who don’t (you cocky bastards).

I was fortunate enough to have the mutual support of Sixpence, whose husband was in SB’s class. She knew a few more people than I because she came from their college era, which had mild high school carryover, whereas I was post-college, at which point high school relationships are solidified or severed… mostly severed.

I was happy to meet Don, who I had heard about on many occassions. I also briefly met Kreg, who was an important character, but there is drama there, so I didn’t really say much. Met Joe, who had been SB’s friend since elementary school. Met his first real girlfriend, if that’s not nerve-wracking enough on its own (though she reminded me of my aunt). And so on…

I have weird issues. I like positive attention but I hate negative attention. So if I don’t look good, I don’t want to be seen. If I don’t dance well, I want to stand off to the side and chat. If I don’t have anyone to chat with, I want to look like it doesn’t bother me. If I have someone to chat with, I want to be interesting and cool. This doesn’t usually work out in my favor. But at the same time, it’s probably worse in my head.

Issue #1: The Hulk. I am a bit of a hulk. Since high school, I’ve been busting my clothes and such inadvertently. So at the reunion, I jokingly did a headbang, flexed my neck and bust my very cute choker (I am a big fan of chokers because my neck is one of my more feminie features… but not when I hulk out.) I also made a lame joke about “Sweet Home Alabama” making the redneck in me want to start a fight. Semi-uncomfortable dancey scenerios tend to make me a bit punchy, literally. My ex used to call me a brute, and I don’t think he was entirely wrong. (Could it it stem from my bulkiness and anger issues?)
Issue #2: Dancing. I like to dance somewhat. But I don’t really know how. I can jump around or headbang or mosh or even fake a few very passe’ steps from 1990. But I can’t “club” dance; you know, that dance chicks do to pretend like don’t realize they are swerving their goodies around. I taken some lessons in bellydancing, so I can almost fake goody-shaking, but it still looks slightly more like folk dancing than anything cool.

So here’s the thing. I have rhythm. I really do. I just don’t have moves. I’m very much a left-right-left-right marcher. But dancing can be more complex than that. Don was sweet enough to pull me out on the dancefloor (as a let’s-be-friends gesture) to swing. He’s actually taught some dancing, so he was patient. I am not very good at being led; I am somewhat rigid and have a difficult time connecting and reading the lead. I can pick up a repeated movement fairly easily, but if you change things up, I get caught up on myself. So when Don would try to spin me, I would go the wrong way or the foam rubber soles of my shoes would stick solid to the floor, so I’d have to pick my feet up in a sort of skamper to make it around in a circle. Anyway, I was somewhat worried about looking silly, but even more worried that my nervousness would make Don feel weird. I certainly didn’t want to leave a negative impression on him

Issue #3: Image. Like every woman (whether you want to admit it or not) I want to be attractive. Of course, I want to be attractive to my mate, but there is also the need for a positive self-image. I’ve been working on that for a long time, and it’s still not up to snuff. But hints of feedback, though not specifically solicited, help. So attempting to look good and present oneself well is stage one toward *knowing* you make good impression.

Anyway, I like having a somewhat unique style and yet I don’t want to be a freak. That’s a difficult balance. If I were unique and smooth, that would be one thing. But I’m pretty much a goober. Once you get to know me, I suppose it can be endearing, but it’s not the first thing you want everyone to think about you. At the same time, I don’t really want to be known only for having dyed hair. But in brief superficial encounters such as this, it’s hard to have anything else more defining than unnatural hair. And what would I want people to remember, if not my hair? I suppose it’s better than being a goober, or a hulk, or a lame dancer. It’s a tough one, because if you bring up “good” things about you, you sound like you’re bragging. I could’ve said “I own a kick-ass store” but it seemed cheesy or cocky or too me-centric. I was easier to say “I am a grad student” because it gives the impression that education is important to me and either explains or contradicts my appearance in a potentially interesting way. School seems like more of an accomplishment and you don’t have to explain it to death; people understand what a student is and yet they don’t know enough of the details to seem boring.

So, this didn’t really say much about the reunion, mostly about the innerworkings of a reunion attendee. I have to address one more thing though…

Issue #4: Female pettiness. I did suffer from this at one point or another. A comment made by Sixpence rubbed me the wrong way and I was bitchy in return. Six was enjoying the fact that her dieting is paying off. She made a comment about people looking at her, which is my broken brain seems like something you don’t say out loud. So I made a comment about it being her spike heels and fishnets (because when she made the comment, a guy at the table we were passing was looking at her boots). Now, of course every chick there wanted to be noticed; I could’ve worn a jogging suit, but no, I tried on several outfits and eventually bought a cute sundress from the mall. I just take it the wrong way when something like that is brought up because it seems like comparison or bragging or something when that isn’t necessarily the case. And in my under-developed positive self-image, someone talking themselves up translates directly to talking me down. Female pettiness. Is it genetic or just socially ingrained from a young age?

Now I may come off as a hypocrite, and maybe I am, but there are so many levels and stipulations and complexities in the female psyche that make us ridiculous creatures. Talking about everything we do to look the way we do is expected; it’s a bonding thing for gals to talk about all the crap they go through to meet some randomly-assigned standards. Talking about “how good you look” is fine; talking about “how good we look” is good; talking about “how good I look” is a pettiness trigger. Talking about how “those guys are checking you out” is fine; talking about how “those guys are checking us out” is good; talking about how “those guys are checking me out” is a pettiness trigger. Confidence needs to be expressed in a non-confrontational, non-competetive way and, ideally, inspires confidence in others. How does one differentiate between “I have a postive self-image” and “I am better than you.” It’s a woman’s lot to love and hate. This is not meant to offend anyone at all. And not to single anyone out. I used an example to explain how messed up it is, and I’m darn near positive it’s not just me. I’m just saying it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not oblivious. Sure I dye my hair because it gives me a boost of self-esteem, but I am also aware that it can draw attention. Not that I always want it to. Most of the time, I just want people to shut up about it; my hair is for me dammit, because I like it. And I’m sure on more than one occassion another lady has thought about me- “Look at her, trying so hard to get everyone to notice her.” Now this is double-edged. First, that other woman is poo-poo-ing my attempt at attention. Second, that other woman is jealous that something is drawing attention away from her. This is how it is. What makes us care so much? Even the “I don’t care” attitude is a way to draw attention. It’s crazy. I can’t even explain it.

Well, this turned into a freakin’ sermon. And it’s not like it’s something that contunually bothers me. It just came up because I felt guilty about being bitchy when someone was feeling good about themselves.

3 Comments

  1. SixPence says:

    As an additional illustration on your point – my comment actually stemmed from the fact that the people looking at me felt really hostile and they were making me seriously paranoid in a “Crap, do I have toilet paper on my shoe or a big makeup smudge on my face?” kind of way as opposed to having anything to do with my weight loss. I just had to laugh at how caught up all girls get in their own personal esteem issues.

  2. SixPence says:

    Oh also – don’t feel guilty! Your comment was so subtle in your bitchiness that I didn’t even catch it. I thought it was a logical suggestion. 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    Lemme just say, you and Six were easily the kick-assinest girls there. I loved meeting you both…and I hope we have occasion to cross paths again. (And you are right…Don is an amazing (and forgiving) dance partner.)

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