Once a Slacker Always a Slacker?

Well, that was pretty much a bust. Over Columbus Day weekend, Steve and I headed back to Illinois for a long weekend chock-full of activities. I multi-tasked when planning this trip as I’ve never multi-tasked before. First stop: my 10-year college reunion.

We took the red-eye Thursday night, arriving at Chicago Midway at 1:00 AM and drove directly down to Bloomington. Steve made fairly scary record-setting time and we got to the hotel just after 3. After a few hours of sleep and brunch, we headed off to campus. They had a few “back to school”-type lectures given by current faculty. We went to one about an archaeological dig in Israel in which IWU participates. This is new to me as the field excursions started in 1997 or 1998. Steve’s big into archaeology so I thought this lecture would interest him. Afterwards we went to another lecture about how foreign policy might affect the upcoming elections. The professor was fantastic, very engaging and interesting. Even if he did wear a bow-tie.

After the lectures, we headed over to the English House where I hoped to catch up with one of my favorite professors. Unfortunately he had just left for the day. This was to be the start of a long weekend of not seeing people.

Let me just say that there is nothing the university did that made the reunion suck. It sucked because there was no one there. And I have to emphasize this. No one.

We went to the reception at the President’s House Friday night. It was fairly pleasant, but we really spoke with the only young people we could find – the alumni relations staff. (Also the start of a theme for the weekend.) Later that evening we went to Killarney’s for the Class o’ 1996 informal gathering. There were a lot of people there when we arrived, and they were playing really good music. I hopefully scanned the crowd and didn’t see anyone I knew. I did see the alumni relations folks at one table and Steve and I visited with them and a young faculty member for a while. But the music got louder and louder as more people came in and it grew increasingly hard to hear anyone. And still no one I knew. The crowd, it seems, was current college students and people from the class of 2001 who were supposed to be at a different bar, but found Killarney’s much cooler. Okay, well it was still Friday night and maybe people just couldn’t make it after a long day of work. The alumni relations lady told me that there weren’t many people from my class signed up for the reception the next night, but she assured me that people for the 10-year reunion usually just showed up.

I got up early the next morning (leaving Steve to sleep in) for a breakfast reception on the quad where I hoped to see some faculty I knew. Nope. It was a bust. Again, I spoke to the alumni relations folks for a while, then went off on a tour of the campus to check out the new buildings. I was the only person on the tour.

I went and got Steve from the hotel and headed back to campus for the reunion luncheon. They had the tables marked for each decade of alums and we dutifully sat in the area for the 1990s. Our row of tables remained fairly empty until some overflow from the other decades joined in. The food was dreadful and I immediately recognized it as EXACTLY the same pasta that I had eaten so many nights in the Commons. Hmmmm, bland tomato sauce and pasty alfredo!

Then came what was probably Steve’s favorite moment of mocking: the class reunion pictures. I went to the area where the Class o’ 1996 was to gather. I gathered. Then came E, who I *might* barely remember, but he was an accounting major and I never really knew him anyway.

At this point, I am aware that the reunion is a total bust and that my friends are ass-wipes. Okay, fine. They all live in the Chicago area and can see each other any time they want. But, I am back in Illinois maybe once a year for Christmas and can’t always get away to drive to the city and see them, even if we do manage to plan something. They have never been planners. Even if they didn’t want to do the “reunion” thing, couldn’t they have said “we don’t want to do the official reunion thing, but why don’t we meet you for drinks/dinner/a strip club”? I let them know months ago we were going to be in town and the only response I got was from 1 of them a week before the reunion saying no one was going. Thanks guys.

As I said to Steve, I guess the problem with being friends with slackers in college is that you risk having slacker friends as an adult, too.

So, after a trip to the bookstore for a new t-shirt, we headed around campus and started taking pictures of a forlorn-looking me sitting in our old hang-out spots. It was pretty fun, in a sad little way. So, here I am at:

The Gulick Wall

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The Old Library

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Our Senior-Year Off-Campus Houses (I can’t believe they’re still standing!)

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Risque’s Adult Entertainment Center

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Our final reunion event was the class social held at Fat Jack’s. Again, this could have been really fun. . . if there were people there. They had plenty of food and an OPEN BAR for god’s sake! Granted they were playing crappy music, but I could have changed that if I’d cared to. So, there was pretty much no one there when Steve and I got there. We ate a little food, drank a little, and waited. We finally saw a group of 4 people arrive and I gamely went up to them and asked if they were ACTUALLY from the Class o’ 1996. Nope, 1992. Apparently there were so few people showing up, the powers-that-be decided to combine the classes into one room. We chatted nicely with these folks for a while. It was really quite pleasant, but then we let them go as a few other 92ers came in. We drank a little more and E showed up. We really couldn’t, in good conscience, ditch him, and who were we supposed to ditch him for anyway? The following tidbit of conversation exemplifies our time with him. Somehow it came up that E lives in Milwaukee.

Me: So did you move to Milwaukee recently?

E: Oh no, I went back right after school. My mom wanted me to go to school and live my life for a while, so we had this agreement that I’d spend time away during college. But I moved back right after graduation.

I did refrain from asking him if he lived with his mother, which took a lot of self control. We quickly ran out of things to say and stood around awkwardly. A few girls I recognized as sorority sisters showed up and formed the same clique they did 10 years ago.

Finally, I took pity on both of us, and Steve and I left. What a waste the reunion turned out to be.