Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Reunion

In my "perfect dream history", I went the picture perfect high school, where I was cool and popular and everybody was pretty and the boys were cool and we all got good grades and it was an ace time and everything was just peachy keen.

In reality I went to Willunga High in the early eighties. It was a school fed by the outer suburbs of Adelaide and the Southern Adelaide Hills. There were the pretty girls and cool guys, but most of the rag tag bunch were separated from what they wore - either a Ford or Holden jacket - and never the twain should meet. Smile spray on jeans, flourescent socks, Adidas Romes (white with blue bands on them), clearasil, desert boots and squeaky sandals and long curly perms on the girls. Most boys had a mullet of some description. The cool kids smoked on the oval or made out in the scrub near the student's car park. The school had one of the worst academic records in the state, and my year, the last year of Matriculation in South Australia, was known as the worst of the worst.

I really don't remember much about high school, though I can still recite the first twenty elements of the periodic table of elements. School gave me passable French that I still use, a love of Shakespeare and writing and I'm the person who splits the bill at the end of the night as my maths is pretty good.

My high school self was a whole different kettle of worms. At school I was the weird girl, the chubby girl, the badly dressed uncool girl who made her own clothes. I don't have any lasting friends from high school, though with the joy of Facebook I've reconnected with a few people. I don't remember being bullied - I know I was teased a lot, but I let it run over me and the bullies gave up. I do remember my final two years were better than the first three. Being fairly academic, I got to hide behind my books and I know I saw a lot of the library. I was bad at sport and good at everything but Physics - but how are you supposed to learn from a yeti is what I have to say about that last point.

Not the best of times really.

The other week, once again through the joys of Facebook, I was invited to a high school reunion. And after laughing and saying a resounding "NO WAY!" the invite got sent to the bin and I went on with things.

One of my favourite films is Grosse Point Blank. John Cusack, playing a hired assassin, goes back to his high school reunion. He makes a pertinent comment - it's like everybody's exploded. Everybody's fatter, balder and nothing like you though they would be like. Maybe that last point is a reason to stick my head in the door.

I've often made the harsh comment about the folk I went to school with. "I'm a minority because at forty I've never been to prison and I'm not a grandmother". It's a bit harsh. There are some good people out there, I'm sure - but I don't think I have anything in common with them. I know when I escaped to university there was no going back - only a handful of the 100 year twelve students went on to tertiary education. I only go back to see my mother once or twice a year.

Twenty-five years on, I do ponder the thought of going back to meet my old high school compatriots, but what would it acheive? The last thing I would want to do is stand there and go. "Err, well, I work in Telecommunications after years in Investment Banking, I've lived all over the world, I'm unmarried and childless and I live in Melbourne. I do long distance running - attempting a marathon in October. I don't own property. I have a really good salary. I speak three languages." What would the plumbers and small business owners and stay at home Mums say to that? Saying that twenty times over sounds fun...not. Lots of people would say "Who are you?"

And I go straight back to chubby weird girl mode and I want to crawl back under a rock.

Funny how one little email can stir all of this up.



Kath Lockett said...

You are a brilliant writer, Pandora and your reminiscences of high schoola are eerily familiar...

Pandora Behr said...

Wasn't hight school like this for everybody? I take that as a huge compliment coming from you - you write amazing stuff.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes..I was there then. Im also a single professional who speaks another language and lived overseas. I went to the reunion...not one person from my leaving year was there. I agree with this blog except for one thing...bullying and harrassment was rampant. There were dakkings. I have a scar on my neck from that school. Some fantastic teachers though.

Jaq said...

Do I dare confess that I too went to Willunga High during the eighties? It was a distinctly interesting experience if you didn't fit in - at least I had a good group of friends who I still keep in contact with.