A crooked memory lane

One alumnus’s recounting of his (perhaps) glorious past

The author has written satirical pieces for the Los Angeles Times and Salon, among others. She’s no coxswain but enjoys reunion books for the truth that is presented therein.

The deadline is almost up for the class-reunion book, and I’m nowhere near ready; there’s just too much to share.

Who can forget the excitement of move-in day and parking lots filled with mothers crying and dads awkwardly rearranging already neatly piled luggage? Oddly enough, though, I can’t remember my own goodbyes, just a vague recollection of my parents shoving stuff into the dorm room and then the backs of their heads as they drove off.

Quickly, I became the consummate athlete, and crew was my true passion, honing my leadership skills as coxswain. I particularly excelled at performing under difficult conditions like a strong headwind or urging the fellows on in spite of a crushing hangover.

Yes, there were certainly some wild times with my fraternity brothers, youthful indiscretions, but boys will be boys. Who can forget rounding up all the bicycles in town onto a flatbed truck and dumping them into the river?

College prepared me well for adulthood. Not the classes, which were really incidental in the overall scheme, but the social goings on and the lifelong connections. I had nothing to be ashamed of, though. I still graduated with gentlemanly C’s, which in my later years in Washington put me in fine company.

Afterward came a period of mind expansion and increased creativity through alternative lifestyles. It was in India, I recall, where I first learned to play the sitar while sitting along the banks of the Ganges River with Ravi Shankar and George Harrison. Unfortunately, I turned 22, and my trust fund ran out, which left me thrust among the truly unfortunates of the country and not my fellow truth seekers until George took pity and loaned me the airfare home.

There was an unsuitable first marriage to a high-strung beauty on a field-hockey scholarship—what was I thinking? But we did share a love of traveling and spent a summer kayaking down the Yucatan peninsula, where unfortunately I came down with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Indigenous Mayans happened upon us and nursed me back to good health. We were so taken with the area that we lived with them for a year, beginning an export business with the help of the country’s trade commissioner, whom I’d met at a family cocktail party and who was invaluable for overcoming cumbersome trade restrictions. Our idyllic paradise ended, however, when I discovered my wife had fled with the American Express card and the commissioner’s 19-year-old son, but I’ll just keep that to myself.

I went home to nurse my broken heart and, as is the case with other confused, undecided, purposeless individuals, decided law school was the best course of action.

After graduation came a fortunate stroke of luck, my former college roommate Jake Brown (’64) had an opening at his law firm, and I became the youngest member to make partner. In addition, I did consulting for high-tech companies—amazing what one can learn during a couple of rounds of golf.

In a fortuitous set of circumstances, I was tapped for an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, where I was happily ensconced until a change in administration sent me home, but the time was well-spent refurbishing the outdated residence so others need not entertain in such appalling circumstances.

Marriage No. 2 was much better and resulted in son Robert (MIT, ’80), who is married to Jennifer (Bryn Mawr, ’79), and a grandchild, Justin (New Horizons Preschool, ’89).

Retired now, I spend most of my time in Wyoming, where I spend days fly-fishing and painting, which entails flying to major cities for showings. In fact, I’ve recently acquired my pilot’s license to expedite travel and have even flown on occasion with Harrison Ford to find missing hikers in Yellowstone.

Alas, Wife No. 2 didn’t work out. I guess it’s true what they say: “Lucky in life, unlucky in love.” But in any case, she grew tired of my frequent absences and found true love, or so she said, with someone she met over the Internet.

Bachelorhood suits me now. It’s been a good life, a charmed life, and retirement holds more lucky surprises, I’m sure.