Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hot Times in Las Vegas

August is the time for my annual trip to fabulous Las Vegas to visit my friends The Other Rick and Tracy. August in Las Vegas with old friends is both a blast and a blast furnace. One day it was 111°! But it's a dry heat, right?

After an uneventful day of travel, it was time for a lazy day lounging and loitering by the pool, finishing the book I was reading (A Gentleman of Moscow), and lots of yammering on a variety of topics (high school friends, The Donald, etc. etc.). When late afternoon rolled around, we changed into moderately good bib and tucker for a dinner at Vegas’ Italian American Club.

I’m not sure when the place was founded—forever ago would be my guess. It’s an outpost of what R & T call “Old Vegas”. That is, of the Vegas of the legendary Rat Pack and long gone casinos, The Dunes, The Thunderbird, and The Silver Slipper.  In other words, the Vegas that made Vegas Vegas.

Without its louche roots, Vegas would be a really big Branson, Missouri…in the desert…except with gambling, boob jobs, legal reefer, and The Atomic Testing Museum.

While the Italian American Club may still be a club, it’s open to non-members. Best of all, you don’t need to be Italian to enjoy it.

It’s an unremarkable building, on one of the many strip developments that aren’t The Strip. In fact, we drove by it a couple of times before finding the place. It’s just around the corner from a giant statue of a Shriner and a bunch of homeless folks. This, of course, describes more than a few Vegas street corners.

The front of the building was landscaped with trimmed bushes and some Greco-Roman sculpture with trimmed bushes. And fig leaves! Someone in Las Vegas was worried about genitalia on a plaster statue? Who would have thunk?

Inside, it wasn’t quite like the bar scene in Star Wars, but it was a time capsule from a long time ago. For a moment, I wondered if we were there during a Sam Giancana look-alike contest. Many of the women were, as my parents would have said, “all dolled up”.

We sat at the bar, where we could enjoy not only a restorative beverage, but also a jazz combo. The lounge singer, who’d dyed his hair with shoe polish, had the vocal range of Rex Harrison.  His sidemen, well....I'm not sure that their vocal mics were on.

After dinner we perused the brag wall. I especially liked the Vic Damone photo.

And I didn't miss the Frank Sinatra themed men's room. 

Or Mario Battali's autographed Crocs. If you're going to Vegas, think seriously about going to dinner there--both food and atmosphere are top notch.

The next day I rented a car for a trip to St. George, Utah. I’d never been to Utah, and it was only two hours from Vegas. I thought some time among the Latter-day Saints would be a nice counterpoint to gambling, boob jobs, legal reefer, and the Atomic Testing Museum.

As I left Las Vegas, I saw lots of billboard for plaintiff’s attorneys, marijuana dispensaries, and erectile dysfunction treatments. Even if you are a grudge-holding pot smoker who can’t get it up, you are loved.

There’s a whole lot of nothing between LV and St. George. Mindful (for once) of at least 25% of what I learned in driver ed, I took only a few photos through the windshield.

You can't take a decent photo as you drive down the Interstate. This was not covered in my driver ed class.

You get better results when you don't shoot through the windshield. 

By chance I stopped right by a small shrine to Chris the Guardian Angel Truck Driver. He was probably killed trying to take photos through his windshield.

After a miles and miles of nothing, I-15 went through the Virgin River Gorge, which is pretty darned spectacular. The road twisted and turned unlike any Interstate highway I've been on as it climbed through a narrow slit in the rocks. No way was  I going to try to take a photo through the windshield there. You'll just have to Google it.

After the gorge, St. George wasn’t far. I stopped at the St. George Visitors Center to have a local give me the lay of the land.

I waited for my face time behind a German family with a screaming tyke. The Germans were interesting in hiking. It was about 100°. (But a dry heat!) Hiking?!? Crazy! I told the woman at the counter that whatever they were doing...I didn’t want to.

She showed me a map of town and pointed out all the points of historic interest, far away from the screaming Teutonic toddler.

St. George was founded by Mormons in 1861 as a place to grow cotton. Some of the Mormon settlers were slaveholders from the Deep South and named the area Dixie. That’s why St. George is home to Dixie State University. Makes sense...sort of.

My first stop was the Mormon Tabernacle. I found free and convenient parking right by Thomas Judd's cutesy old sofa fountain.

According to Wiki, in the Latter-day Saints church, a tabernacle is a multipurpose religious building, used for church services and conferences, and as community centers. Although it looks like a church, it’s not a church—there are no Sunday services, Sunday school rooms, church offices, and so on.

Non-Mormons can enter a tabernacle, but access to Mormon temples is restricted to Mormons in good standing with the church.

The St. George Tabernacle is one of the oldest, and from the exterior looks like a congregational church that you’d find in a prosperous New England village.

It wasn’t crowded. As in, I was the only tourist there. The docent, a retired medical equipment salesman, gave me lots of personal attention. He told me that St. George is a hot spot for affluent Mormon retirees. Who knew?

The interior of the tabernacle is a large two story space, with a balcony. There’s a lectern where the pulpit would be in a church. In fact, it looks pretty much like a Presbyterian church. 

Miles Romney, a great-great grandfather of Mitt Romney, was the architect of the building.

He was responsible for the curved staircase. Interestingly enough, he died as a result of a fall at the job site in 1877.

After my tour, I walked to a restaurant suggested by my docent. Walking was a stupid idea. City blocks in St. George are enormous and it was over 100 degrees (But a dry heat!). I was consoled by the thought that the bratty German tyke had to be hotter than I was.

When I finished lunch, it was time to go to the Brigham Young Winter Home. If they’d invented license plates during his lifetime, his would have been Snowbird #1.

Brigham Young purchased his place in 1872. Among the other things on his plate—perhaps designing the 1873 season of Mormon underwear—he was also supervising the construction of St. George’s Mormon Temple. He remodeled the house, doubling its size, creating the first McMansion in St. George.  

The tour started in a small outbuilding that served as the office. Brigham Young worked there as both head of the Mormon Church and the governor of the Utah Territory.

Another earnest Mormon retiree had already started giving the tour to two other old folks when I arrived. We exchanged brief greetings. The other folks on the tour were from Las Vegas. They smiled when I said I was from Pennsylvania. Perhaps I should have brought scrapple with me?

According to the website for the BYWH, Young’s office ”provided privacy for him to meet with selected Church leaders to reinstitute temple ordinances that had not been performed in a temple since the Saints left Nauvoo, Illinois.”  Presumably eavesdropping neighbors could hear Mormon bigwigs saying “Please Sir, may I have another?” before hearing the whack of the ‘Board of Deacons’ on some Bishop’s butt during this process.

After the brief spiel our docent took us over to the Big House where a different docent took over. 

Very few of the objects in the house belonged to Brigham Young.  There’s a piano in the parlor—one of his wives played the piano. And sang too. I’m pretty sure about that. Though she might have just hummed along. Don’t quote me. My eyes glazed over shortly after arrival. Perhaps I was having a vision! 

After the parlor—Brigham Young liked windows, I think the docent mentioned that—we moved on to the dining room and the kitchen, where the docent explained how ironing worked in the 19th century. 1. Heat up irons on stove. 2. Scorch whatever it was that you were ironing 3. Or not.
Sometimes even a blind hog gets an acorn.  4. Repeat as necessary.  5. Await the invention of the electric iron in 1882.

After the kitchen, we were led up the steep, historic staircase to the bedrooms. Brigham Young and his wife/wives had separate bedrooms.

BY (I felt as if we were old friends by this point) had an interesting marital history. He was a polygamist and according to Wiki had 55 wives, 54 of which he married after becoming a Mormon.  While the majority of the sealings were "for eternity", some were "for time only". I don’t know if this meant they could stay overnight, or if Brigham Young told them to skidaddle after enjoying their company since he “needed to get up early for work tomorrow”. Researchers believe that not all of the 55 marriages were conjugal. (Yeah, right!)

It’s not a bad thing that Tinder wasn’t invented during Brigham Young’s lifetime.

By his slew of wives, Brigham Young had 56 children. Do you think he had trouble with their names the way my mother did with her kids names? That would have been quite the moment of domestic bliss, when he tried to call Levi and instead had to go through Abraham, Mary, Martha, Dorcas, Joel and 51 other names before finally hitting on Levi.

I asked the docent if with 56 children, he repeated any names. She didn’t know.

Then I asked her if she’d ever read that Dr. Seuss story about Mrs. McCave, who had twenty-three sons and named them all Dave?  No, she wasn’t familiar with that though she said she liked Dr. Seuss.

I chuckled at the thought of Brigham Young naming one of his kids Oliver Boliver Butt as Dr. Seuss wished Mrs. McCave had done. Yes, even on a bad house tour, I amuse myself.

The last room on the tour was Brigham Young’s bedroom. With 55 kids, I’m surprised his death wasn’t due to…um….organ failure.

Not having had my fill of Mormon History, I drove over to the St. George Temple, which is the oldest Mormon Temple in use by the church.  For whatever reason, the Temple and Tabernacle aren’t near each other, don’t face each other, and pretty much seem as if they were plopped down in random spots.

It’s hard to miss the Temple. It’s a huge white thing.

According to Wiki, there are “three ordinance rooms and 18 sealing rooms, and a total floor area of 110,000 square feet .The building used to have four ordinance rooms, but they were refashioned into “three rooms, at the time the endowment ceremony was changed from a live presentation to one presented on film.”

I am not going to comment on endowment ceremonies even if they are on film, VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray or the part of the internet reserved for porn.

As I said, the place is enormous and it’s painted blinding tone of white. You need to wear sunglasses if you look at the building, it’s that bright. The place is immaculately maintained. There wasn’t a weed or a speck of dirt or a drab bit of faded paint anywhere. Cars don’t come out of the factory looking this new.

Since I’m not a member of the church in good standing (with the special underwear and all that), I wasn’t permitted to go into the Temple. However, I was permitted to go into the Temple’s visitor center, staffed, by you guessed it, Mormon retirees.

The visitors center was actually two buildings. The first building is about the building of the Temple. It has a small model of the town of St. George in the 19th Century and some 19th century artifacts related to the construction of the Temple. Next door was a larger building, evangelizing in bricks and mortar about the Mormon faith.

The latter building was staffed by cute twentysomethings (with a fortysomething supervisor). I wondered if they church had finally run out of retirees.

It was decorated in the expensive funeral home style, the same style as the temple in Philadelphia.  I skipped the opportunity to watch a bunch of videos, presumably from that part of the internet not reserved for porn, about the LDS church and so on. The Muzak playing What a Friend We Have in Jesus was as close as I was going to get to a religious experience.

I used the men’s room. For all their industry, Mormons aren’t so good at putting a new roll of TP on the holder.

After my fill of Mormon hot spots (it was 111° according to the gas station thermometer) I was really in the mood for coffee. I stopped at a local coffee shop—mostly just to see if a town filled with Mormons HAD a coffee shop—for a cup before heading back to Vegas.

That evening, Tracy and I went to see Mystere, the oldest Cirque du Soleiel show playing in Las Vegas. If you’ve never been to a Cirque show, go.

It’s an evening of acrobats, clowns, trapeze artists, and presumably not a single Mormon retiree. There’s a soundtrack of rock music, and cast members wear costumes designed by someone who consumed LOTS of LSD.

Most of the performers had the bodies of underwear models. Reflecting on my trip to St. George, I thanked the Lord for the invention of Spandex.

On my last day in town I wanted to see Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum, as seen on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures!

OK, I have no idea who Zak Bagans is, or what Ghost Adventures! is, but I have heard of the Travel Channel.

The website promised the chance to...

...see original collectibles from haunted sites….

“original collectibles”…as opposed to Limited Edition Collectibles from the Franklin Mint?

…and hear the bone-chilling stories of the paranormal activity that surrounds them….

It was 111° in St. George. My bones could use a little chilling.

This isn’t your average haunted house in Las Vegas;

…there is such a thing?

…museum-goers can even peek inside the VW death van in which Dr. Jack Kevorkian ended the suffering of terminally ill patients as well as get a close-up look at the “Propofol chair” from Michael Jackson’s death room...


Who doesn’t want to see Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s van? Or Michael Jackson’s “Propofol chair”? (Manufactured by La-Z Some Young Boy.)

But dang it. This non-average haunted house was closed on Tuesdays.

Oh well, there's always next year!

So back to Philadelphia airport.

My flight was cancelled.

There were no rental cars.

There were no hotels within 12 miles and $200 of the airport.

As I was waiting in line for an American Airlines employee to hit me in the head with a croquet mallet, the American Airlines app on my phone told me that I could fly out the next morning at 8:38. Yay! At least my carry-on wasn’t lost.

I went to a bar where you had to order via an iPad. I had a what my father used to call a Budweiser sandwich.

I moved away from the loud 24 Hour TRU-TV featuring CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta going to Italy, not shaving, and eating slow food. I tried to sleep on the floor. I tried to sleep on the settees. I tried to sleep with my head on a table. I tried to sleep using my backpack as a pillow. 

I adjusted my compression socks.

The security announcements continued through the night. The loudspeaker repeatedly told us if a stranger asks you to take their ticking Acme brand suitcase with you, it might jeopardize your status as a member of boarding group 57.

At about 5:00 am I walked around and noticed a guy sitting in one of those coin operated massage chairs. With visions of Magic Fingers (only $.25!) dancing in my head, I thought a three minute spin was worth a $1.

It was the longest three minutes I’ve ever lived through. The chair gripped your legs so that you could not get a way and then treated you to the electronic version of a PennDOT worker running you over with a dump truck.  People have been known to escape into Turkish prisons to get away from these chairs.

At 6:00 am the food court reopened. I resisted the call of a Budweiser omelet and had a bagel sandwich.

My new flight left on time. If it hadn't, I would have walked home. Even if I had to take a screaming German toddler with me.

Monday, June 24, 2019

College Plus 40

By the time your 40th college reunion comes around, you’re old. The alma mater is eager for you to come back so that you’ll remember it when you’re at the lawyer’s office cutting a ne’er-do-well relative out of your will. When you finally find the invitation you received in the mail (“I had it when I walked into the room…”) you see that it’s sponsored by Lipitor and Depends and includes a coupon for the school’s official funeral home.

Since I started going to my college reunion at my 20th—lured by the promise of seeing Mary Wilson of the Supremes—I’ve always had a fantastic time. Gathered on the University of Virginia’s lovely Grounds (no, it’s not a campus) with other Wahoos, it’s a weekend of telling your friends that they haven’t changed a bit, rehashing old stories, enjoying plentiful food and drink, and attending a seminar or two. If that’s not enough, there are tours, music, dancing, and yes, sometimes hangovers.

This year, my coworkers were concerned that in my eagerness to relive my college days, history might repeat itself. That’s right…. that I might participate in, and then report on, reunion-related canoodling. While I was, in theory at least, open to the idea of a canoodle, their delicate sensibilities were safe: I have no canoodling to report on.

I drove to Charlottesville with my friend Di who was coming from upstate New York. We stopped at Virginia Farm Market in Winchester on they way. I'd show you a photo of their fantastic apple cider donuts, but I ate all of them before starting this blog.

We took a scenic detour near the little town of Crozet and were mightily amused by finding Dick Woods Road.

The moment I walked into Alumni Hall I had one of those “Toto I don’t think that we’re in Kansas anymore” moments. There was LOTS of blue and orange. And I do mean lots. Men and women were nattily dressed in blue blazers and orange neckties, blue and orange striped polo shirts, and anything else that might come in blue and orange.

Di and I presented ourselves at the appropriate registration desks and soon enough were outfitted in the official color-coded lanyard that served as our tickets for the weekend.  We each received an official UVa tie tack and even an official school pennant. Who knew pennants were coming back?!

After getting the lay of the land from the earnest young Wahoo at the check in table, he pointed me in the direction of another desk where someone would print my alumni association membership card entitling me to a 15% discount at the UVa bookstore. The merch didn’t even have to be blue and orange.

I told the man at the counter that my name was Rick Bryant.

The Rick Bryant…. from The Declaration?  

Uh no
, I said.

The Declaration (as in of Independence…clever, no?) was a weekly student tabloid.  My doppelgänger was a BMOG law student. He played racquetball. People would call me about scheduling games with him.

His given name is Frederick, I said, defending the good name of Richards everywhere.

With that conversational gambit shot down like a clay bird in a skeet shoot, the man behind the counter went to Plan B.

“So where are you from?” 

“State College, Pennsylvania. As in Penn State.” 

“Oh, do you know Tina Hay?”

I chuckled.

“Why yes, I do. She's great.”

The man handing out the membership cards turned out to be the editor of the UVa alumni mag. He'd met Tina after hearing her talk about crisis communications.  Small world. 

While I usually stay in on-Grounds housing (as in a dorm), I opted for the considerably less spartan Courtyard by Marriott near the UVa Medical Center. I thought it would be a better option if I were to have a canoodling-related heart attack or worse, a you-know-what lasting more than four hours.

That evening, Di and I and another friend walked down the street for dinner at Maya, a trendy Yelp-endorsed restaurant. I read later that the neighborhood is called Midtown. Back in the day it would have been called “Yeah, do you don’t wanna go there…” 

But that was a long time ago.

Maya is a trendy spot, welcoming both inked skinny-jeans-wearing regional cuisine aficionados and doofus hipster-wannabes.  The Yelp-ers are on to something: not only was the food good, but the historic cocktail of the month hit the spot too. However, our zaftig crimson-lipsticked waitress never really warmed to us. My guess is that she wouldn’t be caught dead in blue and orange.

NFL Man of the Year, owner of two Super Bowl rings, Wahoo, and C-ville local Chris Long came in for take-out and waited at the bar right by our booth. And to answer your first question, no, he was not wearing skinny jeans. Do they even make skinny jeans in sizes for NFL players? He was very polite and didn’t interrupt our dinner to ask to take a selfie with us. Had he asked, I would have said yes.

After dinner we still had time for a nightcap at The Virginian, a sort of diner/bar where you can get not only Maker’s Mark but tits too. My friend Margaret once found a cockroach in a farmer’s omelet there. Presumably in the intervening years the exterminator has come. I didn’t stay out late: my reunion-ing schedule started early the next day.  Yeah, I’m old.

There were plenty of things on offer. There were uplifting seminars covering a wide variety of topics from UVa sports to retirement to nuclear energy to Walt Whitman. If you wanted to hang out with friends from the Honor Committee or the Veterans of the Old Dorms Panty Raids you could do that. If you care to go farther afield, there were tours of new buildings on Grounds and local hot spots, like wineries and Monticello. And if Bill was your friend, there were twelve step meetings.

I typically stick to the historic stuff and do a few tours of new and different parts of the Grounds. I wasn’t much of a joiner, wasn’t in student government, and even let my membership in the Old Dorm Panty Raid Association lapse a few years back.

My first seminar was called 1968: A Year Drenched in Blood, a perfect choice to shock the brain cells into something approaching thinking. The prof, Brian Balogh, whose podcast, Backstory, is a personal fave, used lot of video clips to talk about the fracturing America of 1968. He illustrated his points with everything from an ad from the Nixon presidential campaign to clips of the Chicago police beating the crap out of anti-war protesters at the Democratic convention.

During the Q&A, one member of the audience, from the class of ’64 or ‘69, talked about his experience returning from Viet Nam, when the manager of a swank hotel in San Francisco comped his room as a way of welcoming him back from the war.

At this, the older gentleman sitting by me became visibly distressed and tears started rolling down his cheeks. When I offered a tissue, his wife told me that he’d had the opposite experience returning from Viet Nam. He was called a baby killer, and that was just for starters.

Another audience member identified himself as one of the five African-American students of the 1200 men (as in no women) of the class of 1969. He talked about performing in the Glee Club’s spring concert when someone came into the auditorium and announced that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed. He said everyone in the hall turned and looked at him.

All three of these men were reminders that although there are lots of things we need to work on, America is a better place than it was in 1968.

When I was sufficiently depressed it was time for my second talk, Rum, Rummy, Rampaging, and Research: Life at Early UVA for Students, Faculty, and the Enslaved.
We learned that before the Civil War The University was a dangerous place. Students were often drunk and violent. Gunfire on Grounds was a frequent occurrence. Lots of the violence was intended by students to assert dominion over the enslaved community. The young men sent to UVa to learn leadership skills spent much of their time leading the way to local liquor and ammo stores.

Ante bellum UVa sounded like The Three Stooges Meet Jim Crow, only worse. In addition to the traditional Oh, a wise guy, eh? before some eye gouging and sucker punching, the fighting also included lots of nose biting. Yes, nose biting. It was a thing. It’s even documented in university records. Yikes.

And of course, there was wenching and whoring.  Those boys wenched and whored out the ying yang. Faculty members did a lot of hand wringing about the wenching and whoring. There's plenty of documentation of that, too.

Fortunately, I could only fit in two depressing seminars before lunch back at The Virginian, where one of my friends told me that his nonagenarian father was getting married the next day. Impressive! I didn’t ask if the bride were knocked up.
After lunch it was time for a tour. The architecture school's gravel parking lot has become a parking garage, band building, and a studio art building. The area now has a fancy name, The John and Betsy Casteen Arts Grounds, which presumably has replaced its former name, "You have classes way out there?". While there were bright spots, the tour was a bit like listening to someone you don’t know brag about their grandchildren.

At about 5:00 p.m. a thunderstorm of biblical proportions descended on Charlottesville. The lights in the hotel went out briefly, and the phone system was knocked out for the remainder of the weekend.  Fortunately the Alumni Association had announced earlier that evening activities would be at their inclement weather sites.
The evening's new location, the John Paul Jones Arena, was impressive even if it wasn't designed by Mr. Jefferson or Stanford White. The huge athletic complex was living proof that in the years since I was a student, UVa has embraced bigtime sports, to the detriment of time spent wenching, whoring, and nose-biting.

Saturday was a beautiful day so my friends and I got bagels from Bodo’s (a C-ville institution) so that we could have breakfast on The Rotunda steps while watching the morning’s academic procession. UVa is very big on academic processions. Mr. Jefferson’s Lawn, with its rows of columns leading from one focal point to another is the perfect spot for them.

When we arrived, cute Josh (even at my advanced age I still have the ability to read a nametag) and his cute and perky co-workers from Alumni Hall were there to carry the class banners.  Each time I see them I’m impressed with how handsome they are. The banners, I mean.

Soon enough a man in academic gown holding the university’s mace showed up, followed in short order by a guy in a kilt with bagpipes. The kilt wasn’t a blue and orange tartan, a clear branding goof by some junior development person attached to the events office. The new university President, Jim Ryan, arrived—easy to spot since he was the only man in a dark business suit.

We fell into a ragtag procession by class, behind the guy with the mace, the bagpiper, university President, and the cute banner folks from Alumni Hall.  Classmate Katie Couric stepped out of the procession to capture the scene on her phone, our very own Abraham Zapruder.  I hope I was smiling.

When the procession neared its end, we all clapped for those who’d graduated fifty years ago.

Josh took a photo of Di, Pete, and me with our class banner.

After the procession, there’s an assembly where people from the alumni association and the development office act as the de facto opening acts for the University president. They pass out awards to the classes that did the best with fundraising and attendance.

Before the speakers started, my friends and I talked about what a terrible job someone did hanging the screen over the stage.  How could they not align it with the room’s cornice? Architects notice these things.

President Ryan was impressive; the university seems to be in good hands.  As the Q&A from the audience wound down, in an amusing bit of theatre, the last questioner randomly chosen from the audience was Katie Couric. She asked about the college admissions scandal. President Ryan them answered her like the skilled politician a university president needs to be these days.

After the President’s address, I hit a seminar on Mr. Jefferson before going to the Architecture School luncheon in the garden of Pavilion VI. The Dean’s wife turned out to be the woman who did the architecture school portion of the arts grounds tour the day before. She was very nice though I couldn’t help but notice that she was wearing the same black dress as the day before. She did, however, change her shoes.

Saturday afternoon I took a friend to the airport, went to the university bookstore to see if my math skills could calculate a 15% discount.

Afterward, I took in an exhibit on Walt Whitman. 

Leaves of Grass had some terrible reviews. Yikes!

After Walt it was time to return to the hotel to shower, shave, and Aqua Velva before our big class finale in McIntire Amphitheater.

I could barely fit into my pink Ralph Lauren party trousers that I wore to the same event five years previously, but as long as I didn’t plan on inhaling, exhaling, eating, drinking, or moving, I figured I’d be ok.

It was a beautiful night for a party, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by historic white columned buildings that are part of the UVa brand. It was the like the best wedding ever except without annoying relatives, the possibility of children in attendance, and having to wait forever for the bride and groom to cut the cake so that you can leave.

 My friends and I laughed and laughed and laughed some more.

Dessert was the C-ville delicacy, the Grillswith. It's a grilled glazed donut topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It wouldn't be a UVa reunion without them. 

Around 9:00 p.m., Atlanta’s Perfect 10 Band started to play. They’re a horn band fronted by three women—one with a baby bump--in sequined jumpsuits and one guy in the tightest pants ever. They are fantastic entertainers.

In about a half a second there were lots of aged and not quite infirm Wahoos on the dance floor gyrating as if they once knew how to dance. At some point the guy in the tightest pants ever led a conga line around the dance floor. I can't tell you the last time that I was in a conga line.

The Perfect 10 band was the opening act for Skip Castro, the band that’s played at all of our reunions. Sure, they’re long in the tooth, but they’ve still got what it takes.

On our way out of the party we met some younger Wahoos who had scored some lanyards and were on their way in. I think they’d been partying all evening, but hey, it was Reunions Weekend, I could hardly blame them.  In the course of chatting, he told me that he was looking for $450,000 venture capital for his startup. He's got gizmo (or maybe it was a process) that turns kombucha into rolling papers. I told him I was in for $50,000. Fortunately, he was more interested in running to the bar than running my credit card.

Di and I took a selfie with Mr. Jefferson and then sat down on the Rotunda steps to chat with some friends of hers.

Three twenty somethings appeared out of the dark and were horsing around on the grass in front of us. Someone—I think it was Di—yelled to them that they should streak.

Soon enough, there were piles of clothes in front of us and they ran down Lawn together in the altogether. On the return trip, they ran right up the steps of the Rotunda. That was when I noticed that they knew that a Brazilian is not just a citizen of that really big country in South America. 


The final thing on the schedule was the traditional Sunday morning going away breakfast at the aquatic center. It's headlined by the droll politics commentator Larry Sabato, the head of UVa's Center for Politics and a member of the class of '74. He spends an hour or so politically prognosticating while bleary-eyed alums munch on breakfast food.

Unfortunately the end of his talk signaled that another reunions weekend was coming to a close. As he finished talking, Frank and Heidi and Guy and Melinda and Pete and Laura and Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice and anyone else I might have laid eyes on said our goodbyes and promised that we wouldn’t wait 5 years to get together again.

This time we really mean it.