Monday, October 19, 2009
OMG, wake me when I’m sober, I mean when it’s over!
I just survived (on VERY little alcohol, I might add) what turned out to be almost 72 hours with almost the same number of my husband’s fraternity brothers plus spouses. Forty years after leaving college (a nationally-renowned engineering school in the Missouri University system) these aging baby boomers gathered here to reminisce, reunite, and remember what they experienced at Rolla, Missouri in the 1960s and ‘70s.
We began with a happy hour that turned into dinner and beyond on Thursday night with one couple who came in from two states away (Indiana) for the occasion, and another couple who recently moved back to St. Louis after 41 years in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The men kept telling each other how little they had changed, and the women tried to keep straight faces. I love these women!
One of the couples had gotten married when they were in college, so everyone but Mrs. Indiana and I had lots of memories of the campus, the fraternity house, and the escapades that went on in that den of iniquity. It was a terrific evening that was filled with great stories of days gone by. My own husband’s abs hurt the next day from laughing so hard over dinner.
On Friday we met the same couples and a handful of additional brothers who were arriving from New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Kansas City and more. We gathered in the hotel bar at about 3 p.m., moved into a restaurant for dinner, and hung out till nearly midnight. The crowd grew as more and more of the old fraternity members showed up to relive old times. Everyone found it hard to say goodnight.
The Saturday bash was the main event. One of the alums had rented the clubhouse of his subdivision for the day, so the party started at about 2 in the afternoon. Hours were spent poring over the old house scrapbooks, exclaiming over how young everyone was FORTY-SOME years ago! Most of us had to admit to putting on weight, although there were some notable exceptions. (Go, Kenny and Chuck!) The party was punctuated by a slide show that provided a nice walk down memory lane.
People were kind to each other, but there were numerous observations of the ubiquitous receding hairlines, disappearing hairlines, and expanded waistlines. The clothes we wore, the neckties, --scary stuff!
Party Weekend—the recurring theme that the ‘boys’ wanted to dwell on. The one weekend per quarter when they brought dates to campus from St. Louis, or Columbia, or wherever they could find them for a bash at the fraternity house. There were virtually no females on their campus, so the girls were highly prized upon arrival! Of course Purple Passion, Spolioli, kegs of beer, and Colt 45 played a large part in their festivities. Has anything changed?
Raucous laughter reigned throughout the evening, and although some occasionally found themselves arguing over politics and the state of the world, it was all done with respect and consideration for the other guy’s viewpoint. And it was all done to the backdrop of a soundtrack put together by my hubby—great Motown sounds, Simon and Garfunkel, and the hits just keep on comin’.
By the evening’s end (close to midnight) a chorus of men, once young, stood arm in arm and sang their old, nearly-forgotten fraternity songs. (Lyric sheets had been provided to help failing memories!) I had become fast friends with the Indiana wife with whom we shared dinner on Thursday night. (Yo, Phyllis!) We planned to meet for breakfast Sunday before they (and most of the others) had to hit the road.
Eight of us met next morning for yet another meal, and there was never a break in the conversation. Lots of catching up to be done before we all said goodbye. And there was one more final goodbye to be said.
One of the chapter’s founding members had suffered a massive heart attack a week before the reunion. Just before that, however, he submitted his “personal info update” to the scribe who put together a spiral-bound book of short bios, most with photos. Dave’s was the first page of the book, and he was clearly looking forward to being a part of this weekend’s activities. Sadly, he passed away Friday afternoon, and his presence was sorely missed. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when our host tried valiantly to read Dave’s obituary. To the eternal credit of these guys, those who could turned out in that Sunday sunshine to pay tribute to their lost brother at a poignant and touching graveside service.
It was a good reminder to love each other well, make every day count, and not wait 40 years for the next reunion.