On the drive out to central Ohio for my 25th college reunion, it became rather urgent that I obtain a copy of Sergeant Pepper to play very loudly in my car -- my copy seemed to have taken a bunk from my CD shelves. The day of the drive was the fortieth anniversary of the release of that earthshaking album, and since the weekend was to be dedicated to wallowing in nostalgia, the proper musical accompaniment seemed incumbent.
On the way to a record store in a shopping mall in Martinsburg, West Virginia, I walked past a shop that catered to the fashion needs of the Urban Gentleman -- oversized baseball caps meant to be worn sideways, enormous throwback basketball jerseys -- you know the thing. In the window a rather raffish porkpie hat stopped me in my tracks. I must have that hat!
And have it I did. It occurred to me that the thing might occasion a nice little joke: I imagined my classmates whispering behind my back, Oh Jesus, look at poor Jingo -- he's gone bald as a billiard ball on top and he's wearing that ridiculous hat to disguise his shame; that's just pathetic! Cue me removing the thing to reveal my Crowning Glory, a full thatch of luxurious hair without a single streak of gray.
Old Kenyon, scene of most of my social and sexual humiliations
Arrived at Gambier, I ankled into the old bank, now the registration office for the returning alumni. I announced my name to an assistant at the desk, and was immediately floored when Rory Mach, registering at the next table over, cackled, "Neddie who?"
Rory is absolutely one of my favorite human beings in all of the world of space and time, with a marvelous, ever-ready great booming laugh that makes you feel glad to be alive. I had no idea he was coming -- and he likewise had no clue I was to be there. We were once so close that it's quite possible that our first children were conceived on the same night, after a bibulous dinner at a nice restaurant outside Washington. The kids were born within hours of each other. Time and distance and natural laziness on both our parts have drawn us apart, but after this weekend I will move heaven and earth to make sure that's no longer true.
Rory Mach and Offspring. No -- seriously. Her name is Offspring.
Rory and I got to yacking, and I mentioned my blog. He asked the name, and when I told him, he said, "You're Neddie Jingo?" Turns out the sumbitch was lurking at NewCritics, with no idea who I was. Now he's posting there as well, and has recently started a blog of his own. In a world of -- what are we up to now? eight billion people? -- and even given the self-selecting and self-referential nature of the Blogosphere, I'm calling this coincidence nothing short of a miracle.
People. A congenital misanthrope, I don't like a lot of people. But Matt's comment on a recent post of mine was a perfect description of the weekend: "the connections I invariably make with people whom I hardly knew when we were in school together." While in the Old Days I knew most of the folks in that little kaffeeklatsch above (actually, it should probably be referred to as a wasserklatsch), it's really only been since graduation that I've come to know and feel affection for them as friends rather than classmates. I also met many new friends, and filled in some blanks with people I'd only ever met online -- Will Divide, for example, is as charming in person as he is in email, as is Axiomatic Apricot from the Chumps.
Ascension Hall, scene of most of my academic humiliations
My fraternity, the Peeps o' Kenyon (motto: "Purity and Accuracy" -- which should give you some idea) survives, if all its mural artwork does not. Some absolute gooberhead painted over the mural reproduction of the Grateful Dead Steal Your Face album cover that greeted visitors in the foyer of Old Kenyon. I really enjoyed the little two-inch-high graffito that replaced it, though:
Two nights of fairly hearty partying did take a bit of an emotional toll on your correspondent. Sunday morning, a twinge of melancholia already setting in, I regretfully packed up the effects and motored off homeward. Again, I thought it incumbent to leave campus with Sergeant Pepper blasting at top volume out of the windows of the car. I grinned a grinny grin and set my porkpie at a jaunty angle as the windshield rattled: "It was twenty years ago today..."
But wouldn't you know it -- I'd forgotten about the second song. That damned second song!
Do you need anybody?I'm afraid I blubbed a bit.
I need somebody to love
Could it be anybody?
I just need someone to love...
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Oh, I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends...