Sunday, June 10, 2012

I can't believe I survived

Yes, the wonderful 25th college reunion is coming next weekend. I've been thinking about seeing old friends, mostly my dear friend Eileen. Eileen is an incredible person who stuck with me through thick and thin - even stood up at my wedding. She moved out to Seattle when I moved out to Rochester. I haven't seen her in 15 years. I will most likely cry buckets of tears upon seeing her again.

If there is a DJ they should spin all the "good" tunes from the 80s; a sensible line up of tunes beyond top 40. When I was in college, MTV was just starting. All the "guilty pleasures" we hear sung on American Idol were the ones we danced to at frat parties. The "stoner" kids were listening to the Grateful Dead - you know, the band before Phish? The "cooler" kids were listening to alternative rock like R.E.M. and Talking Heads. My friend across the hall freshman year (Patty) introduced me to English Beat and UB40. Sweet love of God, I better hear some Prince while I'm there....

All this nostalgia. All these memories. I'm sure more will come flooding back when I smell the lingering oder of the paper mills - kind of like rotten eggs. It's not a particularly pleasant smell - but will trigger more memories, no doubt.

I hope to see some of the local sights that used to be taboo night time adventures: Senator Joseph McCarthy's grave. Harry Houdini's statue is in the downtown area, not too far from campus. And of course, there's doing "the avenue." That's what we called bar hopping. You started on one side of College avenue and worked your way down to The Cove. The drink you had to order at The Cove was the Vulcan Mind Probe: 1/2 ouzo, 12/ rum. Or a Long Island Iced Tea. Of course, you'd be wrecked by this point - but you'd have to stumble back through all the bars on the other side of the avenue. Inevitably, all drunks would end up crammed into Pat's Tap. There wasn't a lot of room. By the end of the night, the floor would be covered in peanut shells and the air thick with clove cigarettes.

Oh my gosh - remember Cleo's???? Christmas decorations all year round. I think at the 10th reunion, they were selling the bar. I grabbed one of the decorations. I still have it.

There was a small park next to Pat's. One would often hear a drumming session going on. Or people just pacing themselves. Hanging out - talking about everything and nothing.

It's a wonder to me I never saw anyone passed out on the benches that lined the campus walk ways between Pat's and any of the dorms. I always felt sorry for the kids who lived in Trevor Hall - man, that was a distance!

I wonder if the students working this reunion weekend are going to hear anything from my classmates like I did 25 years ago. In 1986, I was checking in the 20th reunion class of '66 who were staying at Trevor Hall. This one gentleman walked into the lobby, took in the scene and said in an all not too quiet voice, "Dude, I dropped my first quaalude in this lobby."


I'm sure our shared memories will be confessions and marvels of our own survival.


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