For the last time ever, dozens of my college friends – and plenty of wives and girlfriends – congregated last weekend at a plantation near the Delaware River for the long-delayed 61st birthday of our ultimate main guy of the entire era, Silly Willy Reynolds.
I say last time because, based on life expectancy trends, at least a handful of us won’t be able to attend Will’s every-ten-years birthday bash when he’s 70 because we’ll already be dirt napping. So this was our last hurrah unless our friend Brad, who has a crazy big pad on the Chesapeake Bay, decides to have another one of these lovefests in a couple of years. So much to look forward to.
I wouldn’t normally write about a party after a party because we’ve all moved on to our next frontiers today: work Zoom calls and retirement living on Long Beach Island if you’re Steve Marano.
Steve impressed me this past weekend. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to be spending more time with me over the next few years regardless of whether Brad comes through.
During Will’s party, Steve did his usual bulldozing past small talk.
“So, what do you do for a living? What was your job before this one? Did you get fired? Why did they fire you? How much money do you make? What’s your greatest disappointment? I made a ton of money. Nothing else matters but making a ton of money.”
Steve bullshits about topics that most people don’t consider bullshittable.
This got me thinking. Was my close encounter with myself prompted by Steve’s questions the highlight of this last party?
Steve jolted me and amused me, but his behavior only gets him an Honorable Mention on this upcoming list of Top 10 Lowlights of this final party of our lives.
In descending order, here are the Top 10 Lowlights:
- Rob Simons standing with me and some other fellas checking out his old college flame Lisa (now married) and telling us he wanted to dance with her because he had had a romantic evening at our college prom back in 1983. He wanted one more last dance to rekindle an old fire that had been burning inside him for the last 39 years. So Rob, being the most aggressive socially of any of us still, grabbed Lisa, pulled her to the floor, and had one final swing around the world with her. We watched. And wondered what Rob’s life would have been like had he stayed with Lisa. Would they have moved to London? Would he have become an actor? Would Lisa ever really understand Rob?
- Minutes before dinner, Jimmy Mac had an opportunity to tell us all that he would be glad to counsel any of us about anything in our lives that we are wrestling with spiritually. Being a Deacon of the Catholic Church, it would have been natural for him to open this figurative door before he said the blessing before our meal. But instead, the man committed to serving others said: “I don’t wanna talk with any of you.”
His comment seemed out of place, incongruent.
- Marano does make this Lowlights hit list for ripping Ripley at the hotel after the party by the pool that no one swam in except Sportface. You see, Marano had two girlfriends while at Wake Forest, one from the school and one old reliable back home. One night, said Marano, Ripley snaked on him with Steve’s Wake chick. “She came on to me,” said Rip. Forty-one years after this indiscretion and disloyalty to a friend, Marano would not stop re-telling this story to us. None of us cared. It could not have been less relevant nor less compelling. But Steve was still working through the feelings of despair from four decades prior. And we had to go on his emotional journey.
- As we fought through our next morning hangovers during breakfast yesterday, Sammy Sportface was feeling inquisitive and looking for an angle for his post-event blog. “So Christine, how did you and Ruben meet?”
She told us that Ruben asked her out and brought along several glass bottles of Gerber Baby Food. Ruben told us he liked Baby Food. He figured Christine would dig some baby food also. After all, she had once been a baby too.
- Brad started drinking beers early in the afternoon several hours before the party was set to begin. He always does this. He drinks beers in bunches. We told him to slow down, that there would be a long night ahead of him for drinking, but Brad was having none of it. Several hours later, we all saw Brad doing his stupid-ass, arm-swinging “Brad” dance with Gibson’s girlfriend from the Orient. We wondered where Gibson was and why he wasn’t dancing with his girlfriend. He was at the bar drinking, where he always is at every party.
The thing about “The Brad” is it’s now become as mainstream as “The Hussle” and “The Freak” and the “Macarena.” By the end of the night circa 1 am, Brad was out by the hotel pool back deck slurring his words, being all giddy, assuring us he would throw a big party at his Chesapeake Bay Great Gatsby mansion next summer.
- Will Reynolds, the host, said he wasn’t going to wear anything eccentric for the party like the light blue tux with one-foot-high heels he sported to his 50thbirthday bash. None of us believed he would hold back and just wear something normal. He tried, but soon into the party, he slipped on his gas station shirt with the name Willie Reynolds on the left side.
Will worked the gas station circuit back in high school and told me once he would do a lot of under-the-table car repair work for cash. It was tax-free. Will was an economics major so understood the importance of getting paid in cash so you could hide your income from the Internal Revenue Service.
- During breakfast, Mike Guma and John Broderick sat wondering what it would be like to go to one of these Wake Forest parties and not have to play music as members of the Fez band. They pictured themselves talking with everybody and just blending in without having to remember how to play “Short Skirt Long Jacket” and “Psycho Killer.”
“I don’t know,” said Brods. “We probably wouldn’t fit in.”
They imagined themselves sitting over in a corner of the party, the three forlorn Fez players, being outsiders.
- Ted Lauer and Sammy Sportface talked about retirement and whether the group at the party would all start smoking weed once our working days ended.
“I think a lot of us will be smoking pot,” said Sportface. “I wonder what our kids will think of us.”
Ted knows a thing or two about smoking weed. In college, he would sit in his room in a comfortable chair and smoke pot every day or so. But he tossed aside that lifestyle and became one of America’s most influential and respected power brokers for his entire career. This turnabout is an inspiration to me and all others who smoked weed and wondered if they could still become super successful in the business world.
- There were two dissimilar performances by Steve Brown during the event that none of us will ever be able to wrap our heads around. He gave a lovely opening prayer to the group offering to help any of us with our spirituality. An hour later, we saw him on that same stage reading the words of his smartphone to “Jumping Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones and singing the tune that got all the chicks and dudes dancing. The dude has more charisma than Frank Sinatra.
1. During dinner Ted Coene felt he needed to send a message to his boy Sammy Sportface about his riotous eating habits. “Why do you have to eat fast food all the time? What’s with you going to Bojangles for fried chicken all the time? You’re getting too old for this. You need to watch your health. Why, Sportface, why?”
“I lack self-discipline,” said Sportface.
Then Jimmy Mac spit out his lit cigar on the dinner table.