So there we sat around a table after devouring dinner, eight former college friends. Most of us were chubbier than our college days, and some of us had little or no hair remaining. But we were still friends.
It took more than three decades, but after we all met at our college reunion a couple of years ago, we decided to come together for an annual golfing weekend at Cape Cod. This was the second one.
We all had professional careers, and a couple were contemplating early retirement now. But as soon as we sat down to dinner at one friend's summer home, it was as if we traveled back in time to college and regressed into silly banter and teasing.
OK, no one did a keg stand (balancing on your head on top of a beer keg and guzzling beer from the tap); someone would surely be injured now. But we relived the fun, crazy moments of college days, like the time one daredevil classmate jumped out of a third-story dorm window into a snow bank with hundreds of students watching and cheering as he popped out unscathed.
And then I recalled the time I was dating a French major from another nearby college. One day, I received a letter from her, written in French. I immediately rushed to a classmate, who was fluent in French, and asked him to translate for me. He scanned the handwritten lines, knitting his brow and frowning. He told me that I didn't really want to know what was in this letter. I insisted that he translate for me. Reluctantly, he proceeded to say that my French-major girlfriend wanted nothing more to do with me and thought I was a jerk.
At first, I was shocked. Then he began to laugh, and then I laughed. I had been dumped in French; we agreed that it was a pretty cool thing and I would never forget that. I never did. When I told the story, my present college buddies collapsed with laughter, slapping me on the back. It's great to be the brunt of your own joke.
After a round of golf, we reminisced about some other college friends and professors and courses we took. We all agreed that we got a good education and we're pretty satisfied with life. We recalled a couple of professors who had married former students. I believe that a philosophy professor later married a coed I was interested in. I guess she liked his philosophy of life better than mine.
However, there was a somber moment, maybe after a couple of wines, when a college buddy announced that at least 20 people from our graduating class had passed away. For a moment, there was silence; and then we recalled a couple of deceased alumni fondly and toasted them. Any time you meet your mortality, it's a slap off the back of the head. Badabing.
While the weekend was completely enjoyable, my emotions ran up and down. It was great to be with friends that I had known when I was still a teenager. On the other hand, I realized that we were a heck of a lot older. A couple guys had heart attacks and one had a hip replacement. But, for the most part, we were in good health and enjoying each other again.
One classmate blurted out that regardless of the stockpile of chronological years behind us, he didn't feel old. In fact, he still thought of himself as a young man, even though his body was always there to remind him that he wasn't. We laughed and nodded in agreement.
I had recently read an idea about how common it was for people to think of themselves as mentally being much younger than their chronological age. According to the author, it was proof that we (our real conscious self) were timeless, and never changed regardless of the body's deterioration. This sensation could be a clue that a part of us is immortal and lives beyond the boundary of time.
After a full day of golf, great food and wine, it was difficult to digest such deep philosophical thoughts. Nonetheless, we agreed that we liked that idea. So we vowed to all remain mentally young and toasted each other, and knew we would be friends forever. I can hardly wait to return next year.
Frank Szivos is a freelance writer who feels mentally younger than his age. He can be reached at email@example.com.