Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Big Chill Weekend

It may be Fall, but we’re actually planning a short trip back to the Jersey shore for a long weekend with some friends.

We were going to go with some enemies, but decided against it because it’s always so hard to make dinner plans with enemies….

Plus they think nothing of using all your clean towels.

So we’re going with friends.

We’ve done this for quite a while now, in one form or another...but not in the last two years, because, you know…that silly restraining order.

We’re an odd group in that most of the men all went to the same High School, and were even in the same class. A few of us, even the same grammar school.

The same with most of the women, but of course they attended a different school, because of the Catholic thing.

Can’t put boys and girls together because…heaven forbid…someone might drop a knee sock.

Anyway, even though we’ve all been in close proximity to one another for decades, some of the current friendships didn't always stretch that far back. They seasoned in their own time, like most things worth keeping, and are all the richer for it today.

Connections were made, and sometimes lost, but all in all, the core of us still remain…and we don’t take each other’s towels…usually.

It’s funny how we all came together, back in the late 70’s. A little weird in a cosmic roll of the dice sort of way, actually.

I had already been dating Z for about 5 years, at the time, while most of my friends, Lotharios all, had been breaking hearts all over the east coast. 

Well, at least that’s how they would probably like to remember it.

Back then, being all of 24 and still limber of limbs, we, the guys, were pretty big into playing softball. We played in organized leagues and even had a more informal, weekly pick-up game at the local college, which mostly entailed drinking beer and trying not to puke while running.

As was our custom, after one such beer game we wandered down the hill to our local tavern, because all that running usually made us even thirstier.  Some of us walked into the bar, relatively inoffensive in sight and smell, but still wearing the sweat and grime of 7 innings. Others went home to shower, including one particular fellow, who was not in the habit of doing so. He was also humming a show tune from "West Side Story” as he drove offeven more peculiarbut we put it off to dehydration.

Okay, I made that part up. It wasn’t “West Side Story”; it was really something from “Sweeney Todd.  So maybe it wasn’t all that odd….

Anyway, on the other side of the bar, in the booth directly across from the rest of usthe great unwashed—sat two women, one consoling the other over a relationship gone awry.

One of the guys in my booth looks up and recognizes the consolee, as he was, at one time, another of her relationships, gone awry.

Not that there was a pattern here or anything. Just a fluky coincidence type thing.

I swear….

Anyway, the short version is: this former boyfriend, soon to be married to another…at least for a weekend or two…slides across the aisle and settles in for a chat next to his currently broken hearted ex, who may or may not have been pleased to see him.

This part of the story pretty much ends there, and while not particularly crucial to what follows, does provide context.

Soon after, some of the more hygienically correct folks stumble in and re-join us. They see this booth of two un-attached women, with one of their own already ensconced, the ice broken, liquor flowing, and immediately join the festivities, which to me, observing this phenomena from across the aisle—mostly so I could write about it 34 years hence—was odd, since the majority of these guys had already been measured for monastic robes.

One thing leads to another—mostly drink orders— the guys fawn over the women, the showered guy ends up marrying the consoler, who introduced her cousin to someone, who introduced another friend to another friend, who brought in another friend…until a week and a half ago, when we all found ourselves sitting around a table at the wedding of two of our own’s son, which was another odd experience, at least for me, since I had trouble locating the table where all the old people usually sit at weddings. At least the weddings I remember from 25 years ago.

Go figure….

And as I sat there boogeying to the music with this group of friends, which, over the years, has evolved more into a family than friends, including the initial consolee and consoler, I thought about that night, 34 years ago, and how most of us would not have been together on this day, in this exact way, had it not been for the pain of one broken heart. Nor would there have been numerous marriages and a good number of kids who now walk around with college diplomas.

But that’s how life goes. Every moment brings another...every action brings a reaction.

Even when you least expect it...especially when you least expect it.

And in this case, 34 years later, we’ll reassemble in a couple of  weeks, back at the beach, for a “Big Chill” weekend…minus the body. 

Well, there was that one time, but that only turned out to be indigestion, and we hadn’t completely buried his head under the sand before he woke up….

And like I said that restraining order’s been lifted.

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