I spent a few hours on the phone tonight talking to my friend Lou. I've known Lou for twenty-five years, since we met in the first semester of our freshman year at college. Lou mentioned that he had been talking to this other guy we both knew--whom I once beat in Scrabble--and this other guy (who was the dorm Scrabble champion until he played me) was saying that he wanted to get together with all of us and spend some time and talk, although that didn't include me because I once beat him in a game of Scrabble.
"Well that's just silly," I said, "Doesn't he realize that one of us has to commit suicide before that can happen? Remember that time I beat him in a game of Scrabble?"
Lou knew, of course, that I was making a reference to The Big Chill.
We were totally obsessed with that movie. Every time we got together, we'd try to figure out "Who Was Who," that is to say, which of us resembled which character in the movie. If memory serves, we were never able to get much further than determining that I was the character played by Jeff Goldblum.
Lou and I reminisced for a bit, trading lines from the movie that we still recalled. So when did you get so friendly with cops?
"Oh. My. God." sez me, "We're now the same age as the characters portrayed in the movie, aren't we?"
"Yes we are," Lou answered, "This is our time. I nail John on that all the time."
This prompted a three hour conversation between me and Lou about just what it was that we all shared back then, and how our lives had turned out, and--of course, because I'm endlessly fascinated with the topic--why it might be that John and Lou and I have never married when we live in a world were largely, everybody is pre-married, married, or post-married. And John and Lou and I are all un-married. A staggering statistical anomaly when you think about it.
Alas. No big answers were found to such pervasive questions as "What does it all mean?" and "What happened to us back then?"
Other than the occasional "Wrong, a long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don't know anything about me. It was easy back then. No one had a cushier berth than we did. It's not surprising our friendship could survive that. It's only out there in the real world that it gets tough."
Which was pretty much inevitable.
Lou is going to try and come down to pay me a visit on March 1st. He'll check with John and see if he's available to join us. I can't remember when it was that the three of us were all together. I remember it as being in a diner, drinking coffee, which is probably accurate. And if it all comes together in two weeks, that's probably how it will pan out. Although all the diners are closed now.
Something occurs to me though. The Big Chill is about a group of people who had something once and then somehow lost their way, or lost sight of it. Or something. But Lou and John and I never did. We've still got it going on. True, I haven't become the Next Wallace Stevens, John and I never bummed around Europe like Hemmingway (John) and Fitzgerald (me, minus Zelda). Lou, however, has in many ways become a latter day Leo Buscaglia, frightening as that may be. (You have to know him.) But we are three amazing men, and our lives are each amazing in their own right. We none of us has sold out or whatever. True enough, viewed through the lens of those things which held us back then, those karmic riddles we couldn't solve... well, we still haven't solved them. But then, "No one ever said it would be fun. At least... no one ever said it to me."