This past summer my friend that I regularly went out to happy hour with moved to a different state for grad school. Seeing as how we both went to the same high school, naturally we were both in our hometown for Christmas and decided to pick up where we left off by going out for drinks, food, and desert.
We chose a restaurant that, in hindsight, perhaps we shouldn't have. That restaurant that's staffed by all those people you went to high school with that either never left or couldn't make it. We thought it would be funny to see who waited on us since we're mature like that. It turns out we didn't know any of the wait staff, which was fine, and we went back to our drinks and ridiculous conversations. That is, until some of our classmates came walking through the door.
Don't ask me why it's okay to have a classmate for a waiter, but not to simply run into one in a random happenstance. For my own morality I'm going to pretend the explanation is not as cruel as it actually is and say it's because one familiar face is different than a dozen where conversation is forced and trite. At least at a restaurant you have to acknowledge each other with a preset conversation and sometimes the catch up is fun. Outside of that it's uncomfortable politeness where all body language shows is how many ways can I escape from this building?
It took me a while to recognize who they were, and initially wrote them off in favor of my food consumption as I hadn't spoken to either classmates since middle school. I didn't even bother telling my friend that some of our classmates had walked through the door, it was that inconsequential. However, they didn't write me off, as one of them immediately jumped over to our table, pointed both fingers at me in that "HEY THAR" kind of way, and announced their presence by stating my full name. Then turned to my friend and uttered, "And...I don't remember your name..." Smooth.
After confirming our identities and briefly catching up, our classmate noted that several more of our classmates would be pouring through the restaurant doors any minute. I inwardly groaned, and sure enough, my friend and I felt like ducking as our classmates came in droves, refusing to consolidate in one central location, and instead ran back and forth around the restaurant leaving us in the eye of an unwanted yesteryear storm.
I don't begrudge my classmates, even if it did mostly consist of those douchey popular guys that were fortunate to graduate at all; it's been five years since I graduated. It's not that they ever did anything to me. I was certainly unpopular because I didn't care for the popular kids. I did my thing, they did theirs, we didn't cross the streams, and I went through high school as contently as a moody teenager could. But the last thing I wanted to do is chitchat like we were the best of friends and had these great memories of passing each other in the hallways, not mumbling a single word and refusing to make any eye contact at all. I'm feeling a bit wistful just thinking about it.
I do understand that I'm Asian, despite being wholly American, and I'm going to chalk it up to being the token Asian kid in a predominantly white school that allows them to just not forget me like I wish they would. I used to think my high school reunion would be fun. Sitting off to the side with my close friends, drinking as much as we could, discussing our various classmates buzzing around us, certain that they would never notice us. But after this last weekend, I'm certain my life as a undercover agent would be rather fruitless.