Things Frequently Said At A 25th College Reunion (or at least at mine, which happened this past weekend)

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“You look exactly the same!”

I think that making this statement is a requirement when you see people you haven’t seen in five to ten years. If you don’t say it, they will think that you are thinking that they look old, or fat, or bald. And if you are thinking any of those things, then you feel especially obligated to say it.

“I think we look younger than everyone else.”

This is what your friends tell you, sotto voce, after having said, “You look exactly the same!” to all the other people that they have greeted (and probably to you too, at some point). But of course, this is also required, it’s what friends are for. Also, all your other friends’ friends are saying it to them.

“Remember when we [did that crazy thing that wasn’t really all that crazy]???”

"I have two kids.”

“My parents are in Florida now.”

“My husband/wife is at home with the kids.” 

This seemed to be the year not to bring your spouse/kids who are not Stanford alumni to the reunion, because they’re sick of going — unless you didn’t have one of them at the last reunion (like me), in which case you still had to make them come to prove that they actually exist.

“My story is unusual because things didn’t work out the way I planned and so I changed careers.”

Said by everyone on the Class Panel. So, not really that unusual.

"Oh, my story is boring.”

Said or at least thought by most of the doctors and lawyers at the reunion, especially those who went to the Class Panel, because their career paths were pretty straightforward. I’m not sure when uncertainty and instability came to qualify as “excitement,“ but I suppose this works to my advantage in reunion situations.

“What is ____ really like?”

This is where my conversations about the film business often go, although not that many this time around, probably because I don’t really bring up the famous people thing all that much any more. It’s getting to the point where I’m feeling a bit ridiculous talking about the celebrities I’ve met, even though I know it’s one of the things about what I do for a living that people at parties are interested in, because I know that working with them really isn’t improving my lifestyle in any way other than being able to talk about it at parties. On this trip, most of the queries were about Andrew Luck, with whom I worked on a commercial this past year (it was the husband of a friend who said, “Please tell me he’s as handsome in person!”), and who was genuinely nice and excited to meet another Stanford person. And one friend who is a fan of The Good Wife was curious about Josh Charles, but that was pretty much it.

“I took some time off to figure out what I wanted to do next.”

This is something you hear a lot in Silicon Valley. Most of us know that it basically means, “I’ve made enough money at this point that I don’t really need to work any more.” My friends from Class of ’90 who were among the first in the tech industry who could say that say this instead because they aren’t the kind of entitled tech people — like, say, those from Class of ’05 and younger — who feel comfortable saying the other thing. It’s really still kind of strange to they themselves that many of them have become people with literally more money than they know what to do with. Another phrase that means the same thing is, “I’ve been getting really into cooking/sculpting/nature photography/stand-up.”

“You have to let me know next time you’re in _____, were have a place there, and an island.”

No, that’s not a typo, it’s not supposed to be “on an island,” and only one person actually said this. Also, to be fair, the friend who owns the island kind of tried to sneak it past me, and seemed to feel a little sheepish when I asked him about it. Again, that has a lot to do with how and when the tech boom hit our generation.

Some variation on, “Did you get lost?/Everything looks so different!/Everything is so much nicer!/What did they do with all the books?”

Thanks in part to that boom, Stanford has a lot of money, and that’s reflected on campus, which has a lot of new construction. I think there are more construction barriers and caution tape now than there were my senior year, thanks to the earthquake. One of the biggest, most recent changes was knocking down Meyer Undergraduate Library, where I used to work and many of us used to “study” (Meyer was also called “the social library”). For now, it’s been turned into a big garden, at least until they figure out what else to put there or someone gives them another giant bequest. But it has to make you wonder all sorts of other things like, Will they eventually get rid of all the libraries? Where do students go now to pretend they’re studying? Is that another thing kids today just do online instead?

“Wow, they do sell a ridiculous variety of Stanford shit at this bookstore.”

My husband was the only one who said this out loud, but I’m sure a lot of us were thinking it.

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