Pi Kappa Alpha's storied class of '79 turned out about 20 brothers at its 25th reunion last year, so I figured I could gin up a mess of boys for my class of '80 Reunion this past June. I mean, how tough could it be? But you know, it isn't the quantity, it's the quality, and we had a boffo time!
In other news, the - what? Okay, FOUR. There were FOUR OF US. Peter Aufrichtig, Jim Dake, Chas Horvath and me. But we had the time of our young lives anyway, okay? We don't need to be just like the class of '79 all the time, the bastards. And you class of '80 guys who didn't show up? You can come over to my house and kiss my big hairy butt.
I have definitely hit middle age. At one point during the reunion weekend we parked on the lower part of Libe Slope, an approved parking area during big events. I was backing out of the spot and realized I was facing uphill on the slope, and I was already legally halfway up it. Friggy was riding shotgun, wife Kelley was in the back. I paused. It was a clear run to the top. Friggy was grinning wickedly. Just as I popped the car into gear to gun it up the hill, my wife quietly said "No. If you know what's good for you." I meekly turned around and took the road.
The class of '85 fielded a few hearty lads at the reunion, including Mike Greenberg, Paul Faber, Chris Jordan, Jim Joseph, Dave Bloom, Mike Reilly, John Ramsey, and maybe some others. I may have forgotten them now, but believe me, I'll hear from them. Ed "Chow King" Catto was there with his future second wife, who he knew before his past first wife. If this isn't confusing enough, the university president quit while we were there, and his successor was his predecessor. This is like those man-with-a-yellow-hat-gets-on-the-train-in-Cleveland word problems, and explains why I majored in history.
Attendees at this year's Homecoming report that the active brothers acquitted themselves well as hosts, despite not providing nubile young coeds to escort all returning alums, possibly based on the informed assumption that we wouldn't remember what to do with them, anyway. I know I wouldn't. Something involving beer and canola oil, as I recall.
Ed Catto was at Homecoming, too, leading us to wonder if he even has a job anymore. Showing the type of enthusiasm that life has beaten out of the rest of us, Ed decided to spearhead a renovation of the fraternity library cum card room, in an effort to ensure that future generations of Pikes will have a classy place to gamble, drink beer, and grope sorority girls. Incidentally, Erik Andersen '80 put a twenty in one of the books in the library a quarter century ago, and it's still there. But back to Catto's dream - the idea is to tart the library up a bit with a new card table, as well as fix up some of the books. (He has written of this plan elsewhere in this newsletter.) He's going to dedicate it as the Hugh Gibbs Memorial Library, since Gibber spent so many hours in it teaching laggards how to play cards. Personally, I think having Gibber's name on a library is one of the signs of the Apocalypse, which is why I'm all for it.
The library figures into the story of the first party I went to at the fraternity, back in the fall of '76. It was a casino night party, and the prize for winning the most chips was a bottle of booze. Doug Haller, a sweet, gullible soul, was dealing cards and getting spanked - monetarily, I mean - and he called out for more chips from the pit boss, who was unavailable, due to being too drunk. I told Doug I was tired of cards and would fetch the chips, if he told me where they were stashed, which was in one of the drawers in the library. I walked home with the grand prize.
I corresponded recently with Mike Hecklinger, who is a school teacher in Seattle. Brother Hector bailed on the restaurant business and is busy learnin' grade schoolers their figures. He has some kids of his own - two or three, somewhere in there - and is married to the exotic Nikole. Mike had a visit recently from Jim Criscuolo, who I've been meaning to call since I wrote this note - "call Gringo" - in my day planner the last time I made a "to do" list, circa 1988. I mean, they're so anal. Do you make "to do" lists? If so, stop it. Right now. Life is too short. Eat a peach. Which brings me to Ratsie.
Elsewhere in this rag is the sad news of the untimely demise of Brother Jim Paradiso, a.k.a. Ratsie. Jimmy was one of the most earnest, yet fun-loving individuals I ever knew. He would roll up his sleeves and work all night, or, if the work was done, drink beer and roll dice all night. When you talked to him, you were the most important thing in his life at that moment. His intensity was infectious. Another light is turned out too soon, and frankly I'm goddamn sick and tired of it.