The Story: I met John my second or third week at Northeastern University. We both remember that it was out in front of White Hall, my freshman dorm, and through Tony, my high school friend who lived one floor below me and who was one of my best friends for the next 10 years. John has remained a friend for more than 20.
I don’t know if Tony met John or Dave Doyle first, but they all played hockey and the three of them became fast friends and were the center of my social life for a long, long time. Our sophomore year, they all pledged a fraternity together and that became one of our hangouts for several years.
I have adored John for more than two decades. I remember him from many, many fraternity parties. The fraternity house was this beautiful Victorian mansion in Brookline housing something like 30 fraternity boys. I was always welcome not only because I was a girl but also because I was actually a friend of a handful of the guys, John among them.
John is one of few men I have met in my life who truly loves to dance and, since I do as well, I distinctly remember dancing with him pretty much every party I went to. He used to let me into the DJ booth to help him pick music, which seems silly to say now, but was sort of special back then and was a lot different than just clicking on a playlist like we do today. There was the flipping through hundreds of CD’s and the choosing of songs and the placing them into some monstrosity of a stereo system I was not qualified to operate. It was all very involved.
John has always been an enigma to me. On the one hand, he was a fraternity boy, a party boy and quite the mad man. On the other, though, he was a very serious engineering student and he worked hard at it. I never knew until years later that a lot of the time, when he would go missing, it was because he was in the library studying, not causing mayhem somewhere else (although he caused more than his share of mayhem). On the third hand, I remember him having a very serious girlfriend for a while. On the fourth, I remember him being quite the playboy, too (but not at the same time).
I actually got to know John better after college when our band of merry fools wasn’t quite as tight. That’s when he and I started spending time together in places other than loud college bars and fraternity house basements (although we still went those places, too) and without a crowd of people around us. That’s also when I learned that there is really quite a bit more to him than I expected, even after knowing him for so many years. I always knew he was smart – he graduated from NU with a degree in electrical engineering and, trust me, they make you work for those – but once we started spending time together, I learned other things about him, too.
One night over dinner a few years after college, John told me that what he really wanted to do was to teach high school history. With his typical sarcasm, he told me it was because it was the only job he knew of where he could hang out with 16-year-old girls all day. It actually took a long time before I believed him.
Now, though, he’s back at NU working on his Master’s in Education and hopes to teach in the Boston Public Schools, which I find to be both admirable and insane. He thinks he can make more of a difference there than in a suburb somewhere.
He also coaches a couple of youth hockey teams and it’s pretty amazing to hear him talk about the kids he coaches and how he approaches them and what his philosophy is. There’s clearly something about teaching and coaching kids that inspires him but you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t know him well; he doesn’t typically let that show through his characteristic bravado.
Since graduation, there have been different periods of time when John and I have spent a lot of time together. When I moved back to New Hampshire 10 years ago, John was working for the FAA and on a multi-year project at the Manchester Airport so we continued to spend time together since he was in Manchester a few nights a week. Him being in Manchester didn’t stop us from going out in Boston, too. We used to hit up Axis on Landsdowne Street on Friday nights to dance the night away to their 80s night.
I hadn’t seen John in a couple years when we reconnected this spring and it’s been good to have him back in my life again. He’s still an enigma to me, though, and I’m never completely sure what to make of him. I think he likes it that way.
The Drink: The night we went out for our birthday drink was completely wild for me. We had been up in Brookline for my drink with Christina and then we headed over to the Northeastern campus for John’s and my drink. We all hopped into John’s Mustang, top down, radio blaring, him driving like a mad man and tore through Brookline towards NU. As we passed Simmons and Emmanuel Colleges – at about 50 mph – and came up on Wentworth and Huntington Ave., I had the most vivid flashback to our college days screaming from the fraternity house to campus in the exact same fashion.
Punter’s Pub was just around the corner from my freshman year dormitory and it is where my drinking career truly got its start. It was only a few weeks into freshman year before I started going there, gaining admission either through the front door with batted eyelashes, a library card and a smile, or with a quick yet casual sprint through the back door if it was open. Punter’s was also the location of my first bartender crush, of which there have been many through the years; I think his name was Kevin.
I’ve never liked or drank beer. It’s always been something fruity, sweet and probably has a lot of ingredients in it. That year, however, I drank Woo Woo’s. I can remember some nights just rolling into the bar yelling “woo woo!!” and by the time I made it to my favorite bartender, it was on the bar.
Yeah, it goes back that far.
So, while John was drinking cheap beers with the boys in those days, he joined me for a ceremonial Woo Woo in the place where it all began.