Old Geezers Out to Lunch

Old Geezers Out to Lunch
The Geezers Emeritus through history: The Mathematician™, Dr. Golf™, The Professor™, and Mercurious™

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Old Dogs, Old Tricks

—this piece was written quite some time ago, but I've held it back from publication, afraid, I think, that some of the Geezers would be unable to handle the sentimentality—Mercurious

I spent the weekend in Washington DC with four old friends I've known since I was 12, 13 years old. We went to junior high and high school together, stood up for one another at our weddings to high school sweethearts, watched our children grow up, progressed in careers together, and one day in the future we'll be considering how and when to support one another after heart attacks or at funerals.

This particular DC gathering represented a large segment of the group with whom I have played a ceremonial Christmas-time game of Monopoly since 1972. For 37 years, I've grown older with these guys over Monopoly played on the very same board. In 1972 we were shaggy headed, bearded, and some of us stridently liberal. These were Monopoly games of a peculiar intensity. At times, the negotiating of real estate between rolls of the dice has been measured in hours. (I'm not kidding about this.) In recent years, though, we've sometimes flown in to a host city from far-flung regions to join the game, since we're somewhat scattered to the globe now.

Today, there is considerably less hair on some of us, but the beards or mustaches persist on several, and these days we argue health care reform rather than US involvement in Vietnam. A bit more honest conservatism has crept in, although a short while back Obama snared even the single acknowledged Republican among us. 

Over the course of these three recent days in DC, I was struck by the fact that each one of us had changed, and yet we're still largely the same fellows we were as boys of 16. We have surely mellowed and refined somewhat. It's as though time, like a steady wind, has carved us into unique shapes that still bear the imprint of the original. Dr. Golf is still by far the classiest among us, the Meistro is still the somewhat eccentric dreamer and musical whiz, the Professor retains the common-sense bombast for which he was once justly famous.  The Mathematician is family-guy personified, as well as sports expert without peer. If my pals were asked, I'd imagine they still see in me some of the same edgy cynic I always was.

It did please me, though, to realize that we had all been improved favorably by time—in character, if not in waistline. We have all enjoyed success in career and especially in family. It is an unusual group of  well educated and highly opinionated men, but as a group I saw that in middle age we have grown more tolerant and less arrogant than we were in the old days. At least that's what I felt about my friends; I'd like to think I've moved a little bit that way, too. I will admit, though, that a couple of times this weekend, sheer sentiment led me to think that I'm not quite worthy of friends this fine.

What I have always loved about this group of guys is the quality of the conversation. In the old days, we would gather together each summer in the week before going back to college, holing up at a northern Minnesota fishing resort to drink copious amounts of beer and argue politics and religion until dawn each and every day. Today, we drink Manhattans and Scotch and fine tequila and bourbon,  but the quality of the conversation is, if anything, better than ever. On the metro subway back out of downtown at 2:00 am early Sunday morning, the debate among five middle-aged gentlemen wearing ties and coats, was over whether Huckleberry Finn and the musical Finnegan's Rainbow were indeed racist in the time they were created, or were instead meant as social commentaries even as they were written. I daresay such a conversation rarely happens on that subway at 2:00 am.

This is now, and always has been, a very competitive group of gentlemen. Over the weekend, we played several rounds of games on playing boards that are yellowed and faded with age, with pieces made of old-time wood, not modern plastic. While I came out on the short end of two games of Risk, the outcome was different in the game that truly matters.

I kicked ass in Monopoly.


  1. What great fortune to have a bond of deep friendship and respect with such history. Heartwarming to read of your adventures together.

  2. There is an abiding joy in the company of good minds. You are very fortunate.

  3. I'd say you are worthy of friends like them and you fit right in. It is a special kind of gift to have lone time friends like that. Years go by and you can just pick up where you left off. I have a few friends like that, but I haven't known them since I was that young.