My friend “Martha” tells me she wants to lose 20 pounds and get a really nice tan—by Friday. It’s Wednesday.
“Do you, by chance, have a certain milestone event coming up,” I ask her. She nods glumly. I knew it. Martha is exhibiting the classic symptoms of CRS—Class Reunion Syndrome. The moment one decides to attend their reunion, they’re overcome with the urge to diet, exercise, and maybe even have a little “work” done.
I didn’t go that far, but I did have some work undone. I was worried I’d be the first person in history wearing braces to a 40th class reunion. The only thing worse would be wearing dentures to a 20th. But alas I got my braces off in the nick of time, and I didn’t even have to threaten the orthodontist.
And I would have. There’s just something about a class reunion that makes you desperate. Maybe it’s the memories of bullies, wedgies and D minuses. Maybe it’s the fear of being called your old high school nickname.
Whatever it is, as the date of the reunion gets closer, those with CRS may start having second thoughts. They may even attempt to come up with good, though not necessarily honest, reasons why they can’t attend after all. “It’s so hard to get a pet sitter.” “I might have a kidney stone by then.” ‘The weather is so unpredictable in September.”
In the days before the reunion, CRS victims may find themselves digging through old year books and stalking former classmates on social media. This is partly out of genuine curiosity. But it’s also an effort to avoid that embarrassing moment when a classmate hugs them and says enthusiastically, “It’s so nice to see you,” and they have no idea who it is.
I don’t mean to brag, but I can name every single person I graduated with. It helps that there were only 28 of us. I admit though that at a reunion several years ago, I didn’t recognize a woman I once knew very well. In my defense, let me say it was a multiclass reunion, and she was from another class. Also, she had really aged.
That leads me to another common CRS symptom: The satisfying, though usually mistaken sense that everyone has gotten old except you.
CRS sufferers may also notice that when they open their mouths during the reunion, stories fall out. Some of them may even be true. But a fair number would be better left untold. At one of my high school reunions, a classmate was telling the tale of a joyride in a “borrowed” police car when someone interrupted him to ask, “Aren’t you running for county commissioner?”
Towards the end of the evening those suffering from CRS may find themselves saying, “Let’s stay in touch,” or “Call when you’re in town.” But generally by this time, CRS has run its course, though those who’ve experienced it are apt to relapse in five or ten years.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)