A clever way around high school reunion small talk

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/16/a-clever-way-around-high-schoo.html


This is a fun read of Wachs’ adventurous life. I suspect that he may have done a better job than some of his classmates at avoiding “The dread specter of time” attempts to be a dream killjoy.

Best reusable line: Life is a complicated mosaic.


love it, but it’s kind of jerky to mention you work for Burning Man and then refuse to talk about it. if there’s one good conversation point that a lot of people have heard of these days, it’s the burn.


Cute idea, kind of a physical FAQ. This reminds me of the postcard that Thomas F Wilson (Biff from “Back to the Future” and super nice guy from all accounts) hands out:


I got around it by not going.


I hate to fact check a stranger’s life, but it seems to me that he absolutely used his self-designed major, “Satire, Humor, and Self-Representation”, right here in these pamphlets.


As clever as this may be, why is this dude going to a party he obviously doesn’t want to go to?

If you go to any party with the goal of showing how much better than it you are, you’re the asshole.


am I the only one here that thinks he is coming off as a pretentious dick?


The organizer of my last reunion was a smug, pretentious twat who barely knew me back then and had the nerve to say, shortly after I arrived, that I hadn’t changed. But I paid a rather unreasonable amount of money and expended more effort than I would have preferred to attend – so I did not loudly tell him off and storm out of there as I might have preferred. Maybe next time.

(Afterwards, someone on Facebook recounted the event as such a pleasant affair, saying how nice it was that everyone came with open hearts, laughing off grudges and not dwelling on them. Rrrrr.)


Yeah, feels more like “How to cleverly show that you thought way too much about your reunion, have too much time on your hands, yet think you’re too cool to spend any of that copious time actually reconnecting to people”


Full disclosure - I have never been to a high school reunion, but may try to make the next one. But - this post has some good points, but comes off as smarmy. The whole point of small talk is to make people comfortable. Yes, asking “what do you do?” “what’s San Francisco like?” may come off as inane questions, but they are the scaffolding you have to ask before you can get to questions like “what kind of art makes you happy?” etc. And in the end, iIf you don’t want to have the same conversation over and over, don’t go to a high school reunion.


An older relative once told me, don’t bother going to any high school reunions before the 50th. She said that’s when it got interesting, as people had had their careers and no longer had the need to impress, those who were still alive felt like survivors together, and political differences didn’t matter any more. She said the 50th was the only one she truly enjoyed.


I would even say that, paraphrasing Heraclitus, you can never have the same conversation twice. If you do, it is your problem, not your conversation partner’s. As you say, small talk helps you to connect with other people and allows you to have then a deeper conversation. And just because you think that you have a very interesting job, it doesn’t mean that everybody is going to think the same and ask you about it.


Rather than a flipbook, wouldn’t it be quicker for him to just hand people a business card that says:

“I’m better than you and my life is way more interesting than yours. Will you support my Patreon?”


‘I am employed by one of the most topical cultural touchstones of our time, but I am not willing to expend the breath or brainpower it would require for me to talk about it with you.’


My high school closed down several years ago. Now the grim specter of time can never find me!


On occasions like this, I like to open a conversation with
“Tell me, are you a believer in elemental disproportion or de-energised statics, or do you just stick to the Propkoffer theory?”

I have no idea what it means. In fact I strongly suspect that it doesn’t mean anything at all, as I borrowed it from an old cartoon by Pont from the 1930ies.
However, it does break the ice and is quite the litmus test for a sense of humour.
Anyone who actually recognises the quote will receive at least one free drink.


The previous question having been something along the lines of, “Burning Man? What’s that?” it’s reasonable to presume that the answer was directed to an interlocutor who’d never heard of the Burn. Anyone who’s that ignorant of the culture, well the duration of the party, much less a particular party conversation, would not be enough to bring them up to speed, and the resulting bewilderment might well poison the well for their future enlightenment.

Given that the guy actually works for Burning Man - in the capacity of evangelizing for it in the broader world - I see this as very much the counterpart of a computer geek saying, “no, I won’t fix your computer” - and I own that T-shirt, and have worn it ragged.

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I prefer to answer, “I’m just zis gal, you know?” but no one ever gets the reference.


I managed to avoid this by skipping my graduation and never looking back.