How to Thrive at Your High School Reunion: Top 10 Tips and Tricks

Submitted into Contest #61 in response to: Write about a character who goes to — or purposefully avoids — their high school reunion.... view prompt

21 comments

Drama Funny

Author’s Note


You’ve just received the letter, with that damn mascot in the corner (a hawk? A stallion? Maybe a lightning bolt, if the school has a stick up its ass?), and your heart stutters.


The words “You’re invited!” swim in front of you and you laugh at the irony of it, because you can count on one hand the number of times you heard that phrase in high school.


You have absolutely, unequivocally no idea what to do. 


Have no fear! Author X here—expert in the art of petty revenge, the science of the humble brag—armed with the top 10 tips and tricks you need to thrive at that next reunion.*


*For family reunions, please order Author X’s “How to Survive a Family Reunion: Top 10 Snapbacks”




High School Reunions: Top 10 Tips and Tricks


1. Find every opportunity to bring up the past.

Remember when you bought that gorgeous cherry prom dress—the one with the off-the-shoulder sleeves and the slit at the thigh, the one you had to work six extra shifts to afford? And how Lucy Garza said it looked like you forgot to wear a tampon and bled all over it? Good news—Garza’s wearing RED tonight, and it’s your time to shine.


Take careful note of the way her face pales when you compliment the color, and remind her why you ended up crying in a bathroom stall that night.


2. Show off.

There was always some stupid game that spread around the schools like a contagious disease. The dare game crept into the district around the middle of sophomore year. Shane Johnson—the Shane Johnson—walked up to you with his storm-gray eyes and sandy hair and asked to take you to dinner. Your ears rang too loud to hear the snickers from his friends by the lockers, and before you could stammer out a “yes, please,” Shane burst into laughter.


“I can’t do it,” he said, turning to his friends. “How do you guys do it with a straight face?”


Survey says Shane Johnson is still single after his divorce. Make sure to scratch your nose and flash the ring when you walk by him. 


3. Introduce awkward topics.

I think you remember a certain Mr. Hoffman, who took every opportunity to squeeze your shoulders in class. Didn’t he compliment your skirt once? Twice? Ten times? Rest assured; he’s not allowed within 200 feet of a school now.


4. Avoid others’ accomplishments.

You always raised your hand when Miss Wong asked a question, and most people sighed in quiet relief. Except Macy Rivers, with her puckered lips and perfect nose. 


“God, can you shut up?” she hissed every time you opened your mouth.


And then she had the audacity to complain when Miss Wong called on her.


“But I didn’t raise my hand,” she whined.


“Well, no one does anymore.”


Might wanna stay away from this one, dear reader. Macy’s driving a $40,000 car with a designer purse on her shoulder, because karma's complete shit sometimes.


5. Feel guilty.

Ah. Melody. “Hellody,” they called her. You wondered when she’d come up.


You knew, deep down, that she needed someone. Anyone. But you didn’t sit with her at lunch or help her with her calculus homework. You didn’t even make eye contact, because a part of you was so relieved that someone had it worse than you that your eyes glazed right over her, like she was just another chair in the library.


Survey says the invitation went to her parents, who ripped it to shreds before visiting her grave.


Make sure to take a minute to drown in that guilt, sister, and then get back to swimming.


6. Hold grudges.

John Mance and Mary Davis. Your stomach clenches a bit when you hear those names, yes?


Senior year, final project in AP Literature. You worked into the dead of night for a week straight, while they spent their time drinking through their fathers’ liquor cabinets. Didn’t the cops get called to Mary’s house?


It’s a tough one. Do you blame Mr. Ora, who somehow still thought group projects were a good idea? Or John and Mary’s parents, for leaving their cabinets unlocked?


Either way, John and Mary won’t be there. Mary got a busy job at her father’s company right out of college, and John’s in prison for fraud. Make sure to bring up the latter when the conversations lulls.


7. Lie about your resume.

What was that scholarship? Something about community service. You wrote that beautiful essay about the retirement center you volunteered at every Sunday.


And then Billy Warsick got the money.


How? He used racial slurs and complained about teachers getting paid too much. He shoved Melody into the lockers at least once a week.


You asked him what he put in his essay, and he smirked.


“Just a bunch of bullshit about crippled kids. People’ll give you anything if you pretend to help vegetables.”


You just stared, and quickly walked away so he couldn’t see the tears. He’s a C-Suite executive now and only hires people that look like him.


Survey’s inconclusive on whether he’ll attend. If he does, say you’re a mother. He won’t listen to you unless you’re “doing your duty as a woman.”


I’m sorry.


8. Hide.

If there were classes in being invisible, you would have been valedictorian, no question. 


But damn Principal Shatwell and his hawk eyes.


“You! Girl!” he barked as you sat in the hall, leaning against the wall and reading your favorite book. “No sitting in the hallways, even if you don’t have friends!”


Every eye turned toward you, and all you could hear were the snickers and whispers, buzzing like a crowd of excited bees.


Principal Shatwell retired a long time ago, and his funeral was poorly attended.


I’m not sure if the hallways are up for grabs now. Give it a shot.


9. Glam up.

You tried makeup once, remember? You went out and bought the expensive stuff, agonizing over the shades of brown and pink. You woke up two hours early, watched four tutorial videos, and painstakingly brushed on the foundation and the eyeshadow. It took fifteen minutes just to get the eyeliner right.


But you looked in the mirror after and, for the first time in a long time, smiled.


You held yourself a bit differently when you walked into school that day. Back straighter. Chin higher. You felt like you had a balloon in your chest.


“Didn’t realize the clown circus came to town,” said Jordan Hendricks as you walked past. Lucy Garza, whose locker was right next to Jordan's, giggled. They waved at you.


The balloon didn't just deflate; it popped with a BANG and sank to the pit of your stomach. You kept your head down the rest of the day. Your mother came into your bedroom that night and asked why all the expensive makeup you just bought was in the trash.


Make sure to spend an exorbitant amount on a professional makeup artist this time. Survey says Jordan Hendricks will.  


10. THROW THIS GUIDE AWAY.


Why the hell are you reading this?! This is garbage. Absolute should-be-thrown-into-a-fire, flushed-down-the-toilet rubbish.


Read these words instead:


  1. Don't bring up troubles from the past.
  2. Be careful about the bragging.
  3. Avoid awkward topics.
  4. Congratulate others on their accomplishments.
  5. Apologize where appropriate, and don't hold on to guilt forever.
  6. Don't hold grudges.
  7. Don't lie about your resume.
  8. Don't hide.
  9. Be yourself.
  10. Go to the reunion.


*****


You went to see Steph, who danced with you at prom when a guy never asked, and Mrs. Halder, who drew smiley faces in red pen on all your essays. You went to ask Bruno about his kid—you always knew he’d be a great dad, with the way he helped you throw that basketball in P.E. class. You went to thank that teacher who walked you all the way to the French classroom when you got lost.


You went, because there was beauty there.


You went, because we all sucked in high school.


You went, because you’re okay now.


You’re okay.



--Author X


September 26, 2020 16:10

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21 comments

Molly Leasure
16:49 Sep 28, 2020

This is hilarious! I love the way you turned this prompt into, well, an article? Maybe, an advice column? Anyway, I loved it! The author's voice is great, it really shows the trauma that high school brought to a lot of people. And, it made me reminisce a little bit, which frankly, I'm good without :P--but I think it did its job well because of that. There were two lines that I noticed: "Make sure bring up the latter when..." You're just missing a "to" there. And the other sentence: "You found that teacher who..." It's near the end, and i...

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Lani Lane
19:51 Sep 28, 2020

THANK YOU MOLLY!!! Fixed those errors!!! I so appreciate you giving this a thorough-read through and pointing those out! You're my favorite :) I hope they put in a few more genres too haha! I never know what to put... I'll just put this in Drama/Funny for now... Thank you SO MUCH again, I always look forward to your comments!!! :)

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Molly Leasure
21:39 Sep 28, 2020

Don't worry, I got you! There's never glaring issues, so it's easy for me to go, "hey, you missed a word." xD I need a "sad" genre more than anything else. Most of my stories fall under: "depressing," "mood-killing," etc. Haha! But yes, I think Drama and Funny are definitely the two that describe it most! When I find another chunk of time, I'll be devouring your next story, too. Just you wait! :D

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Lani Lane
03:39 Sep 29, 2020

Blesssss you, thank you!! I know, I really want a tragedy genre!! They've gotta have one of those if they have comedy. :D I see you have another story out as well! Tonight I'm DECEASED but I will spend a chunk of tomorrow on Reedsy, can't wait to read your story! :)

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Molly Leasure
04:16 Sep 29, 2020

RIGHT?! I am all tragedy, why must they wound me by not having it? ;( OH MAN, I guess I better have it ready for you :P. A.G's been trying to help me solve my weird time issue xD...we'll see if I make it better or worse LOL!

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Lani Lane
04:23 Sep 29, 2020

I know!! Tragedies are my favorite!! Maybe because they're more realistic lol! Ooooo I'm all for unusual time stories!!! :D

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Maggie Deese
17:13 Sep 26, 2020

Okay, I seriously loved this. This was super creative and I felt the pain that high school brings to us all at least one time. The only suggestion I have is simply cosmetic and that would be to make the headings the same size as the other text. You can still bold and italicize them, but making them the same size will make it look more appealing. Other than that, this was a great. Really funny and emotional. Well done!

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Lani Lane
17:22 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much, Maggie! That's a fantastic suggestion. I didn't realize how big they looked once the story is published, they look so much smaller in the editing field! I'll do that right away. :) I so appreciate your comment! I see you've written a new story--I'll be sure to give that a read sometime today! :)

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Maggie Deese
17:42 Sep 26, 2020

You are very welcome! It looks much better now! Reedsy can be a pain sometimes when it comes to formatting; I've had to fix my stories several times after I've submitted them because of format! :)

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19:56 Oct 07, 2020

I read this a few days ago and forgot to comment, but I wanted to let you know I thought it was hilarious! The guide style works really well. I imagined it as a sort of mad libs guide, with blanks for the names and some of the actions.

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Lani Lane
21:02 Oct 07, 2020

Hi Natalie, thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to read the story. :) I love the mad libs thing, I may or may not have put the real names in of the people that inspired this and then changed to fake ones...

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Iris Silverman
15:37 Sep 30, 2020

Omg, I LOLed at "maybe a lightning bolt, if the school has a stick up its ass". My school was a lightening bolt and I can confirm they had a stick up their ass. I love the format of this-- the fact that it was a "how-to" guide made it so much more entertaining and unique. The use of second person was on point; it made me think of my own high school experience. The story contained just the right amount of pain, cringe-worthy moments, embarrassment, greed, and was just a great observation of human behavior honestly. I loved it. Also, the e...

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Lani Lane
18:03 Sep 30, 2020

Thank you so much!! There was a school in my district that had a lightning bolt as a mascot, which inspired that sentence lol. :D I so appreciate your comment! I'm glad you support the format, I was a bit worried about that. And that the ending worked for you! Yay! Thanks again, Iris!! :) Author X will be sure to make a reappearance sometime. ;)

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Lina Oz
14:21 Sep 29, 2020

I LOVE this. I think you've progressed so much in the humor-writing category and it seriously shows in this story. My favorite lines: "...because karma's complete shit sometimes." "Make sure to take a minute to drown in that guilt, sister, and then get back to swimming." "...and John’s in prison for fraud. Make sure to bring up the latter when the conversations lulls." Hilarious. I love those lines. I also love how you structured this as a guide. It's such a creative way to interact with the prompt and it definitely adds to the ...

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Lani Lane
22:46 Sep 29, 2020

Thank you so so so much!! Yay!! I will apply those edits!! Thank you for pointing those out, the small things always get me. :D

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A.Dot Ram
05:02 Sep 29, 2020

This narrative structure lets you cover a lot of ground! Very clever. And all of the content feels very authentic, with so many details.

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Lani Lane
22:45 Sep 29, 2020

Thank you so much! That means the world. :) Definitely a new style for me, but I might revisit it in the future again!

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Lani Lane
16:11 Sep 26, 2020

Not sure what genre to put this in, advice appreciated! Also, took quite a bit of creative liberty with the prompt, but this was fun to write!

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Lina Oz
14:22 Sep 29, 2020

I think "drama" and "funny" are perfect categories! Really suit the story well.

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Lani Lane
22:57 Sep 29, 2020

Thank you!! I'll leave it with those then!

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