Reunions are odd things. School, College, workplace and family ones all offer similar stuff: not just the chance for catching up with folk you haven't seen for ages (sometimes it turns out that there's a good reason for estrangement) but also time for some sneaky "who's been ageing with least grace" bitchiness (don't deny it, you do that too, I'm sure). Weddings, funerals, bahmitzvahs, christenings, even conferences – all these deliver our super social ape with a great chance to show off their amazing skills.
25 years ago this summer, I "went down" (i.e. left) Oxford University (hardly seems that long, does it?). That landmark led me to attend last night's reunion or "gaudy" in my old college. And I'm glad I did (though my head might challenge that this morning, if could only stop pounding…)
Lots of lovely people that I hadn't expected to see there – you know who you are – and lots of fun and laughter had but amid all the reminiscing and gossip stuff that super social apes do on such occasions we demonstrated the we-(or distributed) memory function.
N couldn't remember the surname of an old boyfriend. Nor could I. But we asked around and within half an hour, we had the name and between us pieced together the story of where he is and so on.
A good social animal outsources cognitive functions like this from individual to group to release the burden and be able to devote more of it to…oh, yes, other people