[Editor’s Note: This is the first time I’m posting a blog that I honestly feel might only be relevant to about 10-15 people. I’ve tried to make it as readable as possible to the people not involved in these stories, but if I failed at that, so be it. This post will also help explain why you probably won’t see another blog post for the next five days.]
In three hours I’ll be boarding a plane for a four-day vacation in New Braunfels, a city that’s best known for operating the oldest dance hall in Texas. It has a population of 55,000, is expected to be over 100 degrees everyday I’m there, and there is literally only one recreational activity available…sitting in the Guadalupe River while trying not to melt.
So why am I so excited to be heading deep into the belly of Texas to spend my vacation in such an uninspiring place?
Because it just so happens to be the seventh consecutive year that a small group of us from college is getting together in a random location for a weekend of reminiscing and reliving all of our most memorable college moments. It’s a weekend where 10 of us booze heavily, sleep in a cramped house that wasn’t meant for 10 people, and play any and every kind of drinking game you can imagine. We basically turn back the clock and act like we’re in college again.
Notice that I didn’t say the weekend included “catching up with each other.” That was on purpose. I’m pretty sure out of the 10 people that usually join me on this trip, I only know what three of them actually do for a living. This is because we don’t waste time on inconsequential details like “what do you do for a job these days?” or “are you still married?”
When we all get together, we immediately fall back into our college lives, spending every minute talking about the most ridiculous shit that went on in our time at BU. And now that we’ve been doing the reunion for seven years, there are plenty of stories from those trips to relive as well.
Vacations are always fun no matter who joins you, and everyone has plenty of groups of friends with plenty of memories among those groups. But the reason this vacation with this group seems so unique should be obvious to anyone who went to college. College breeds such a tight-knit group of friends that can only come from living with those people in such close proximity for those four years. During that first year of college, everyone’s in the same unprecedented position—being truly on your own and living without your family and the friends you’ve grown up with for 18 years. Once you experience the euphoria of living near only people your age, you want to keep it going, and whether you stay in dorms for the next three years or you eventually move into an off-campus apartment, you stay unhealthily close to your friends.
And sure, most of the people in our group have moved on to adulthood—some of them are married, others bought houses, and maybe a few understand what a 401(k) is—but I’m pretty sure at times we all ache to be back in that college lifestyle, if only for a weekend.
That’s what makes this seven-year run so impressive. Sure, every group of college friends would like to get together once a year for a mini-vacation, but the fact that we’ve been able to pull it off is pretty surprising.
Maybe this blog is irrelevant to anyone who’s not part of the group, but maybe going over the highlights from the first six years will help demonstrate why we keep coming back for more:
Year 1 Boston
1). All I can remember is being psyched to return to Boston for a Sox vs Yankees “five games in four days” showdown, and then spending the entire weekend trying to drown out the memories of each mounting loss for the Red Sox. It was a five-game sweep for New York.
It’s not like there isn’t more memories from this trip, but the reunion as it stands today really hadn’t come together yet—not all of the current participants were there, we couldn’t all stay in the same house on this trip, etc.
Year 2 San Francisco
1). Renting a 14-person van for a trip to Napa, “hiring” my brother to drive (hiring in quotes because we didn’t actually pay him), 12 people finishing 12 bottles of champagne at our fourth tasting of the day and still thinking we needed to bring two more bottles of champagne into the van for the ride home…which turned into the most awful-sounding hour of karaoke in history.
2). Almost letting the group talk me into driving that same van down this the next day:
It would have guaranteed me a spot on that evening’s news.
Year 3 Florida
1). One of the group members who claims he hadn’t drank alcohol in almost a year decides to indulge on night one…promptly tries to walk by himself to the beach at 3am, stumbles through a neighbor’s yard while screaming at the top of his lungs on his way to essentially walking through a jungle and getting 2,000 gashes on his legs, then puking on the house porch and sleeping right next to that puke spot.
2). On night two, a couple of us take this same guy to a bar for shots instead of getting the groceries we were sent out for. This guy falls asleep at 7pm with french fries in his mouth.
3). One more from this same guy…watching him the morning after the puking incident lather up his entire body in sunscreen only to alternate between dry heaving in the bathroom and laying on the couch the entire day, never once stepping foot outside.
4). The strange girl in our group sleepwalking on the final night of the trip, ending up outside in the front yard by herself, coming back inside where we were all playing cards and ominously telling us, “I was outside talking to him. He was out there.” Except there was no one outside.
Year 4 Arkansas
1). A canoeing trip down a very calm river ends when the two douchebags who were talking up how good of canoers they are and arrogantly high-fiving every time they did something right somehow flip their canoe, losing the cooler of beer, most of their personal possessions and one of their oars. I’m proud to say I was one of those douchebags.
2). Remember the guy from Florida that caused all the problems? In Arkansas he somehow caused the entire group to fall out of their chairs laughing when he farted so loud in his sleep that it shook the house. And of course it didn’t even wake him up (you need an offensive farter in your college reunion group…it’s an incomplete group without him).
3). The slowest-moving person in the group decides three minutes before we’re all trying to leave to go boating that he needs to take a shower. He spent the entire morning watching TV and playing on his phone, but as soon as we’re ready to walk out the door, he feels the urgent need to get clean.
4). One of the guys decides to sleep in his car on night one even though there was plenty of room in the house. He says there was no room, but really he was just pissed off at a new nickname the group had given him earlier that night. Strangely the nickname was a compliment given by one of the girls about how skinny he looked.
5). The group kidnaps a dog for 18 hours. This is no joke. On our final night of the trip, coming back from the lake, part of the group stopped at a store to get some supplies and they spotted a dog sitting in the road. Now, there are dog lovers in this world, and then there are some of the people in our group that have a flat out obsession with them. So rather than think logically about the dog in the road, the group decided it was a stray dog who looked sick so they brought it back to the house. For the next 12 hours, we fed the dog, played with it, gave it a name…pretty much adopted it. The next morning one of the guys in our group finally called the owner to tell him we “saved” his dog (don’t ask me why we didn’t call him the night before when we first captured the dog; this detail is escaping me at the moment), and the owner was beyond confused, saying that his dog wasn’t missing and that he always hangs out on that road where our group found him. He asked that we drop the dog off where we found him the night before. So in my opinion, we did indeed kidnap an animal.
6). Of course, the Sox get swept by the Yankees in four games while we’re all together, strengthening a creepy trend of the Red Sox always having a terrible weekend against New York when the BU group reunites.
Year 5 Rhode Island
1). Playing flip cup isn’t enough of a drinking game. We add a new rule that says the losing team of each round has to vote for its worst player to take a shot. Of course one team dominates while the other blacks out.
2). The guy who is obviously becoming the star of most of my previous memories tries to cook 30 hotdogs on the grill at one time, but forgets to remove a bathing suit that was drying on top of the grill, leading to a melted bathing suit and a ruined grill, and burning about 23 hotdogs.
2). Almost no one in the group wants to visit Foxwoods, but when we all convince each other to go just for a quick visit, the group loses a collective $1,200 in 30 minutes.
3). One of the girls shows up with an “adult pinata” in the shape of a former BU friend (once considered part of the group) who turned out to be a wacko. We get absolutely no pleasure from beating the pinata until we see that it’s filled with more alcohol.
3). Leaving the owner of the house (who was the younger brother of one of the group members) a pile of cash and leftover booze with a note that said, “Sorry for ruining your grill and kitchen table. Hope this helps.”
Year 6 Boulder
1). Rafting Boulder Creek and almost winding up with no survivors. I don’t know how to explain this better, but we thought we were going on a lazy rafting adventure where we could relax on inner tubes and do some boozing, and we winded up fighting just to survive. There was a nearly broken tailbone, a narrow miss of a broken hip, and we actually almost lost three people.
2). The invention of the “drawing a name out of a hat to see which sucker has to be designated driver” game. It was the most stressful 40 seconds of my life. This year there will probably be a new game invented called “I’m gonna get so drunk before we do the ‘name out of the hat game’ that even if my name gets picked no one will want me driving.”
3). Deciding we needed to tailgate/pre-game with Miller Lites while in the Coors Brewery parking lot waiting to go on a tour.
4). Noticing a disturbing trend that the person in our group who seems to still party the hardest always is the first in bed on these trips. Discussing whether we should still invite her.
5). The introduction of arguably the greatest drinking game ever invented, “Slapping Cups.” (also possibly the worst name for a drinking game ever). If you don’t know it, I promise it’ll be the best game you ever play. And it’s simple, which I learned the morning after the group sent me to bed because I couldn’t figure out the two rules that make up the game. Here it is:
6). Playing a three-hour trivia game where we had to answer questions about our own college memories. Even with over 100 questions involved, the game naturally ended in controversy with no clear winner when the creators of the questions couldn’t even decide on the correct answer to the tiebreaking question.
1). Ten college-educated adults can’t figure out how to properly divide up all the expenses from the weekend so we all crowd around a computer and watch in awe as the one person who knows what he’s doing crunches the numbers. I blame it on the astounding amount of brain cells lost over the previous four days.
2). Underestimating the amount of alcohol we need when we make our first grocery run of the trip. When we inevitably run out on day two, we go back to the store and severely overestimate how much more alcohol we need for the rest of the trip…leading to that final night where everyone is overtired, but feels like they have to stay awake and try to drink their share just so we’re not left with so much extra.
3). The guys in the group wanting to play poker, and the girls acting like this is a mortal sin, like they didn’t watch us waste five nights a week in college playing poker and ignoring them.
4). There’s one person in the group who tends to have the least flexibility with his time off and work schedule, causing him to arrive late and leave early on every trip. It wasn’t until year 6 that we realized he was doing this on purpose so he would avoid having to be part of the chaotic grocery store trip in the beginning and the house cleaning at the end. Now that we know, we’ll be subtly punishing him for this…like when he left his sandals at the house last year and we decided to throw them away instead of sending them back to him.
Although it seems like these reunion trips are all sunshine & candy corns, there’s a bit of a cloud hanging over them…the knowledge that someday we won’t be able to do this anymore. The cloud gets bigger with each passing year, and it’s starting to be impossible to get full attendance. Everyone seems to think it’ll come to a screeching halt when the first person in the group has a kid. I disagree. I think it ends when our drunken antics turn from cute to calamity (i.e. instead of setting just hotdogs and a bathing suit on fire, we burn down the entire house).