Finals are over and campus suddenly looks like a ghost town. Everyone has taken their talents back to wherever they came from in order to spend the holidays with loved ones. If you’re from a small town like I am, there will be plenty of uncomfortable encounters in the near future of Christmas 2013, so you might as well prepare for them.
You’re bound to run into your ex and everyone you hooked up with in high school — that’s nothing new, but don’t forget the awkwardness of running into his mom, sister, and grandma at the grocery store. There will be small talk, and it will be terrible. Despite your mother’s best efforts to keep up the spotless reputation you had in high school, his sister still sees all of your inappropriate social media posts. Don’t worry. You can drunkenly tell him about it later as an attempt to get your flirt on.
Your town probably has some kitschy hole-in-the-wall bar with a name like “Benson’s.” Usually, it’s not just a bar. It’s a half bar, half bowling alley. Or half bar, half Mexican restaurant. And sometimes it’s not even called a bar; they call it a “saloon” or an “inn.” I know for a fact there is a small town bar that is literally called “Memories” and people say “Making mems at Mems.” So ironic. I love it. If you don’t have one of these taverns, people probably get drunk at the nearest Applebee’s. Families seeking a G-rated meal get to watch in horror as you dirty dance to Ignition Remix. Ahh, the nostalgia.
Everyone from your high school, classes of 2007 through 2012, will be there, sprinkled with a few ambitious high school kids buying weed. One of my least favorite additions to the mix is the group of senior girls that throw themselves at your guy friends. Just wait until they get to college and lose their varsity athlete bodies. Finally, throw in a couple of shady characters who never even left for college, and we’ve got ourselves a party.
You get to see who has been hiding that fifteen pounds behind an Instagram filter. You get to reunite with your long-lost high school besties. It’s all fun and games until someone starts calling people out for shit they did in junior high. Everyone was once an angst-y adolescent, so just pray no one remembers your own blackened past and embarrassing stunts. (In seventh grade, I once literally pushed someone out of his seat at lunch, causing him to spill his food everywhere. I’m the originator of “You can’t sit with us.”)
Even if you don’t attend the bar scene gatherings, you still get to see these people around town. The sad excuse for a mall will probably provide you at least three conversations with people you literally unfriended two weeks ago. Midnight mass definitely will.
This gaggle of a hometown crowd is your second family, whether you like it or not. They’re fun, they’ve got your back, and they come in handy when you’re trying to convince your parents that you’ve made something of your life. (Yeah, compared to the kid living at home and dating a high school senior, you do look successful. Way to reach for the stars.)
After Christmas, you can once again return to the safe haven of campus. Just don’t forget to use your manners, wear real pants for a few days, and make sure your sister didn’t rummage through your suitcase before you leave town.