It was a dark and stormy night. Well, not really, but I read somewhere that all stories should start out that way. Maybe Cagle told me. Anyway, the weather, as I recall, was cool, but pleasant that night. I know, because of the walk. It was the fall of 1963. It must have been around 11 p.m.. We (my pledge brothers & I) had finally gotten our sleeping bags arranged on the living room floor in the Nordhoff House. The actives were all nestled, snug in their beds. Dreaming about whatever actives dream about. This was before the oil drum with the car horn and battery and all the tumbleweeds, so we were not being watched.
There we were, trying to get comfortable and talking/grumbling. The talk died down and I was headed off to sleep, when someone (probably Howard) said, "I'm hungry". No response. Again, "I'm hungry". Somebody else says, "Me too". This time there was a response, in fact several. "Shut up!"... "Go to sleep"... "Grumpff"... "I've got an early class tomorrow". Long silence. "Does anyone want to go over to the Comet and get something to eat?" Now the conversation spread. We quickly reached consensus on the insanity of the idea of going out to eat at that hour of the night. Then we got up, dressed and headed out the back door. All of us went. We decided to walk, since there were too many for one car and we didn't want to wake the actives. It wasn't that far anyway. We talked and laughed all the way. Ate, talking and laughing all through the meal. Delicious, healthful fare it was too. Left a generous tip ($.27) and headed off into the night still talking and laughing. Once back at the House, sleep came quickly and so did the next morning.
I don't think any of us realized that in living out the Creed or the Motto, whatever it was (you know, the part about "none goes his way alone") we were forging a bond that would last as long as it has, but we were.
Somehow or other, I wound up separated from my brothers a couple of years after that. Got married, had kids, started a career. Stuff we all did, but I thought of that as growing. Saw the options of Fraternity Life and Family Life as mutually exclusive. A choice to be made. But I never forgot those brothers and all the great times we had, even though I lost touch with most of them over the years. I never regretted my decision either. Fraternity Life was great, but transitory. Family Life was better.
It wasn't until the early '80s that I discovered that there was still a Thursday night Team Meeting going on, in Century City of all places. I went to one, feeling more than a little awkward and out of place. After all, I'd made my choice. Why not stick to it. You can't go home again. It was like discovering Camelot. Nothing had changed. We were still together, still talking and laughing. If anything, it was better than before. I found out that we did things together still. River raft trips, fishing expeditions, picnics, it didn't make any difference what, it was all still fun. We were all still brothers. And it worked with my Family Life. It's a great disappointment to me that some of the guys who went on the somnambulistic jaunt to the Comet back in 1963 haven't been with us much over these past 17 years. We can't find Rupe, Steve and Gary. Haven't found them yet anyway. Others I've talked to say and believe the same things I used to about their Fraternity Lives. Perhaps they see a return as a regression, perhaps a betrayal, or something unworthy of a grown man. That's bullshit! Maybe they believe that they wouldn't be welcome or feel as though they were a part of things anymore. Also bullshit.
If anybody who hasn't been around for a while reads this, believe it. Come along, there are all kinds of opportunities. You've been away too long. It's an insane idea, but do it anyway.