Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Laughter, pleasure, malice, and the pursuit of adult fun

Reunions: A User's Guide

Start by admitting you're curious about your old lovers and rivals.

It's reunion season. You know you're curious. Get out the yearbooks, folks. Get out the old ones and the newer newsletters, too. Take a deep breath—and get looking.

--Look up serious old boyfriends. Discover that two of them have married beautiful women at least twenty years their—and your—junior. Realize this means that they have married girls who could have been your daughter had the two of you stayed together and gotten married right after college, which you might have done if things had gone just a tiny bit differently that spring weekend. Wonder if there shouldn't be state laws against such things as incest-by-proxy. Become unnerved when doing the math and discovering twenty years younger than you is not so young anymore. Learn that the one other serious old boyfriend is now a fitness guru describing himself as “deeply into recovery” after a series of relationships with “objectionable, demanding, unhealthy women.” Decide that for a fitness guru he doesn't look so hot. Doesn’t he look a lot like Dick Cheney, only even less charming? Puzzle about how you could have missed it.

--Look up less important old boyfriends. Note that two have changed sexual preference. See that another is “in development” on a new cable station devoted to the “needs of females”; he is proud to announce he will be sole executive producer once “Fallopian Tube: Television for Women with a Grudge” is on the air. Three remaining old boyfriends have disappeared, apparently without providing any forwarding information to the class secretary, or, if your memory of them is any indication of their current status in life, their parole officers.

--Look up your erstwhile rivals. Establish immediately that all of them are thinner, happier, and more successful than you. Your worst enemy either still looks like a lap-dancer or looks like he married one. See them surrounded by beautiful children (ones they’ve had, not ones they’ve married), clones of themselves at eighteen, during their latest alpine skiing trip—the one organized as a surprise by their devoted spouse in celebration of their twenty-second wedding anniversary. See them winning the National Book Award. See them opening a wild-animal refuge on their family estate thereby “giving back to the land” what their predecessors robbed from it. See them owning most of Maui. Feel same old lurid sense of combined envy and resentment rise in throat. Some things, unlike glaciers or the positions of stars, do not change over time.

--Look up people you feel guilty about. Come to terms with the fact that the kid who smelled funny is now the CEO of a software company with a larger annual budget than that of the Dominican Republic. Realize a lack of intimacy with you in no way seems to have unduly bothered any of your former classmates. Surprise yourself by feeling relieved rather than resentful.

--Look up the dead. Be humbled as well as daunted by the number. Get out your freshman-year book and have your breath taken away as you see their smiling teenaged faces. Realize you knew many of them, if not by name then by sight. At least five were in classes with you. Another three were in your dorm complex. You probably said “hi” and maybe laughed together when the professor made a lame joke. They are ahead of you now, having skipped the last few years. Find yourself hoping they'll remember you when you arrive on their campus.

--adapted from It’s Not That I’m Bitter, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World

Gina Barreca, Ph.D., is Professor of English at UConn, and author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World.

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