Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cleveland 2012, #4

Cleveland is a big city, and there is a lot to do. However, we preferred to spend most of our time lounging around with our friends, doing nothing in particular other than eating, drinking, and just being together. And when we do this, the same thing happens every time- the stories start flying.

There’s the one about the trip we took to the Lake Erie Islands when Kim’s bra mysteriously ended up at the top of a flagpole.

There’s a whole collection of stories about Mark’s aptly named boat, “Bubble Butt.”

Then there’s the one about Louie’s wallet. Now that’s a classic.

We inevitably retell the story of Dave and Jim’s dual bachelor party where we rented a Greyhound bus and hit all the gentlemen’s clubs in Cleveland, and not just the classy ones. That always leads into the stories about Steve’s bachelor party and Jeanette’s bachelorette party.

And then we always talk about the tequila body shots that we did on one of our camping trips in the early 1990s. To this day we press Louie on whether he had relations with a girl named Tina that night, and to this day he denies it. Eventually, we expect that he will come clean.

This year I (half) joked that we needed to write all this stuff down and publish it.

Whenever we get together the ribbing is constant but goodhearted. The banter is witty but not callous. Mostly we tease people about the same old stories. When you do something memorable (usually stupid but occasionally heroic) in our group, you own that for the rest of your life. As the children have grown and matured, we’ve been able to share more of these tales with them. It’s fun to see the reaction from a 20-year-old when they learn that their stodgy old parents used to be wild and crazy.

And we go on and on deep into the night, laughing and reminiscing.

At Jeanette and Steve’s house, which was our vacation headquarters, I was made quite comfortable by everyone. I basically had five stations at my disposal:
1. Ground-level near the pool: Except in the early morning and late evening it was usually so hot that I needed a fan blowing right on my face.
Note, the remaining four locations were on the house’s main floor, which was five steps above ground level. I could only access these locations when I was in my iBot, which was most, but not all of the time.
2. Sitting at the kitchen center island: This was my favorite indoor perch. I would elevate in my iBot so that I was at barstool level like everyone else. If I sat there for an hour, I would see everyone at least once, and I was handy to all the food and drink. Central air-conditioning made it comfortable all day long.
3. Sitting in the living room: The only TV shows we watched were the Olympics on the big screen.
4. Screened-in porch: This was a nice location overlooking the pool, with a ceiling fan but no air-conditioning.
5. The laundry room: Jeanette and Steve’s first-floor bathroom was not accessible, but I could get into their laundry room. That space became my personal bathroom. I would use a portable urinal, and Kim would sneak across the hall to the bathroom and empty it for me.
If not for the iBot, this would have been a different sort of vacation. A ramp for the five steps into this house would’ve been a very long ramp indeed, not the kind you can throw together inexpensively.

Our long, lazy days revolved around food. There are several outstanding cooks in the group, and Dave brought his meat smoker. We cooked way too much food at dinner time, and picked away at the leftovers at will. We had food delivered one night to give the chefs a break.

The wine, beer, and margaritas flowed freely, sometimes even before noon. I wouldn’t consider anyone in our group to be a heavy drinker, but we all get in the mood when we’re together.

There were serious moments too, like when Keith talked about how he cheated death after rupturing his aorta, or Louie described his heart attack, or I spoke about my continued MS progression. We got the details of how Dawn was in a serious automobile accident a couple of years ago and was life-flighted to a hospital. I suppose any collection of people our age (either side of 50 years old) has endured their share of health challenges.

All of the kids changed so much over the five-year period since we last got together. It was kind of a caterpillar-butterfly thing. The adults didn’t change so much. It was kind of a butterfly-slowly-losing-its-brilliant-colors thing. The three oldest kids are now an occupational therapist, an architect, and an MBA candidate. Waiting in the wings we have future teachers, engineers, computer scientists, and more. James already has his pilot’s license. But more importantly, we have a wonderful group of quality young people. They are ambitious but also thoughtful, respectful, and fun-loving.

One thing we are quite proud of- there has not been a single divorce in our group, and I would be stunned if there ever is one.

The time we spent doing nothing in particular with our dear friends felt so relaxed and welcoming. But we did venture out on excursions a couple of times, and I’ll tell you about those in my next post.

Click for next post:       Cleveland 2012, #5
Click for previous post:  Cleveland 2012, #3


  1. It is so lovely to read about your get-together with these special friends; I envy you (and that's not a bad thing.) I think you are right - these stories should be put in print, for as you story-tellers age, they will be lost, and that would be a shame.

    I had a cousin who was notorious for remembering those gems from his past, and now that he's gone, the family get togethers have lost some of their luster.

  2. So happy for you and Kim that you had a wonderful trip and in the company of great life long friendships. Enjoying what you can do and living in the moment is the way to go.

  3. Sounds like you had a fantastic time! Good for you!

  4. Lucky, lucky you, to have such a long-lasting group of friends like this! Great writing, as usual--I expect that you are the designated one to write the stories down?

  5. Webster,

    I think our stories will remain an oral tradition for now...


    Living in the moment is indeed the key!


    Indeed we did!


    I am lucky indeed.