Saturday, November 1, 2008

As Much As Things Change... Nothing Changes At All

When I was a kid in high school, I was very fortunate. Our high school, New Trier West in Northfield, Illinois had a 100 watt FM radio station. It covered a large part of the north shore of Chicago. The friendships that were fostered at WNTH 88.1 FM in the mid 70's have continued for more than 30 years. We were a bunch of guys that had one thing in common. We ate, drank, breathed and slept the radio station, sometimes at the expense of our classes and grades, to our parents dismay. We were passionate, we wanted to learn about radio and broadcasting we had a love of music, electronics and most of all, we wanted to have fun!

Through the years we have all gone off in different directions and careers. Some still live in the Chicagoland area and some of us have moved out west. What is so special is that we have maintained our friendship through the years.

At this point, I must note that I am the youngest of the group. I will turn 49 this month. The majority of the guys have already turned 50 or are turning 50 this year. With that said, we thought it would be great if we all got together in Las Vegas for a weekend to celebrate everyones 50th birthday. A mini high school reunion if you will. We have done this periodically through the years and always have a good time.

This year it was no different but a bit more symbolic. As I get older, I get a little more sentimental as I cherish the times we all get together. We had the big weekend last week. Telling you that it was a great time would be an understatemt. It is hard to explane because we really did not do anything that was out of the ordinary except share each others company.

I'll share some hightlights in a minute.

First, a little insight into the group.... There were nine of us. The group from Chicago included Alan who travels around the country and the world selling electronic components, Loren who is an attorney specializing in realestate, Steve who is a doctor (MD), Kenny is a financial adviser and Bill is a CPA, accounting software consultant and now a pain (back) management specialist. Roger and Scott came from Southern California. Scott manufactures dance shoe's and costumes for dance schools around the world and Roger is a voice actor / actor and producer in Los Angeles. Tom came in from Portland and he is the former Chief Engineer of a number of television stations and now runs a media monitoring business in the Portland Area.

On with the story... We met and stayed at the Paris hotel in Vegas on Friday evening. We all look the same, some of us a little heavier, some of us with gray hair, some of us with no hair and then some of us with all of the above! We had drinks and caught up at the bar. Scott had arranged for us to go see Elton John that night. How symbolic was that? When we were growing up Elton John was at the top of his game, his "Good By Yellow Brick Road" album was one of the biggest albums of the 70's and we played Elton John songs all the time on WNTH. The concert was great! We came full circle! As a side note, both Loren and I agreed that "Grey Seal" off the "Good By Yellow Brick Road" album is one of our favorites!

The next day we did things that we would never do if we were with our wife and kids. We went to the Atomic Testing Museum and then went to an indoor shooting range where you could shoot just about any type of handgun or riffle. I didn't shoot, but I was the official photographer. There were some very interesting people at the target range! All and all a great day. It was capped off by a relaxing couple of hours at the pool hanging out in the jacuzzi and in lounge chairs talking and picking up where we had left off the last time we were all together.

Growing up we would hang out, go to the movies and always end up the night having pizza some where. The places I remember were Jakes, Carvelle, Yesterdays and Barnaby's. It was fitting that we went out for a nice Italian dinner. Once again, Scott came through and suggested that we go to Il Mulino at the Forum shops at Ceasar's.

A fabulous choice! This could be one of the best Italain restaurants I've ever eaten at. Instead of stuffing our faces with pizza, we were gorging ourselves with fine northern Italian cuisine. Back in the day we would share cheese, peperoni, sausage and veggie pizzas. At Il Mulino we were sharing Grana Padano (cheese), bruschetta, garlic breads, country bread, focaccia, chicken Parmesan, veal, ravioli, shrimp fish and more. And just like 30 years ago we told stories laughed and had a great time.

One of the more comical and telling events of the evening was right at the beginning after we sat down. The waiter brought over the menus. It was so dark and the printing was so small on the menu that none of us could see. We all had to borrow Steve's pocket L.E.D penlight so we could see what to order. I guess our eyes are not what they used to be. As always, Steve was prepared and there to save the day!

I have known these guys for more than half my life and I realized a few things. First, it doesn't matter how long it has been since we have seen each other or spoken, we just pick up where we left off the last time. And for as much as everything changes, nothing really changes at all.

When I got home, I looked at the girls and see them with all of their friends. I wonder who they will be friends with 30 plus years from now. I only hope that they are as lucky as I have been.

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