Moon Dog Ball

A couple Saturdays ago I attended the Moon Dog Ball. I had befriended the neighbors next door to the friend whom I had been staying with and I managed to get an invitation to have drinks before the Moon Dog Ball. As you might infer from the name of the event, its intent was to raise funds for Four Paws animal rescue. The neighbor informed me that she had just bought a new party dress just for the occasion. If the event was to involve women in party dresses and there would be alcohol (rather unusual here in Mormon Counry), I was in.

I convinced my friend whose house I had just moved to that she too should come. She donned a fantabulous green long dress she had tailor-made in China. This was not a date, as she has a husband, who currently lives elsewhere. Unlike when I moved to a new city to become a professor, Green Dress has actually seen her spouse several times since moving and actually talks to him regularly. Her eyes light up when her phone plays his ring tone.

We had a great time at the pre-party with the neighbors. I was pleased to feel like an almost local and to have gotten my new housemate invited to a real party with people not affiliated with the university. Not bad for having been in town for less than two weeks.

As I contemplate actually living here in Logan, I find myself working again on my make-friends skills. This is a bit different from the talk-to-people-in-bars-and-campground skills that I have been refining since June of 2011. I have gotten pretty good at making single serving friends, but that did not require asking people for personal information–email addresses, phone numbers, or, really, even their names.

When I moved to Knoxville without the woman I was married to, I found myself, for the first time in years, responsible for making friends. (For a number of reasons, that responsibility had been the domain of said woman.) Sometime my first month there I had managed to get a party invitation where I met a couple of women whom I apparently told about my desire to meet people and have friends in Knoxville; one said “Oh, don’t worry, in a year or so you’ll have tons of friends!” The other concurred. I said that a year and a half was an unacceptable length of time to wait to have friends. I asked them both for their contact information. A decade later, we are still friends.

I once met someone at some large public event. She was enamored of Thor and invited me to a party that she and her husband were having. I wrote down the date and address. A month or later, I showed up for the party. Upon arrival, I sought out the hostess to say hello. “Uh, nice to meet you,” she said, clearly confused about just why I was at her party. I reminded her of the evening and Thor. “Oh! Wow. You really came.” It was a great party. Her husband had an awesome grill that held a whole pig.

There was also a huge bonfire. I share these two pictures mostly to show off that I can still find photographs from October 25, 2003.

It is time to hone those friend-making skills again, and it seems that I am not off to a bad start. After some delicious hors d’oeuvres with the neighbors, we caravanned to the Moon Dog Ball.

The Ball was at the Country Club, one that serves actual drinks. It was with some reluctance that I ordered drinks from the country club bar. Who knew how outrageously they would be priced? Green Dress too, having lived recently in L.A. and Philadelphia, was not sure about paying for drinks at the country club. She suggested that though her first drink was quite delicious that she could make good drinks at home. I threw caution to the wind and bought her another. Over the several hours we were there, we had between us several cocktails and a couple beers. The total, with a respectable tip, was under twenty bucks, about half what I might have expected. It may be hard to find alcohol in Logan, but when you do, it is reasonably priced.

There was a silent auction, in which I purchased a really cool gift for a family member. I would love to show it here, but it might ruin the surprise. Green Dress bought a mushroom tour with a local mycologist. We me the couple who had not yet redeemed the same prize from the previous year and made plans to perhaps take the trip together in the spring. There was a decent jazz band, and a rather bizarre and slightly-too-long performance by a local belly-dancing troop. One might imagine that Logan offers few opportunities for belly dancing performances.

As we were touring the offerings for the silent auction, I was stopped by a pair of women who said “Your wife’s dress is so beautiful.” I explained that she was someone else’s wife and endeavored to engage them in conversation. Their interest was in the dress. The theme of people being interested in the beautiful dress and disinterested in me was one that continued throughout the evening.

We did meet a woman in a striking red dress who is a language coach who teaches actors how to take on various accents. She was pretty fascinating and her husband was interesting too. They give me hope that one day I will have some cool friends here in Logan. I neglected to secure their names or contact information. I will need to work harder at those skills.

All in all, it was a good night. Here we are leaving the Ball.

Did you really read all the way down to here? If you have not already “liked” my iLiveInMyVan Facebook fan page, please click the link and then clicking the “like” button that’s just below the big photo. While you’re there, if you see links to stories that you like, consider clicking the “share” button (next to “like” and “comment” under each story) to post it on your own page. I have about 1/10 the views that I did a year ago and I am working to get my traffic back up. Thanks.

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Moving In, Moving Out

Sometime in the mid-90s when I was in grad school but before I and the woman I was married to bought a house, we had a friend’s son, a recent college graduate, come to stay with us for a while. We pointed him to a room and said he could stay there. When we looked into his room a short time later we were amazed at the transformation. I had forgotten that college kids are adept at quickly making a small place their own. I then recalled my own college days, when I drove Bessie, a 1972 Volkswagen bus (an older version of Walden, without the camping setup). With Bessie, I could transport a dorm room full of stuff. I even had a dresser that fit neatly in the back, once I had moved it into my new space, I was already unpacked.

Traveling in Walden, I try not to carry much that will not fit in Walden’s cabinets; the amount of stuff I carry in Walden is much less than the complement I carried in Bessie for a move to college or Camp. Now, even when I “move in” to a place for a week or more, I try to keep my impact on the environment minimal. I like to be able to move in and out in a minimum of time. When I was in Florida I got a little out of hand; somehow I ended up there with four guitars, three of them full-sized dreadnoughts. Before heading to Logan, I stashed a couple of guitars back in Birmingham.

For my first ten days in Logan, Utah, I had with an old friend from grad school (she and her husband were out of town for a week of that stay). This was long enough for me to unload a full complement of stuff. This includes, but is not limited to, a small desktop computer (set up as a music server) PA speakers, a guitar, clothes, two (or three) laptops, extraneous electronic gadgetry, a pair of gymnastics rings, and a 35 pound kettle bell (a pound short of a pood). It was time to make a move to another friend’s house, I realized that it was 9AM and that I had a meeting at 10:00. It was time to see if I could really make a full getaway in under an hour.

I almost made it. I forgot the rings and kettle bell, but other than that I pretty much collected all of my gear in under and hour. Here is everything staged to load into Walden.

Probably the most absurd thing that I consider “essential” are the huge speakers (my beloved K8s) and a duffel bag of cables, mics, and Mackie 802-VLZ3 mixer. More absurd is that under the back seat I also carry another small PA system (a Fishman SA220) that is sufficient for playing a small bar or good-sized coffee house. I have almost never used it, but am attached to the idea that at any minute I might need amplification for a guitar and mic. Plus, it fits so well under the seat.

Speaking of absurd, one of the things in the blue bag is a label maker. I have wanted it several times in the past six months and decided that it would make this leg of the trip. I have used it a few times and I am happy for it. For example, since I have two Acer laptops, I have two almost-matching power supplies. One is slightly smaller and is the one that I try to keep in my bag. The other stays at the house. Thanks to the label maker, I am now able to enforce this policy more easily.

My electronics bag is pretty well set up. It contains a Western Digital My Book, a 3TB hard drive that has an Ethernet port on it. I can plug this in to a router at my host’s domicile and have a little file server. The electronics bag also contains a couple portable hard drives, remote shutter release for my camera, my Squeezebox Touch (soon to get its own description in the Stuff I Love series), a spare memory card reader, plus miscellaneous cables and such. It might also contain my “big” laptop, that I bought in Portland when its predecessor’s screen was broken.

If you do not have one of those big Ikea bags made out of blue tarp material, you should consider picking one up if you find yourself in the Walmart of Sweden. The thing rolls up small, is strong, and holds lots of stuff. When making a quick trip into a house or motel, I can throw almost everything I need in and be on my way. On this particular day, it contains a small computer a set of sheets, random clothing that did not get packed in its appropriate place and I don’t know what all. On a good day I can put the hanging stuff on top of it and have it held in place by the handles, but it was too full for that. The shirts and jacket had to be toted on their own.

For the next move, I will endeavor to minimize the amount of random stuff in the Big Blue Bag.

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Stuff I love: QSC K8s (PA Speakers)

As the regular reader is aware, I accomplished downsizing my life the easy way, a house fire. All of my stuff now fits in Walden or my 10’x10′ storage unit in Knoxville. (Truth be known, I have a few things stashed in a few other places, either so that someone else can enjoy them or because I have more guitars than I want in Walden and my storage unit is not temperature controlled.)

After the fire, I sometimes used retail therapy when I got depressed, allowing myself to buy a number of things that I might not otherwise have. I did not buy a boat or a car (well, at least not right away), and if it was something that seemed “big” I would check in with a friend who seemed like she would tell me if I were being foolish. As a result, I may not have, for example, a bed, but I do have some things that continue to bring me considerable joy. As a rule, I think it makes more sense to spend money on experiences rather than things, but sometimes things can provide or enable experiences. This series will list some things that I have that bring me happiness.

According to my American Express bill, I bought these QSC K8s in October of 2010, just six weeks after the fire. (They cost about $700 each. I also bought a matching powered sub-woofer, which I have not used since moving out of The Rental. It’s awesome too, but not that practical for long-term storage in Walden, and really, these things pump out a lot of bass. When I again have a house, though, it is a good bet that the bass will again be bompin’.) Each of these speakers has a 1000 watt amplifier built in. This means that all you have to do is plug the thing into the wall and connect some kind of audio source to it. It has connections for two line- or mic- inputs plus RCA inputs that you can connect something like an MP3 player to. Each of these speakers weighs a scant 27 pounds, making them easy to carry. Both of them fit end-to-end in the back of Walden, taking up under a foot of my sleeping space.

I love these things. Not only do they provide enough sound to play a gig in a venue bigger than I can imagine booking without someone else providing the sound, but also they let me set up an incredibly awesome sound system in anywhere I might temporarily descend. Setup is simple and takes less than 5 minutes. Back when I was in The Rental, I tried to see just how loud they would get in the 25’x40′ room in which I set up a stage. It was spectacular. Really, these things are louder than I can ever imagine needing music to be.

The experience they afford is to be able to sit in a chair and crank up music so loud that it feels like that Maxell ad from the 1980s.

To be able to arrive at someone’s house and in short order be able to be sitting down and listening to, say, Thelonious Monk, at the same loudness that one might have heard it in the club in which he was playing is a true joy. I recently sat down with my cousin and did just that, cranking up an album he knew well to what I imagined club volume would have been, just loud enough that we had to lean over and speak really loudly in order to hear each other. He was confused because he heard someone talking, as if they were at the next table. In spite of having listened to the album dozens or hundreds of times, he had never noticed that aspect of the recording. That was a good night.

Playing The Who loud enough that I can see Peter Townshend doing a windmill in my mind’s eye can also bring a smile to my face, and I am not a huge fan of The Who.

If you are someone for whom music is so important that dropping $1400 on a pair of speakers does not seem entirely crazy, I think you would be pretty happy if you bought a pair of these. You might also consider the K10s or K12s, but the small size and huge volume from the K8s is pretty fantastic, and even without the sub, they are pretty fantastic. Did I mention that they are fantastic?

If you think that having access to 2000 Watts of amplification or that paying what I paid for my first car on a pair of speakers is sheer lunacy, you might instead enjoy the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 Speakers.

These bad boys have two 35 Watt amps plus a 130 Watt subwoofer. They are sold as computer speakers, but they are pretty darned impressive for just about any purpose. Back in The Rental I had them set up in the living room. Now they are at a friend’s house. Every time I visit, they say that if I want those speakers back, they will have buy me a new pair. They love them so much that they do not want to part with them. One might wonder why I carry the K8s rather than the much smaller computer speakers. Sure, those Klipsch speakers are much smaller, but they are not designed to be road worthy, and besides, what if I book a gig in a huge hall? If you live in a house without wheels, though, these little things are a good way to go. And, really, they get louder than most people ever want music to be.

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Planning a Reunion? Here are some ideas.

Here are a few random things that occurred to me as I experienced and reflected on my reunion. None of these are intended to slight the organizers of my reunion. Everyone agreed that they did a great job, and some of my “ideas” are things that they did. Many of these ideas may be infeasible, as I have not really thought them through. They may or may not be of help in planning another reunion. They are in no particular order.

Consider corporate sponsorships

A number of people whined about the overpriced drinks at The Club. It was not about the money, exactly (and they weren’t really that expensive). It occurred to me that one or more of our clan might be affiliated with businesses that could have dropped a grand or two to subsidize our fun in exchange for some publicity.

Consider scholarships

For most of us, the $65 that the affair cost was not a big deal, especially with ten years to save up for it. For at least one, who came only to Friday’s Football game, it seemed that it was cash kept him from attending our Gala Event on Saturday. I am not sure how an organizer would deal with scholarships, but it might be worth a try.

Have a Public Event

Our Friday night football game and after-party at a local watering hole largely accomplished this. It allowed folks who didn’t have cash for the Gala to see folks, but more importantly allowed some other folks to come in and see people. It occurred to me that with a little more advertising, this event might have attracted people a couple years older or younger than us. Especially for people who traveled to the reunion and have little else to do in town, another informal Saturday gathering at a restaurant–or several, one for each elementary school–might be a good idea.

Invite people who didn’t graduate, esp those who transferred

At least one person who had graduated from another school asked if she could attend (and did, if I’m not mistaken). I have no idea how one would track down these people or what to put on their name tags where our Senior Pictures were, but given that many of the best re-connections were with folks we had known when we were much younger, including these folks seems like a good idea.

Consider an event that does not involve alcohol

One person I talked to mentioned that he or she does not drink and hanging out with people drinking is not much fun. Our football game was an alcohol-free event, for example.

Invite faculty

I don’t know just how to track these people down. It would have been fun to see my high school physics teacher or my band director, but not my elementary school science teacher. Actually, 35 years later, even she would be interesting to see.

Wear sensible shoes

One female friend related, “I think my main objective that night was to just take the damn high heals off, I was miserable. ”

The End

Here endeth my reunion notes. Thanks to all for reading, commenting, and relating your experience. If my stories did not convince you to think twice about skipping your 30th, I will close with this comment from a friend from another class.

“It really is weird to become friends with people you spent so many years trying to avoid.”

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Overheard at a Reunion

Here are a few little tidbits that for one reason or another, did not fit in to the previous reunion stories.

Courtney “Cece” Cox, whom you may have seen on a Springsteen video or Friends (a popular sitcom) was in my graduating class. At one point I walked up to a group of people and said “Oh, did you guys see Cece?” “What? She’s here?” No. No she was not, but I had them going for a few seconds. I heard from someone who attended a sorority brunch earlier in the day that “her assistant” had proffered Cece’s regret. I was happy to hear that few people in our class do maintain contact and periodically go hang out with her in LA (the one in California, not Lower Alabama). Cece had related to someone that she felt disconnected or something. It sounded like she stayed home for the same reason that so many of my decidedly less popular friends had avoided the event.

This conversation I somehow heard only half of. I was facing the person I heard, who was in conversation with someone behind me. I am not sure how or why I did not turn to be part of the entire conversation, but here is how his half went.

“No, I am not divorced. I never met a man that I was willing to risk divorcing.”

The other party must not have understood. Perhaps my friend was being a bit too clever for them.

“No, you see, I have never met a man that I wanted to marry.”

Apparently this was still confusing, so he just had to say it again, this time a bit more slowly.

“I have never met a man that I wanted to marry.”

That conversation dropped off. From my vantage point, it was not clear whether the interlocutors ever understood that this man was gay. I had not known he was gay, though I thought so (I was glad that he was not interested in women; he had not only hair, but also a job!). I was happy to hear him say that he was gay. I inferred that his saying out loud that he was gay was no big deal, and that he had been out for a long while. He was similarly comfortable saying that he was a democrat, which would likely also have befuddled his interlocutors. To me hearing him say this was significant. I have another friend whom I see from time to time. When I last saw him, he asked about my love life and provided an extended synopsis of the previous few years. When I asked him about who he was dating he responded as if the notion of his dating was an absurdity, or, perhaps, something that I could not understand.

Another striking conversation involved one of the few people in our lily white community who was Asian. With over thirty years between who we were then and who we are now, he was able to talk about how it had sometimes been hard growing up in our little world, and, that he was sometimes called “Chink.”

“But everybody liked you!” responded someone who, as likely as not, had been one of those using that epithet. I knew that Name Caller meant that everyone liked Asian Guy. Asian Guy was significantly higher up the popularity scale than was I. It was my take that as a kid, Name Caller had little idea what Chink meant (e.g., Asian Guy was not Chinese), and even less about how much names hurt. Thirty-five years later, though, they were able to talk about the name-calling intellectually as if it happened to different people. From what I inferred from attendees of previous reunions, this thirty-year distance is what makes a 30th reunion better than the 10th and the 20th. With so much time in between, it is possible to forgive–if not forget–past injustices, large and small, and see people for who they have become. Thirty years allowed some of us to meet as strangers tied together by a common past. Or, as one friend reflected, “It really is weird to become friends with people you spent so many years trying to avoid.”

Postscript: A childhood friend who read these posts but did not attend the reunion related that “It is a well-known fact that Cutest Girl has a fetish for ironed pants. If you had only known! Damn your cousin for discouraging ironing.” And that is how it goes, love lost by a seemingly salubrious sartorial slight.

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Reunion, Part 8: The party never stops

Around midnight, after the reunion proper ended and the flowers had been taken to their cars, a group of us headed to a bar. There were perhaps as many as twenty there when I arrived. We hung out there a while longer. Just as I was settling in there, the lights came up. For the second night in a row, I had closed down a bar.

To the remaining die-hards, I recommended that we go drink a bottle of champagne on the playground at our old elementary school. There were six of us remaining, five of us had been to Crestline; we allowed the sixth as an honorary member of our Crestline Club. Having her established gender parity, and besides, she was cute.

As good an idea as hanging out on the playground was, we were, after all, in our late forties. We decided instead to go to someone’s house who lived near the school. A caravan was formed.

En route, it occurred to me that the last time I had been with these people in one room was late in elementary school. When we hit junior high, our little cliques grew further apart, diluted by four elementary schools combined into a big amalgam (of rich white people). This night somehow felt like going to one of those first boy-girl parties, maybe one where the parents were out of town. Being put in that frame of mind, and given that this late-night group was (somewhat predictably) all single, it seemed to me that we should play adolescent games like Twister or Spin the Bottle.

At our destination, I disembarked, grabbing a bottle of sparkling wine out of the fridge. Inside the house, after a brief tour, we found glasses and settled in to the living room.

We had a lovely evening, with conversations switching from the whole group to smaller subsets and back again. At some point I returned to Walden for a second bottle of bubbly. We reminisced about our elementary school days. I was pleased to learn that everyone hated Ms. Douglas, our science teacher, as much as I had. We talked about various characters of our youth, like the bully who had picked on several of us and had some years later, as legend had it, set fire to the school library. We remembered taking ballroom dancing, the highlight of which was the sprint to Pascuale’s pizza while wearing our coats, ties, and party dresses.

We agreed that re-connecting with our childhood friends was the most satisfying part of the reunion and talked of having a reunion for just our elementary school.

I did once give an empty champagne bottle a spin on the coffee table, but it was stopped before it was allowed to come to a stop. As our tongues got tired, we checked the clock and saw that it was after four. . . No. Really. Six people, pushing fifty, all stayed up well past 4AM. As the clock struck five, the reunion was over.

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Reunion, Part 7: Closing Down

If you missed the previous installments, I went to a party at a dinner club with a bunch of 48-year-olds. Women who did not want me when I was eight had not changed their minds.

One highlight of the evening was that I talked to two girls who had grown up on my street. As we reminisced, I my mind drifted somewhat from the conversation as I noticed how those little girls had become strikingly beautiful women. My attention was snapped back to the conversation when one of them squealed “We used to fight over who would get to marry you!” Though their rivalry–and their desires–had long since subsided, it was good to know that when I was six, I had something going on. I then remembered a game of “I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours” in the woods behind my house, though I thought it better not to bring it up, as I would not want to crush the feelings of the one who had not been invited. Later, in the safe disconnectedness that is Facebook chat, I mentioned our little game to the other player. She claimed to have no memory of disrobing in my presence. She remembered the plans for marriage; I remembered the nudity. I guess that is how we were different.

I ran into a friend whom I had not known well in high school, but had been my roommate in college. It was great to see him and meet his beautiful new wife.

As the evening got later, I asked the bartender for a glass of ice, which I surreptitiously filled my flask, mostly because I could. Well, that, and I like Scotch. Well, that and paying $9 for a splash of Scotch seemed silly.

For a few minutes in the evening, I made a half-hearted attempt at playing photographer. I got a few good ones, but in retrospect I wish that I had made a more concerted effort to intentionally take pictures for, 15 or 30 minutes. I am becoming a decent photographer. It would have been fun to see what I could have done had I tried a bit harder and whether that is something that I might one day want to do for money. I posted twenty-five or so photos to the Facebook group (if you are in my class and not a member of the Facebook group and would like to see them, send me an email). I would rather have had more better pictures.

Before I knew it, the place was closing down. The bartenders disassembled their stations. The lights came up. The staff was actively trying to clear us out. I prolonged my stay by helping tote all of the centerpieces and other decorations out to the valet parking area. A group of us decided on a bar that was on the way home. I got a ride from the valet area to where I had parked Walden. I was glad for that, too, as I am not sure I could have found my way.

I loaded in to Walden and headed to the bar.

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Reunion, Part 6: The Girl U Want

If you didn’t read the previous five reunion posts and would rather not, here’s a synopsis: One time, at a reunion, I was in a picture with four women who were very close to forty eight years old.

Soon after the photo with the beautiful women I had a conversation with yet another fetching woman, whom, judging by jewelry she was not wearing, appeared to be single. Upon learning that I was available she took interest in finding someone who would consider me a suitable suitor. I decided to be flattered at her claim that I was “a catch” rather than focus on the fact that she left herself right off of that list. She had a suggestion. I knew that woman. We had become friends, in the Facebook sense, sometime earlier. She seemed attractive and what she presented on Facebook piqued my interest. Further, I had interacted with her In Real Life the previous evening. I was hoping to talk to her some more this evening, especially now that the Cutest girl had passed up her chance. “Yes,” I told my matchmaker, she seems quite like someone with whom I might click, but, here’s the thing. I don’t believe in God.”

“Oh, that could be a problem,” Matchmaker replied.

I was pretty darned religious earlier in life. For three summers I worked at Camp McDowell, run by the Episcopal church. For two years I was head counselor. While my staff was tending to the kids in their cabins, I interviewed priests about how they were called, what it was like to be a priest, and whether they liked it. After many heart-felt conversations with over a dozen priests, I thought that I too might be called to do the work of God.

As my time as head counselor was coming to a close, I had a conversation with our bishop, a man whom was literally awesome. When I was with him. I was filled with awe. He said he wanted to talk to me, I assumed about matters having to do with Camp. In the course of that conversation he asked what I was planning to do after college. I explained my plan to apply to jobs at independent schools. “After you have done that for a few years,” the Right Reverend Stough inquired, “where were you thinking of going to seminary?”

I was supremely flattered and excited. Even the memory of the conversation still makes my heart swell.

For a number of reasons, however, I never made it to seminary. Today, as I look at the number of problems in our world caused by religion, I have a hard time thinking that religion is good. Still, I embrace lots stuff that I taught and learned at church camp, and a lot of who I am is due to the values and love that I got from the Episcopal church. In other words, I live my life the same way that I did when I believed in God, but for me, I do not need God to do it.

One day, years ago, when I was a professor giving advice to someone about how he or she should move forward with academic life it occurred to me that I would have been a good priest. I like helping people live better lives. I like public speaking. I like building communities and throwing parties. These seemed like the skills that would make a good leader of a church. After all, we know that Jesus liked to party, what with that water into wine stuff.

So, in spite of my not believing in God I thought that perhaps a religious woman could see the spiritual part of me and could gloss over my not believing in God.

Then I thought some more. I think I might be amenable with some versions of God, say “God is Love.” I believe in love. I think it is a really good thing. I think that we should all love each other. If you want to call that God, then I can go with that. The notion that there is some omniscient omnipotent being that is calling the shots, however, seems patently absurd. Like Gandhi, I like Jesus; it’s Christians I have a hard time with. I honestly like to think that I follow the example that Jesus set, but I have a hard time believing that one night he sat down to dinner with his best friends and said, “Hey guys, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get killed tomorrow. I am really happy that we are all together tonight. Here’s what I want you to do. From now on, when you eat, pretend that what you are eating is me, my flesh. You know, because, really, cannibalism is totally hip. And when you drink wine, pretend that it is my blood, because, well, vampires are awesome. Sound good? One day you guys should write this stuff down.”

Even if I live my life no differently from when I believed in God enough to devote my life to her, I suspected that my holding these beliefs could be a problem for someone for whom these beliefs are very important. Bummer.

Nevertheless, I wanted Ms. Devoted to know that I thought that I found her both attractive and interesting. She replied that she thought that I was cute and was somewhat interested. “But I don’t believe in God,” I felt obliged to add.

“I can’t save you!” she replied.

Save me? From what? I thought, I’m happier and healthier than I remember being. Sure I don’t have a house or a job, but only because I do not want or need those things now. My life is fantastic. I am not a guy who needs to be fixed in order to be a warm and loving person. . . oh, “save?” as in “I once was lost and now I’m found?” I never needed that. I was baptized as an infant. Sure, my belief in God may have abated, but if I were to believe in God, I would also know that I was always part of the tribe. One day when I was an infant, a couple hundred people stood before God, me, and a bishop. They all took an oath that I would grow up knowing how to follow the ways of Jesus. I think they succeeded. I thought it better not to say any of that, though.

“Wow. That’s too bad,” she said. “I thought that I could like you.” With that she gave me a hug and a chaste, but sweet, kiss on the lips and disappeared into the crowd.

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Reunion, Part 5: The Club

If you missed the other Reunion posts, you should consider reading them first (if you are on the home page you can just scroll down, otherwise, you can click these: 1, 2, 3, 4). Synopsis: I went to my reunion. I didn’t think it’d be that fun. It at first seemed that I was right. I ended up talking to people (some of whom claimed to read my blog), being excited to see who people had become, and closing down a bar at 1AM. I thought I would be home by ten. This was not quite what I had expected.

With my name tag in place and drink tickets in hand, I headed in to the party. At the door someone was offering some kind of limoncello thing. I demurred, still distracted with the whole drink coupon thing, and not wanting to waste a ticket on such, and unable to deal with interacting with the person dispensing the cocktail.

Just inside the main room I ran into a guy who played trumpet in the band. He asked me if I drank alcohol. Obviously he had not been reading my blog. I replied in the affirmative. He seemed disappointed. It turned out that the limoncello cocktail that I had just eschewed was gratis and gratifying. He was recruiting people who would go get additional cocktails for his wife to whom I had just been introduced. With this new information, I decided to revisit the limoncello station. He was right. It was free, fizzy, and fantastic. I later went back and got another. Contrary to his apparent belief, there was no system in place to enforce a one-per-customer policy, or really, any indication that such a policy was in place.

Drink in hand, I looked around for the Cutest Girl at Crestline. The previous night I learned that she was a teacher and appeared to be single. I had hoped that though I never had a chance to be with her in elementary school, that now, being reasonably fit and possessing both hair and a Ph.D. would be worth something. There she was. I walked up to a conversation en medias res. I’m not sure that I was acknowledged. The conversation I stepped in to felt a bit awkward, though I had been standing there too long to just walk away by the time I realized it. The and-what-have-you-been-up-to questions should have been innocuous, but her marriage had recently ended. There seemed to be one clumsy question after another. The inquisitors walked away, and as I was composing a clever and empathetic way to say “golly, that was awkward, they obviously haven’t lived through a divorce like you and I” she excused herself. Apparently a good haircut and an advanced degree was not enough. Disappointed, I mused that her disinterest was because of her own internal struggle, not because of anything having to do with me.

Sure the Cutest Girl was still cute, in looking around the room, I was struck by how attractive the women were. I am not quite sure how I was invited to be part of this photograph, but I was quite pleased to be in the midst of such beautiful women my own age.

This was shaping up to be a good night.

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Reunion, Part 4: Getting to Thee Club

If you missed the other Reunion posts, you should consider reading them first (if you are on the home page you can just scroll down, otherwise, you can click these: 1, 2, 3). Synopsis: I went to my reunion. I didn’t think it’d be that fun. It at first seemed that I was right. I ended up talking to people (some of whom claimed to read my blog), being excited to see who people had become, and closing down a bar at 1AM. I thought I would be home by ten. This was not quite what I had expected.

Saturday night was the Big Night. It was billed as “The Club, Dinner and Dancing 7-11pm (cash bar).” Several further communiques explicated that “cash bar” meant that you had to use actual US legal tender, not any other paper or plastic proxies that so many today have come to count on. A subsequent Facebook post enumerated the drink costs (“Soft drinks – $4, Wine/Beer – $7, and Liquor – $9.”), but failed to reiterate the whole “dinner” part. I asked whether dinner was included and assured our hostesses that I would have cash and maybe a flask. A response came soon that said yes to the dinner and no to the flask. It was at this point that I decided the flask was a must.

It turned out that the bar itself took only tickets, purchased from high school students, who exchanged said tickets for cash.

The Club is a private club overlooking Birmingham. To distinguish it from other clubs in Birmingham, people know to pronounce this one THEE Club. I was sure that I had attended some event at “THEE Club” in the past, but was at a loss to remember what it could have been.

In my youth, if someone said that they were going to “the club,” without accenting “the,” which rhymes with “uh,” it meant the Country Club of Birmingham, or just the “country club.” I swam at the country club when I was little, played golf a few times when I was twelve or so, and attended a coming out party or two there in high school after my mom stopped sustaining our membership. It was at the country club that my grandmother made sure that I knew to stand when a woman (she probably would have said “lady”) approached the table. Such pomp and circumstance seemed supremely silly at the time, but when I turned forty, standing when a woman approached my table was a very useful skill.

The event’s Facebook page had included considerable discussion about proper dress. Just like in the ballroom dancing classes I attended with my Crestline classmates in 6th grade, coat and tie were required. Not having a proper sports coat on board Walden down in Florida, I made a special trip to the Brooks Brothers outlet to procure a blue blazer.

Somewhat earlier than I needed to I showered and dressed, including my tie and new blazer. I had to trim the tie; Thor’s kitty had somehow gotten his grubby little paws on it and had shredded the edges. As I had the day before, I had my cousin check that I was appropriately dressed. I suggested that perhaps I should iron my pants, but she said that ironing was superfluous. I think it was just because she didn’t want to find her iron, but I was relieved, as I didn’t want to iron anyway.

After I had a glass of wine with my cousin and husband, I headed out. I had checked the Google. I was pretty sure I knew where the place was, at least until I got there. I passed the turn for the place. Twice. I finally made it up there. I parked in some parking lot. I thought there had been some mention of valet parking, but I do not really like having other people driving Walden anyway.

I parked Walden and walked in. It turned out that I should have looked harder for the valet parking entrance, as it took ten minutes and asking half a dozen people where I was supposed to go.

I finally found my way to the correct room. There I checked that my address was correct on some mailing list. I neglected to mention that I have never actually lived at my current “permanent” address. As I checked my address I was reminded of a story that I had heard the previous night; at the 20th reunion such a list had been given to everyone and one guy had reportedly called every woman on the list at least once a year for most of the intervening decade. His calls were somewhat less than welcome.

I picked up a name tag that had my name and my senior photo, bought a few drink tickets, and headed in to see what the night had to offer.

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