You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer, and Vixen, but you forgot that girl with the freckle’s name from math class…Alicia…Beth? The holidays are stressful enough without reliving your long-spanning awkward phase, but alas, high school classmates are abundant in your hometown. Instead of pretending you don’t recognize your peers this year, embrace the uncomfortable situation and make the most of it—just avoid any weird mistletoe situations at all costs. Your old haunts are calling, and these are the 13 people from high school you will undoubtedly run into this holiday season:
1. The Overachiever
Back in the day, she was president of A.S.B., competed on a varsity sports team, did an excessive amount of volunteer work (probably with kids who had cancer), and still managed to ace all of her A.P. tests. When you bump into her at a bar and ask what she’s been up to since graduation, she happily chirps that she’s working for the United Nations, has successfully launched an Etsy store that benefits feline AIDS, and is married to her college sweetheart. She’s on her way to world domination, and while you can be a tiny bit jealous, you can’t but help feeling a little proud of all she’s done. Does she have any interest in running for office? She seems more than capable.
2. The Slacker
Some of your most adventurous adolescent memories involve this character. You used to buy cheap weed from the Slacker, smoke the stuff in his mom’s garage, and saunter over to 711 to buy Slurpees and Skittles (although you’re pretty sure he ripped you off on a few occasions). Turns out, his mom converted the garage into a bedroom and he’s still living there now. While the Slacker might not be your most reliable acquaintance, he’s always down for a good time. Digging further into his life post-high school, he reveals that he tried his hand at multiple vocational schools, but ultimately decided mainstream education wasn’t for him. “Sounds chill,” you mutter into your tall boy. When you get home and look him up on Facebook, you find out that he lived in Humboldt for a brief stint, and annually attends Burning Man.
3. The Couple
Most of your high school relationships ended dramatically. A passive aggressive text or spontaneous IM was sent that caused your four-month romance to head into a fiery tailspin. High school is dramatic. Relationships can be fucking weird. But magically, the Couple has managed to stay together in the years that followed. Chances are they were passing each other notes throughout senior year about how much they loved each other, to everyone in your history class’ chagrin. They even went to separate colleges and somehow managed to stay together. Their social media accounts have essentially merged into one, including a slew of kissing pictures, and upbeat statuses about their frequent vacations. They seem rock solid, but they also know each other well enough to not take themselves too seriously. The Couple is an anomaly that dating sites will study in future years, the evil scientists behind Tinder and Match.com trying to crack their code for happiness.
4. The Gal Pals
While you’re out at your favorite bar, you see them: The group of girls who has remained friends since elementary school. Their outfits are eerily similar, and they’re all on stage singing along to some type of karaoke country song (is that you, Shania?). Thinking back on high school, you remember them traveling in a pack at all times. Their names rarely deviate from monikers such as Megan, Brittany, or Jessica, and while you know you used to be able to tell them apart, this now seems like a great feat. Overall, they went to party schools and majored in programs like Marketing or Veterinary Science. They’re kindhearted and know how to party, in fact, you heard Megan #2 is a borderline alcoholic. But hey, what’s one shot to celebrate old times?
5. The Gym Rat
He probably has a name like “T.J.” or “Skip.” You thought he was bulky in high school, but now with adult wages and easy access to steroids, the Gym Rat has morphed into someone great and terrible. He grips you in a bear hug when he spots you in the mall, and jovially announces that he misses when you two were “bros.” The Gym Rat obviously joined a fraternity in college, in order to surround himself with like-minded fitness junkies, and boasts that he can chug a can of Bud Light in 2.5 seconds. You might not be overly impressed or surprised by his increase in mass, but you undeniably want to see this superhuman beer-chugging feat.
6. The Nerd
It’s true that you needed a little extra help to pass Calculus in 11th grade (damn derivatives), and the Nerd was there to tutor you after hours in the library. He never caved when you asked if you could simply copy his homework, and it seems his disciplined ways have paid off for him. He’s living in Silicon Valley and sitting pretty as C.E.O. of his app company. You didn’t fully register what he was talking about when he explained it, but it had something to do with taking digital waste and turning it into music. Always kind and excessively sincere, it’s nice to run into the Nerd. And hey, you could use the business connection.
7. The Hustler
His mother constantly told him he was excessively attractive and “special” while he was growing up, so he never formed a personality of his own. Slick and seductive, the Hustler has no qualms about ripping people off if it will make his life easier. His lunchroom antics consisted of selling Geography test answers to the highest bidder, hurling rotting food at unsuspecting janitors, and wearing unrestrained amounts of Axe body spray. You fake a grin when you lock eyes, and he tries to sell you on his latest “business venture.” Although you probably wouldn’t have been able to spot a pyramid scheme at age 16, now his motives seem abundantly clear. But, maybe you do need to buy all those hair-growth supplements…
8. The Ex-Flame
It was in English class sophomore year that you developed a crush on the Ex-Flame. He raised his hands to discuss metaphors in “The Catcher in the Rye” and you couldn’t stop gawking at his shaggy hair and deep brown eyes. You two went danced together at homecoming once or twice “as friends” but nothing really ever culminated past that. Reunited on your old stomping grounds, you still get a severe case of teenage butterflies when you run into him, and excitedly trade numbers on the off chance that you two decide to make New Year’s Eve plans together to “catch up”.
9. The Athlete
Long, lean, and muscular—just as you remembered her. P.E. with the athlete was simultaneously embarrassing and inspiring. You always picked her first for flag football, because she’d enthusiastically cheer you on, even when you fumbled the ball. Her constant exercise has her brain loaded up on endorphins, causing her to have a permanently sunny disposition. She went on to play soccer or lacrosse at some big name school in the Midwest, and is now in the process of training for a triathlon. Of course, she’s already competed in several, and probably has her old number tattooed somewhere on her body (she got it with her team, duh).
10. The Musician
There are three types of musicians in high school: Nerdy ones who hang out in the band room at lunch and play some type of horn or impressive-looking drum, the alternative bunch who grow their hair long and rock Nirvana shirts until they’re ratty and worn, and those special lyricists who fall somewhere in the middle (they’re tight with the band kids, but play sax in a ska band on weekends). Not surprisingly, they attended an art institute or music conservatory after high school, and are eager to engage in debates about whether EDM is actual art or just someone lamely hitting a keyboard. Typically, the Musician is birthed from parents who also worked as artists, and is attractive in an unorthodox way.
11. The Self-Esteem Booster
No matter how cool you were in high school, there was someone there who thought you were not all that and a bag of chips. Despite numerous yearbook signings and attempts to play nice, there was always that one dude who would not open up to you. Your paths cross while you’re home for the holidays, and he is weirdly nice to you. Like, hell has frozen over level of nice. You leave your encounter feeling confused and out of place. Suddenly, your phone pings, you have a Facebook message from the Self-Esteem Booster: “You look real good, had no clue what I was missing out on in high school ;).” Sealing the deal with a predatory winking emoticon, you quickly X out of the message window, and smugly carry on about your day.
12. The Hot Mess
She was your first friend to lose her virginity, take ecstasy, or have a threesome in college. You vaguely recall her telling you about how she spent a summer living in a teepee in Boulder, making vegan salsa and fraternizing with the locals. The Hot Mess is a free-spirited display of indulgence. When you were 17 it seemed lighthearted and sexy to put yourself out there, but nowadays, you’re worried she might have a drug problem. She’s smoking cigarettes outside of a CVS, waiting for her 42-year-old drug dealer/hook-up buddy to return from Taco Bell. Her parents fund her nontraditional lifestyle, and she shows no signs of resigning to a more standard way of living. You’re excited to see her, but at the same time, don’t want to stand too close for fear of contracting Hep C.
13. The Best Friend
The two of you spent countless hours dissecting your favorite T.V. shows, talking shit on your peers, and candidly eating out of one another’s fridges. Her parents accepted you as one of their own, and you spent more time sleeping over at each other’s houses than apart. Although you’re not as close as you used to be, you can pick up right where you left off, meaning you’ll be stealing her parents’ cheap whiskey and skinny-dipping in the community pool before you know it. The Best Friend is a constant reminder that “home” is where your favorite people are, not where you lay your head at night.