Meet old friends!
I’ve never been invited to a school one and the only church reunion I ever attended was focussed on ex-members who had been part of the congregation 50 years before. I was 23 so no memories needed reviving.
The complex mind
But I have often wondered about the psychology of such events. Now, I’m certainly no expert on human thought, so I’d really value your opinion.
Who’s worn well?
I think that, deep down, we are all the same aren’t we? What person wouldn’t be intrigued to know who’s going to be attending this gathering? “Have they worn well…compared to me? Have they had a successful life…compared to me?”
I wonder if the women will be contemplating who has put more weight on. Before the get-together, will they be desperately searching through their closets to find the outfit that will be most flattering to their figure?
What rung are you on?
Will the men be nervously thinking about how they are going to explain their careers? Those who are still in the same job maybe trying to justify their position, especially if it’s not yet managerial.
How’s your motor?
And the cars. When they all pull into the parking lot, how proud will they be feeling about their motor? What if they don’t have one? What does that say about how their life has panned out?
What if there was a nagging feeling of femininity arising from deep within that he could no longer push down and hide? Shall he tell them that his lifetime partner is the same sex as him? Will they notice without him having to tell them, owing to his effeminate manner and awkwardness around females and tough guys? How can he explain that much of how he is today stems from those childhood traumas that are still kept hidden from the world? Would they even want to listen? Probably not.
What? No bloke? No kids?
Person A. The woman who is still single and approaching 40 may have similar thoughts going round her head. How does she justify not settling down? Nothing to show for her life but her job? Should she pretend she doesn’t care about children anyway? Should she make an extra effort to look attractive so not to give the impression that it’s a bad appearance that’s kept the men away? Does she need to make it clear she’s not a lesbian? What if she hates her job? Any why is she working in a grocery store if she’s had nothing to stop her climbing the corporate ladder? Does that mean her life sucks and does it force her to exaggerate her love for her existing hobby?
Look at me. I did alright.
We all do it. We all want to impress the world. The world who once knew us. We want people to think we have had it all together and have made the most of our lives.
But things don’t always turn out the way we plan or hope, do they?
Person B. Some, although curious about how others ‘turned out’, may decline the invite because they are now divorced. Who wants folk to think we’ve failed?
Hey fatty tum tum
Person C. But what if we turn up to the reunion and there’s an old acquaintance who has ballooned to double the size she was? Her once, shiny full head of hair is now lank, short and very thin.
Person D. What if the intelligent guy who took a managerial trainee course 20 years ago is still operating Till 5 in the DIY store?
Over here! Admire me!
Person E. Yes, you’re right, not everybody’s hesitant about showing their face. There is a lady who married her childhood sweetheart, had four kids and lives in a quiet well-sought-after suburb. She loves her part time job, has a full social life and in between her Zumba classes, Bingo, girls night out, and P.T.A. socials, happily drives the boys to diving lessons, one daughter to ballet and the other to the local fields to groom her horse.
Out comes the magnifying glass
Please come with me and let’s take a closer look:
Person A. All by myself
The single lady has had some great holidays. But everywhere she goes, she sees couples walking hand in hand down by the beach, kissing on the sand, laughing together at the bar. She could have anyone of course but she’s waiting. Not arrogantly waiting for Mr. Perfect, just waiting for God to bring the right man along her path. She’s not fussy, nor prudish, just obedient. She’s having a good time being single apart from when snide comments are made. Why should she go out, get herself pregnant and become another single mother just to prove she’s not gay? She was never academic so her school grades meant she had to work harder to get a decent job. She spent many years looking after her sick mother and now that she’s died, she has time to persue the career she wants. But that means college. Fees and text books cost money. That’s why she’s currently stacking shelves in the food store.
Person B. Defeated divorcee
Well the divorcee tried his best to keep his marriage together. For reasons which he does not want to reveal, it was necessary to part. It ripped his heart in two when he discovered that not only will he not see his precious three children at the breakfast table anymore, but on the days they come to visit he can’t really afford to take them anywhere because his child maintenance bill costs far more than a month’s grocery shopping did when the five of them lived together. It’s humiliating and makes him feel worthless. He doesn’t want to talk about that to people he’s not seen for decades.
Person C. Drowning in drugs
The large woman didn’t let herself go. She knows she is now officially classed as morbidly obese but it’s not her fault. No it’s not glandular, nor can she blame genetics, for her sister and brother are fairly slim. It’s the medication. She has to take 9 tablets a day and the side effects are awful. Every part of her feels swollen and the sadness of it all makes her feel low. Valley low. No mountains in sight, just food that she stuffs into her mouth to make herself feel better. It does work for a time but it also works on her body. But she didn’t ask to be struck down with a debilitating illness.
Person D. Stepping on gold
Many colleagues came into the job after him. They all are now managing their own staff. He’s under one of them. They got promotion because of their pushy, bossy manner. They climbed over everyone to get what they wanted. The executives noticed this and thought they’d make great people pushers. In reality, he would make a better manger than all of them. He is approachable, level headed and very gracious towards people. The executives saw this as weakness and assumed his peers would walk all over him. They didn’t realise they’d actually feel valued, encouraged and would learn to love the job more. They saw his integrity and mistook it for foolishness. He wasn’t shrewd enough for them. In reality, he would have boosted the company’s sales and enlarged it’s reputation. So, he is no wimp, just treating people right. Loyalty is looked down upon as non-ambitious. So it appears at first glance that he’d wasted his years on the shop floor. Some of the men at the reunion are like those managers. He knows this and shies away.
Person E. No Idea
So this leads us to the successful yummy mummy. She’s happy. Genuinely happy. Exhausted, but happy. Confused but pleased at her lot. Did you think I would have an opposite scenario?
It seems that what she doesn’t realise, is that she is the one most likely to judge the others. Not being able to see what fills in the blank years, makes her regard it all superficially. It’s not her fault. It’s called being human. What is sad about her life then? Oh, much. You see, she thinks it’s down to all her hard work, skill, charm, wisdom that she is where she is today, but it isn’t. She did not prevent Cancer by eating healthily. She did not halt Diabetes in it’s tracks by avoiding sugary snacks. She did not stop her husband from straying into another bed by wearing satin thongs and strong perfume. She didn’t make her oldest child pass his exams by hiring a tutor.
She didn’t gain close friends by joining the P.T.A. and she didn’t give birth to 4 beautiful children by regulating her hormones and keeping fit. Maybe some efforts helped towards the prevention / gaining of those things, but ultimately, her whole life was out of her hands. It’s thanks to God that she is well in emotion and mind. Her husband could have run off leaving her with no money and addicted to depression tablets. She could have been abused as a child, leading to the inability to concentrate on her lessons, leading to poor self-esteem and subsequently a poor choice of marriage partner. She could have been in a car accident and lost the use of her legs, resulting in muscle wastage on the bottom half and weight gain on the top. She could have had cysts on her ovaries or agonising Endometreosis, making her infertile. She could have suffered miscarriages or cot deaths. All in all, anything could have happened to her over the years.
Shall we conclude?
So when packing her suitcase, eager to get to the venue to boast about how wonderful her life has turned out, our dear lady and everyone she represents, probably needs to stop for a long moment and give God thanks. He rules our lives whether we choose to acknowledge it or not and if we are still looking youthful, in generally good health, have loved ones around us, fun memories to look back on and food on our table, it’s not really down to anything we have done. So I guess we all need to be careful not to look down on the less fortunate and remember that we could have been THEM. So… what do you think?
P.T.A. = Parent Teacher Association