When finishing my response to F.C.’s June Jour challenge from Monday, I realized that there was a second movie that made an impression on me, though more obliquely than and not as much as Tootsie did.
I think it’s more about the timing of its release than anything else that allowed Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion to have an influence on me. The film came out in the spring of 1997, literally a couple of weeks after I sent in my RSVP (“Yes, I will attend!”) for the 10-year reunion of our high school class. I was optimistic to see my classmates again, despite being unsociable and a wallflower in high school. What’s more, I didn’t consider myself as successful as how I imagined my classmates would be at that moment, just like how Romy and Michele felt in the film. I had gainful employment like Romy did (Michele was unemployed), but I wasn’t living the glamorous life. (I wasn’t as cute as R&M were, but that’s another story.)
Unlike Romy and Michele, however, I wasn’t ready to lie about my status in life since high school. (No, R&M, you did not invent Post-It Notes.) Part of that was due to the gossip circuit in our little town, where loose lips can sink ships; it also was due to my attending my 5-year reunion, which was a rather staid, lightly-attended event, and at which I still felt shy and nervous around my classmates. But just like Romy and Michele (eventually) would, I did have a good time at our 10-year reunion. I had a terrific time, in fact: I had good conversations with my classmates, I had a couple of spins on the dance floor with one of the girls… and I told everyone about my lot in life honestly.
Overall, what I gained from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is the sense that I can still be myself, with all my quirks and sensibilities, and yet still be accepted. I didn’t lie about my lot in life, nor did I let it keep me away from the reunion. Matter of fact, that recommendation is part of an old advice piece I saw in and clipped out of the Chicago Tribune around the time I saw Romy and Michele at the theater, a clipping I still hang on to, conveniently keeping it tucked into one of my high school yearbooks. (UPDATE: Here’s that article online. Thanks, internet!) Along with the parts about representing yourself honestly and relaxing and having a good time, the clipping recommends dressing to flatter the person you are now, not what you were back then or what you’d hope to be now. It also advises that you should tell your spouse, date, etc. about the type of person you were in school, but that you don’t have to disclose about everything you are now to your classmates (apropos for me as I’ve never told any classmate about my crossdressing; again, loose lips can sink ships).
In short, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion made me learn that reuniting with your peers from the past doesn’t have to be a nervous moment, but more of a confident, joyous time. In fact, I’ve attended every reunion our high school class has conducted (the 5th, 10th, 15th, etc.). If you’re reading this, don’t be afraid either to attend your class reunions; just be honest, be yourself, and enjoy the moment. Oh, and if you must attend only one reunion, make it the 10-year reunion, just like Romy and Michele’s reunion was; it’s not as soon as the 5-year reunion (“No, it’s too soon”) nor as late as future reunions (when your ties to your classmates begin to dissolve). Whatever the case, have a fun time!