Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Reunion of Sorts

It is amazing how much time can slip by in a blink if you’re not really paying attention to it, and how the events transpiring within those forgotten years seem like ancient history, the kind of which happens to someone else; that is, until they blindside you on some random Monday afternoon, as they did to me last week.

My friend since the third grade, Scott, who has accompanied me on many adventures (most recently the concert de vomitorium two weeks ago), emailed me somewhat out of the blue to reminded me about all the glories associated with TurkeyBowl, an ad hoc football game among some old friends that was celebrating its 20th Anniversary this Thanksgiving. And would I like to attend this anniversary game? Since, after all, I was there at the first one in 1986 and a few every year after that, but the family was headed south to San Diego for the holiday and it would have to wait until next year. However, the Wednesday night before the big game has been marked by a gathering at a local tavern for ribbing, jocularity and pickling by the main principals of the game, namely several of my friends who have been organizing this game for two-thirds of their lives. To be quite honest, I didn’t even know they still played the game, or that they had been playing all these long years. Like I said, I went to the first few of them, but time and distance pays its tolls and I lost touch with the event.

In light of that, why not go, right?

At the last minute, I decided to go, drove up to J. Phillips (formerly Heroes) on D Street in La Verne and found a table in the middle of the bar, by myself, as I was the first one there. Or so I assumed. A half-hour passed, and I began to look like the sad pathetic friendless guy who is desperately searching for three acquaintances to fill the empty chairs at his table, and as the bar filled up (it is a college town, after all), I began to field dirty looks from parties of four who waltzed by looking for a place to sit down…and here I am, single, and hogging a perfectly square table and four solid chairs. Not to add to the pressure of being solitary in a group environment, but three individual servers implored me to order food, three individual times.

After all this, I nearly gave up, thinking that they changed their minds and went somewhere else without calling me (after all, my attendance did sound full of regrets when I spoke to Scott, whom said he was surprised to see me there, thinking I wasn’t going to come). I had decided to give it another fifteen minutes—a night out’s a night out and I would make the best of it. At least there was music and I could have fun vicariously through the fun of others, right? How sad.

Then I saw Chad Smith, or I thought I did. It looked like Chad Smith, but it didn’t look like what I thought Chad Smith would look like. He walked by my table and ducked behind a massive pillar (decorated with a boar’s head, naturally) to where the bar was. I hadn’t seen him in three years, and to his compliment, he had lost a lot of weight since I saw him before that, and so calling out his name in a crowded bar (by the lonely guy) would seem awkward if I were wrong. Then I saw Dom Covello, whom I haven’t seen in five years, but there is no mistaking Dom, like Dick Clark, he looks exactly as though he has forever, without change since the third grade, save for a few extra pounds of maturity and age. He was speaking with a waiter, and I assumed it was about obtaining table.

Again, I didn’t want to lose my table, as the vultures were forever circling, searching for a space to land, and (again), shouting across a crowded bar isn’t my forte, so I asked the waiter to give him my business card. Upon retrospect, I probably looked a little on the swishy side, a man giving another seemingly random man his business card in hopes of a meeting, but it did the trick: Out from behind the pillar appeared a few faces, to me that were lost in time.

It is nice to catch up with old friends. It was, in fact, Chad Smith, and he now lives in Redwood City (I think, Frisco area) and is into IT now. Dom’s little brother was there, and I say little brother in the sense that the last time I saw him he was probably 11 or 12 years old, an age he will always be. Nick’s 28 and works in the oil industry, but to me he’ll be the tag along little brother. After a while, Dave Gotto (above picture, seated on the left)and his wife Farrah showed up, as did Scott. Also, a face that I never would have expected to see was Rob Lowe (no, not the actor), whom I drove to school every day for almost six months our Junior year—he didn’t remember my face but it all came back to him when I uttered my name. Dave’s wife Farrah sat down at the other end of the table from us, with Chad and Dom’s wives, and they pretty much ignored us the whole night, which I thought to be very 1950s.

Needless to say, a merry time was had by all, and the conversation revolved mostly around football and the big game on the following day. The music, from one guy we labeled “The Machine” and his guitar, was loud, and we mostly had to shout (which I hate about bars), but the amusing part is that The Machine played for three solid hours, with only maybe a two-minute break from time to time.

My voice was hoarse from having to yell, and I missed some of the conversation, but I was sitting next to Scott so we swapped a few stories about this and that.

I didn’t stay that late. My bed beckoned, and considering I had a long drive home (30-plus miles) and a big Thanksgiving Day planned, I left around 11:30. I was the first of the table to leave, and I never like being that guy who breaks up the party early, but I was getting tired. In my truck, about a mile towards home, it dawned on me that I forgot to chip in for the check. I had two beers and a cheeseburger (I was famished), and I skipped out on the bill like a George Costanza. Was I too far away to make it worth while going back, taking the chance of being labeled a cheapskate until I see them again, maybe in a couple of years? Maybe they wouldn’t even notice. No, my conscious got the better of me and I turned around, drove all the way back, and ponied up the dough. Nobody noticed I had returned (or maybe that I actually left in the first place) so I gave the money to the trio of wives, who seemed most responsible at that late hour.

I will see them again in a year, no doubt, on the eve of the big game, a perpetual event that harkens us all back to a simpler time when all there was to occupy our minds was a football game on the morning of Thanksgiving. Of course I could always email them, but then again, they are the worst bunch of correspondents I have ever laid eyes on…but a good group of childhood friends a guy like me could have asked for, I’m sure.

1 comment:

Grant's Mom said...

Funny...very funny. I always enjoy reading your blogs!! See you soon at Matthew's Bday party...Grant is still talking about it! I think he liked the construction truck theme!


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