I was not popular in high school. I was not unpopular. I was not attractive, I was slightly overweight, was not athletic, I was fairly bright, but no real intellectual, I was involved in a few clubs and had maybe 3 close friends, but wasn’t really bullied. I ate lunch by myself every day in the 7th grade.
I left my 10 year reunion thinking “man, that was incredibly awkward and boring” you end up running into people that you have no history with and trying to have a conversation with them. I didn’t want to go to my 20 year reunion however, there were a number of people I did want to see- so I went to the reunion with a plan- and it worked: I walked away knowing I had more fun than anyone else there- I killed it. Here’s how:
You don’t care what that guy from Algebra does for a living- so why ask? What you want is an interesting conversation with an old acquaintance that may last 8 minutes. Ask a mundane question, you get mundane answers. I had 3 questions I asked everyone:
1- What is the best thing you’ve had to eat in the past 20 years?
I heard fabulous stories of food adventures around the globe- I saw pictures of food I had never heard of- people asked me if they could think about it- and then found me later to tell me their stories. The best part: my best food story is very pedestrian so I did zero talking.
2- Have you ever been on a reality tv show?
In a graduating class of 500 who graduated right before shows like ‘Elimindate and Singled Out” aired I knew there had to be some reality tv stars. I found out that Hustler had a reality show that never got aired – after I heard that story I referred to that classmate as “Hustler” for the rest of the night. I learned that there was actually a reality show producer in my graduating class. Better yet, I had never been on a reality tv show so I was a great listener
3- Have you ever been in jail?
That was the surprise hit question. My friend’s husband had this amazing story about being thrown in a Slovakian prison. I found out that the family who first took me toilet papering was in the mob. I have never been in jail so it gave me a great opportunity again to listen.
When listening to someone tell you an incredibly interesting story- it’s easy to be a great conversationalist- I just had to be quiet and ask interesting questions.
Two last pieces of advice on killing it: If there was someone who wronged you- forgive them. You’d hate to be judged on how you acted when you were 16 when you’re 38. If you can’t forgive them, avoid them. 2- The real key to being happy at the reunion- don’t try to impress anyone- we wouldn’t worry what people thought of us if we knew how seldom they did.