by Bill Glovin, BA "77
Even with a reservation, theres a long wait for a table on a Saturday night at the Old Ebbitt Grill. Its not a problem for 15 GW alumni hoop fanatics. Weve just come from the Smith Center, where our mens basketball team won a close game against a good St. Bonaventure team.
This reunion photo was taken by Ron Howard, former director of the GW alumni admissions program who passed away from cancer a year ago. Ron never missed the groups Saturday night dinner. From left: Asa Strong, BA 77, Paul Heimer, Mark Bleiweis, BBA 77, Dan Uslander, BA 77, Paul Giancola, BA 76, Bill Glovin, Dick Morris, BA 77, Mark Warner, BA 77, and Keith Frederick.
Now, were gathered around a TV at the bar, watching the University of Maryland choke away a 10-point lead against Duke in the final minute. Earlier, in our hotel room, we watched Notre Dame beat Georgetown at the MCI Center.
All things considered, this is measuring up as a perfect day for a Colonials fan.
The hostess finally gives us the nod and escorts us to two separate tables. We politely ask to rearrange things and, in a matter of minutes, are all sitting around one elongated table. After all, dinner together is an integral part of our annual weekend for friends from Metro DC and Chicago, New York, and Atlanta. It wouldnt be the same sitting apart.
Most of us first met as Thurston and Mitchell Hall sophomores in the mid-1970s. Im an exception, having transferred to GW as a junior.
My connection to this crew began one afternoon after my favorite course: an elective, no-credit basketball class. Two classmates, Mark Bleiweis and Mark Warner, invited me to their G Street flop house for a beer. The decor of the three-story former frat househome to about 14 GW studentswas beat up sofas, chipped paneling, and dim lighting. Bands such as Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers, and Little Feat blared from small rooms down long hallways. An open door was an invitation to hang out.
The two Marks were roommates, and I met several of their housemates that day. I soon began bumping into them during pick-up games at the Tin Tabernacle. The bubble-like Tabernacle, demolished when the law library construction began, was a shrine for hoop aficionados. Its center circle now hangs mostly unnoticed at the Smith Center.
A GW-Wake Forest game opened the Smith Center in mid-season, 1976. Before that, we traveled to home games at Fort Myers in Arlington, Va. Forget the NBA; our heroes were a pair of slick Colonial guards, Pat Tallent and John Holloran, a year apart and future members of the GW Sports Hall of Fame. As seniors, Tallent and Holloran led us to road wins over Georgetown and Maryland, feats of legendary proportions.
After graduation, we mainly kept in touch by phone and sometimes saw one another at weddings or on business trips. One summer in the mid-1980s, someone got the idea to rent a beach house for a week at Bethany Beach, Del. Most of us made the reunion with our fiancees or wives.
Our desire to experience a winning Colonials team again, helped in large part by the hiring of Mike Jarvis as coach, sparked another reunion in 1993. To maximize our time and fun together, and to simplify the arrangements, just the guys made the pilgrimage. It recaptured so many memoriesand made so many new onesthat eight more weekends have followed.
After a late Friday dinner, we stay up all hours catching up and making fun of one anothers widening bald spots and expanding waistlines. Saturdays begin with stale donuts and coffee at the continental breakfast, followed by our own oxygen-challenged, full-court game at some local school gym or health spa. The game will probably continue until one of us has a heart attack.
Careers, wives, and families are always major topics of conversation. We run the gamut from potential gubernatorial candidate to a portrait artist Ill never afford to commission. Weve all been married at least once; almost everyone has two or more kids. Were still known by our college nicknames: Stork, Pooks, Uly, Mr. Happy, Bli, Warny, Arno, Hulks. The list goes on and on. Every year we speculate on the whereabouts of Shifty, aka Marc Schiffman, BA77, who disappeared from our radar screen when he began teaching English on U.S. military bases in the Far East.
Every year we recycle the same stories; rarely is a new one told. It goes without saying that we dearly miss GW. Our years there offered us something that we dont have enough of anymore: time for new, spontaneous adventures with individuals destined to become lifelong friends. For a long time now, weve known that college fosters the kind of camaraderie that is almost impossible to replicate as 30- and 40-somethings. One remarkable aspect of the weekend is that our friendship allows us to instantly share confidences, just as we did 25 years ago.
Just before our inevitable parting this year, Asa Strong seemed uncharacteristically glum as five of us settled in for Sunday brunch.
Whats the matter, Asa? asked Brad Stevens.
Im certain Asa meant no offense to his family or his commodities broker buddies in Chicago when he admitted: Im upset because I know that Im not going to have this much fun again until next year.
Bill Glovin, aka Gloveman, is the senior editor of Rutgers Magazine.