Saturday, August 19, 2006
It’s going to be hard to describe the weekend in July which was my 30th high school reunion. Because it many ways it was not just that – it was several reunions in one and of course coupled with the basic fact of coming back home.
I come back home at least three times a year – either for work or for Christmas or fantasy football – but this was really coming back home – it was “being in town” for several events – all nostalgic. And it was just that – a nostalgic cocktail of high proportions.
Friday night (“I had tears in my eyes”) was not only a happy hour for the reunion on later Saturday but also an 80th birthday celebration at a Galleria hotel for the father of a friend who I knew from my Steak & Ale days (you know, a medium scale restaurant that provides fine fare for reasonable prices) – and whose employ pretty much paid for college. That event is for another post, and it was fabulous in so many ways – but from a logistics position it did require picking up the parents and driving them back home before we made the happy hour. Which meant we already had done a great event, but now it was time for more.
Only children of the fifties know this.
We grew up just after the summer of love. All of the intoxicants of the 60’s were there for us in the 70’s (Class of “76). Hair was long, people were high, Catholic girls were – just not really Catholic girls, music sucked (in a popular vein but “underground” bands like Chicago - and seriously, at the time, they were - were cool and Led Zep ruled the day).
The happy hour was at Grisby’s Grill which was a bar/restaurant packed in a strip of the very same in a little trail in west Houston that I never knew about. I remember when we got out of the car bracing for the moment. Who would we see – who would we remember – who would remember me. And I had Deborah with me. Dragging a significant other to these things is always problematic but I assured her she would know some people from our Houston days. Still it was daunting.
Because I was Senior Class President – and in the previous reunions I was heavily involved – but when I moved to LA I bequeathed this responsibility to someone else who definitely wanted to do it. So it was like revisiting a play that you once directed. I used to be in control –now I was just a guest. How would this play?
When we walked in the door we saw Mud. Someone Deborah knew and my best bud from years gone by. Mud and Rock. Think about it. We once were on a bowling team with a guy whose last name was Rhodes. Mud, Rock and Rhodes. Almost like a State Farm commercial.
Mud and I didn’t know each other very well in high school but we became friends in college and were fast friends after that at work in Houston. We were staples at Cooters – a dance bar in the early 80’s – we were doing it. The fucking nicest guy in the world.
And he was my friend. I was later his best man at his wedding.
With Mud in tow Deborah’s fears of not knowing anybody abated and we were on to kibitzing. We hooked up with guys from A&M and just started giving each other hell. It was heaven. George, Jim, Rock and Mud. Keep your hands on your wallet.
Bar closed at midnight – onto some other place as we children of the fifties know it. Outside I ran into a girl I knew but didn’t know. That’s the deal with reunions, you forget people but people don’t forget you. It’s a life lesson all of the time.
She said to come to Shakespeare’s – a dive bar located on Memorial Drive – a road I know best as the road to go to church with my parents. Now – 30 years later- I’m gong to a dive bar. Hail Mary.
It’s a dump but a nice dump – the bar manifests most of the room, there is a three piece band playing decent music, and there are dumpy table to sit at all around. I see our table – it houses the quarterback of our football team, the running back, the cheerleader. It’s almost like lunch room again. Yes, while I did get elected President I was not cool at all. I was in marching band and the newspaper. I wasn’t a dork but I was not cool. That would take years later.
I saw the table. It was daunting. But I sat at it and started talking up the running back. I’m in sales and I’m 48 years old godammint. And the rest of the night was great. Deborah became fast friends with girl in the parking lot before and the quarterback thought she was cool. The night was complete. We later went to the Denny’s near my Steak & Ale and had breakfast with everybody in tow. We didn’t get home until four. And slept like angels..
The reunion was the next day but I didn’t care. Friday was everything.
Westchester Wildcats ’76. Houston, Texas.