November 24th, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.
As published in The Daily News, November 25, 2011, and in The Memphis News, November 26-December 2, 2011
SHARED IDIOCY. SHARED LIVES.
I look around the table, many tables over many years, and I’m thankful for those I still see. Thankful that the same old guys can still bring each other to tears, laughing so hard at the same old stories from a lifetime ago that they still brighten the lifetime lived since. Thankful for the women I see, seen even then, putting up with us, loving us, despite real knowledge of the reality of us over all those years.
Passengers and metal screamed, in-flight drinks and oil spilled, and only moonlight lit the ground below. There were no wings, no landing gear, but one of those I still see was the pilot of that troubled, star-crossed craft, and he brought it safely down and all walked away. He didn’t, however, keep the chili cheese dogs safely down, and his date kept walking. After all, he had just launched a p.o.s. butt-ugly Mercury Comet off a barricade and taken it airborne 150 feet across Alcoa Highway and into frat history. This same Captain Comet once took the grapes from my backyard and tried to make wine, blowing up the batch in his kitchen and covering every square inch of every surface, and one dog, with pale red splatter.
Another of us decided to take a nap following the big game. In his plate of ribs. In front of six couples. If I hadn’t turned his head to the side, I’m pretty sure he would have drowned in the sauce. Come to think of it, even though I ate his ribs while he marinated himself, I’ve never been properly thanked for saving his life. To his credit, he sponged off with 16 or so wet wipes and rallied for the remainder of the night.
Still another holds the unofficial UT Shot Down In Flames Award for most unsuccessful phone calls trying to land a date. The final was 27 calls on the fraternity house phone. At number six, a betting pool started and a crowd formed. I’m sure #27 wondered why she heard so much cheering and applause in the background.
A lot of idiots.
All of us were in attendance at a party so red hot, it set fire to a downtown Knoxville hotel, got two angelic Little Sisters arrested for stealing a fire ax and a fireman’s hat, and burned through our bail fund for the whole year. As to the cause of the fire, it’s all a bit smoky, and I plead the better part of a fifth.
A ballroom full of idiots.
Just stories shared around a table. On a beach in North Carolina. On a porch in Georgia. On a river in Tennessee. Engineers, an artist, an adman, a lawyer, a business owner and entrepreneur. Husbands, fathers, grandfathers. Idiots once, survivors now, we’re lucky to be alive, and very lucky to have stories and laughter – and friendships– like that to share.
I’m a Memphian, and I’m thankful for things strong enough to tie people and decades together.