Mansion image via shutterstock.

Screw high school reunions

by Jason Benoit, Esq.

This past week was my high school reunion. I didn’t go. Because high school reunions are stupid.

Okay, that’s not entirely true, but when I realized that ten years after graduating high school that I wouldn’t be flying back in a helicopter, lamenting about how I invented Post-It’s, I determined that the price of a plane ticket, hotel room, nice new shirt, and the $57 dollar ticket to hang out in a shitty Texas bar probably just wasn’t worth the hit to my self esteem.

I hadn’t fully paused to even realize it’d been ten years until I was driving home from my day job one evening when I received a text message from an ex-girlfriend asking if I would be attending. And before you get to thinking this was some kind of time-warped booty call where we’d hop in a shitty rental car (probably a Civic) and hark back to times of yonder past, this is an ex-girlfriend who now has four kids. Not a typo. Yes, four of them.

But I already knew this. In fact, I know basically everything I need to know about everyone I graduated with that I’d even care to keep up with. Why? Because Facebook likes to remind me every single day that most of them are now married, getting married, pregnant, had a kid, or pregnant again (or in the case of my ex, pregnant for the fourth time). I am none of these, though every month I keep crossing my fingers there’s not a knock on my front door or an e-card in my Inbox: “Oops, guess what, you’re a dad!”

If I did go to my reunion, I imagined how I might explain my current job to people. And nothing was more glaring about the weird limbo I find myself in as an aspiring screenwriter then that very commute home I took that night. My day job (the one that pays the bills) is in Beverly Hills. I live in Valley Village.

Okay, that’s a lie. North Hollywood.

Okay, another lie. Valley Glen. Which for those who don’t live in Los Angeles, it’s in the “Valley”. Which is basically the exact location of Hell on Earth, where men coined the term ‘ball sweat’, because no matter how high you crank up your AC there becomes a pivotal point where even the AC can’t keep up with the blistering heat, causing you to forgo wearing underwear (and most times, pants entirely).

But I digress.

I was driving home from Beverly Hills, through one of the many Los Angeles canyon roads littered with million dollar homes and giant shrubs and mechanical gates that do all but scream, “Don’t even try to sell your Girl Scout cookies here!” — I can only liken this to that train they take in HUNGER GAMES, where they bullet past the different districts in some sort of hierarchy of wealth — when an epiphany hit me.

One of my life goals is to buy a house.

Like a large, eff-you-in-the-face house with a screening room, and a pool (to combat the ball sweat of the Valley), and an air conditioner that isn’t intimidated by triple digit record-breaking temperatures.

However, in this economy, in this city, it’s been statistically proven that for most people, renting is actually more feasible financially than buying a home. Unless you have one of these ‘no girl scout soliciting’ houses in the canyon. Then you can afford anything. Which is what I want.

But I haven’t yet had a show go to pilot. Or make it to air. Or receive a full back nine pickup. So, when I show up at my reunion and I tell people I’m a writer in Hollywood, the first question they’re going to ask is, “What have I seen that you’ve written?” And I will have to tell them that I sold a TV show last season that didn’t get picked up to pilot. And that I’ve written a handful of films and television shows (a number of them with well-known to prominent producers involved) that will likely never see the light of day (or financial compensation).

Meanwhile, if I had stayed in Texas for the amount I pay in rent now, I could own a three-bedroom home (one of which I’d have converted into a screening room), with a kickass pool. Maybe a water slide. Ooh, or a water feature. The AC may still suck in the 100-degree heat waves, but we can’t have it all, right?

But here’s the realization I made after pondering my hellacious commute through the winding one-way roads of the rich and famous: screw high school reunions. I love what I’m doing. And I love this city. And one day, when it finally pays off and I do buy that home (don’t rain on my pipe dream, people); it’s all going to be worth it.

Unlike me, however, my best friend (also a writer) chose to actually attend his high school reunion. He had to because he was the student council president (show off). And this is what he texted me the night of his reunion:

“Sasha Grey the porn star was at Crossfit today”

Wait, sorry, wrong text.

Okay, here it is:

“Survived my ten year… Life choices officially validated.”

I thought this was poignant advice that I could use as my own and save myself the $500 dollar expense of attending my reunion. Because despite the setbacks, and the occasional missteps, and the ten years without concrete substantial progress to rub in everyone’s faces back home, I still really love what it is I’m doing, even if sometimes the money doesn’t quite add up. Because, while it’s nice, it’s not the reason I wanted to become a writer (because that’s just stupid, everyone knows writers are poor).

I re-read my buddy’s text message. Nodded affirmatively to myself. And then texted back:

“Did you hook up with any fatties?”

Jason Benoit, Esq.

About Jason Benoit, Esq.

Jason Benoit is a young screenwriter based in Los Angeles, California. He has developed projects in both film and television with producers around town. He was reared on Cheetos and nightly doses of Tylenol PM and is adamant about attaching the suffix Esquire to his name. We've agreed to humor his request. Follow him on Twitter @jbenoitfilm

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