On Friday, 13 April 2012, Janice and I took half a day off from work and drove to Utica, New York. We checked into the Best Western Gateway Adirondack Inn and had a solid dinner at Babe’s, a nearby Italian restaurant. After Janice’s parents arrived, we went to see our niece Laura as Cobweb in an entertaining community college production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
The next morning, Janice, her parents, and I met Janice’s middle sister Shelly and her children Laura and David for breakfast at the Denny’s across from our motel. Janice and I then visited high school chum Damon F.P. at his apartment in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. We got to meet his cat Caesar, and we watched a little of That Metal Show, before going to check in at the Courtyard Tarrytown Greenburgh, where we have stayed before.
The highlight of the weekend for me was an informal reunion that Damon and I have been planning for a few months. Since we didn’t attend Archbishop Stepinac High School‘s official 25th anniversary reunion last year, we organized a gathering with some of our longtime friends in White Plains, N.Y.
Carlo R., who was two years ahead of the Class of 1986, joined us, as did Frank J.D. We hadn’t seen Frank, who was also my first roommate at the State University of New York at Binghamton, in many years, so we were excited to catch up. After checking out the lacrosse game on a field that was much nicer than the one we remembered, we walked the halls of our alma mater.
Janice was patient as we recounted various adolescent misadventures, including a bus riot, assorted teachers who scared us or whom we drove to tears, and the pranks of our classmates. I was thrilled to reconnect with Frank, who was from Yonkers like me and now lives with his family in Connecticut.
We perused old yearbooks together. It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly 30 years since we first met! Carlo reminded me of our shared interest in Doctor Who and our space opera screenplay for “The Zarkonian Bomb,” which later evolved into the short stories of “The Adventures of Jason Delmar” and the “Vortex” role-playing game setting. We also noted the passing of our collaborators Bill B. and Ray C., among others.
Damon and I once sparred over politics, and we’ve been in regular contact — I’ve served as best man at his weddings, and we met other friends at a 40th birthday bash a few years ago. His impressions of our former teachers, including several priests, were hilarious. Frank was just as interested in sports, cuisine, and good times as I remember, and it was like finding a long-lost brother.
From Stepinac, we went to Executive Billiards, where we met classmates Steve M. and Sean F., as well as Brian D.H., who knew Frank at SUNY-B. and was my housemate right after college when we worked at NYPIRG in Queens. Hockey goalie and painter Steve lives near Frank in Connecticut, and Sean, whom we hadn’t seen since high school, lives and works in White Plains. I’ve been away for long enough to find that city’s growth is impressive.
I saw Brian and several other college friends in Manhattan last summer, but it was nice to catch up with him and everyone over friendly games of pool with beer and munchies. Damon, Frank, and I had tracked down a few other Stepinac alumni, but they couldn’t make it. Maybe next time.
All of us but Sean had a late dinner at Hacienda Azteca, a nice Mexican restaurant near the pool hall. Were it not for family obligations and travel plans, we could have talked even later into the evening. We may have matured somewhat, but I was pleased to find that our bonds have changed little. Unlike the promises scrawled into our yearbooks, I expect to stay in touch as our friendships are renewed as adults.
The next morning, Janice and I met Damon, Carlo, and Ron J.K. for brunch. Ron is another Binghamton alumnus and a core member of the “Westchester crew.” Unfortunately, we couldn’t eat at the City Limits Diner as planned because it had suffered a kitchen fire just as we arrived! Fortunately, we found Highridge Bagels 2 nearby.
Janice and I had a smooth drive back to Massachusetts, stopping at Cracker Barrel on the way home. I’ve still got some unpacking to do, but work, various games, and my historical weapons class have kept me busy. I’ll try to review recent genre television, restaurants, and more soon.