My Staples High School Reunion—to Go or Not to Go

Nervous woman

As of right now, I plan on attending my 45th reunion from Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut, next weekend.

But to be honest, over the past few weeks, I have gone back and forth and forth and back about whether to go or not to go.

At 63, I see myself as independent, confident, and strong-willed. But I wasn’t always that way.

My looming reunion has me going back in time to my 1968 self — anxious, teased, meek and weak.

Taunts like “Theresa the Greaser,” “Olive Oyl,” and “The Mod Martian” were some of the names I painfully recall when I look back on those not-so-wonderful years.

I wasn’t invited to any of the fancy schmancy parties, although I would strain to hear the popular kids excitedly talk about them before class, in the gym, and at lunch.

At dances, I was the perpetual wallflower, sitting in a corner uncomfortably observing high school life passing me by.

And the fear of having my name “Theresa” be forever associated with the word “Greaser” was the reason I decided to drop the name altogether and use my nickname, “Teri.”

I grew to hate my own name. If anyone called me Theresa, I refused to answer to it. As a result, I haven’t referred to myself or been called Theresa for over 48 years.

Now, I don’t want you to think I had zero friends because that wasn’t the case at all. I had some really terrific friends, which is why I’m on the fence about going to the reunion. But what if they don’t show up? Who will I talk to? Who will I hang out with? To go or not to go.

And I also don’t want you to think there were hundreds of haters out to get me. No, not hundreds, but enough to make my 10th year in high school unbearably lonely and downright miserable.

To ward off the haters, I reinvented myself in the summer of 1969 in preparation for the 11th grade. To give credit where credit is due, my best friend at the time showed me the wealthy way to fit in: the latest and greatest hairstyle, expensive, somewhat revealing trendy clothes, push-up bras, and makeup. Lots and lots of makeup.

I called it my war paint. To this day, I despise wearing makeup and still refer to it as war paint. I artfully paint it on whenever necessary and wipe it off as quickly as possible.

But in the summer of 1969, I wore that war paint proudly—and often. And with the makeup, along with all the other superficial fixes, I succeeded in throwing Theresa far far away.

And I won the war. Because guess what? The haters stopped hating. Which was weird because I was the exact same person. Okay, to be sure, I had way nicer clothes, straighter hair, and at least the appearance of bigger boobs.

My early high school experience definitely shaped who I am today; steadfastly intolerant of bullying and totally and utterly unimpressed with the rich and famous.

And all of that rejection was forever ago, so in preparation for possibly attending my 45th reunion, why is it that I can’t stop feeling like that anxious, skinny, homely girl back in 1968?

Which is why last night I made a final decision not to go.

Only to wake up this morning and decide to just suck it up and go already.

I don’t know if I’ll show up or not. I guess I’ll wait until next Friday and see how I feel.

At least I don’t have to worry about getting a huge ass pimple on my face. That was so 1968.

But, to all my fellow Stapleites: if I do happen to show up for the reunion, and you happen to see me sitting in a corner—wallflower style, pretending my phone is blowing up with activity, please say hello, and let’s remeet each other.

Because I’m Theresa, hear me roar.

Teri Gatti 1971

13 thoughts on “My Staples High School Reunion—to Go or Not to Go

  1. Oh go…you’ll be the prettiest there and all those uppity bitches will be fat or u can hope!! It could be another book!!

  2. Girlfriend …the haters are all but a memory and we all survived!!! I remember and I’m glad because it made me stand on my own two feet and meet the world head on!! Look where those haters got you…you were always you… You just needed a little coaxing to prove to the world and yourself that you were mad as hell and you weren’t gonna take it anymore!!

    Let the haters be damned… Look at you now!!

  3. Good morning i just finished reading your story.I was a bit surprised to hear this but I will make it short and sweet…. I will be there and very much look forward to it to see a few friends and spends little quality time with them,but probably no one more than you!I hope to see you because you are beautiful inside and out!with love from the guy that’s partial to the brunette.Peace!!

  4. You and I unknowingly shared so many of the same challenges. I’m really looking forward to seeing you next week!

  5. She was beautiful then, and more so now. Both within and without. Would that I had met her long ago.

  6. I remember that you had a good time at your last reunion. We don’t do it every 5 years; we have been doing it every 10 years. There are mini-reunions like at the beach last year. I think you should go b/c you had such a great time 5 years ago. You have certain significant people in that group who are not the same as they were in High School, just like you. You like people – It may well be the last time you see some of these people. These events go by so quickly and you always make friends or renew friendships so take the trip. I think you’ll have fun.

  7. I’m so glad you wrote this! It’s probably how a lot of the attendees feel. The tough times in high school do have a profound affect on you no matter how successful you become. I can attest to that. I’ll be looking for you too, Teri.

  8. You go girl! I will be with you in spirit and love -remembering our 40th. SO much fun. And I think I recall a young man who passed you as you were getting into your car after visiting your childhood home. He inquired something or other – hell- the kid was flirting with you. You told him you were in town for your 40th HS reunion at Staples. “NO way” said he! Way!
    I wish I could be there to reminisce with you, laugh with you… and recall those challenging but simpler times of our childhood. Go or no? I say, you go Theresa! Love you T.

  9. I was called Olive Oyl in high school and my skinny best friend was called “bones”. I don’t remember thinking it was a bad name. After all they called me that because I was skinny (or that’s what I thought) so I took it as a compliment. “Bones” was probably worse. I’m glad you went; you’re probably glad by now as well.

  10. I was so happy to see you there! Thankfully, at 63, it’s all about love, celebrating we are still here and connected, and unconditional forgiveness. Hugs and blessings!

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