The Story: I met Mike my freshman year of college. He was friends from “back home” (Western Mass.) with my first college boyfriend, whom I affectionately refer to as The Antichrist. He and Mike worked together at a sporting goods store during high school, so they were friendly before they came to Northeastern. The Antichrist transferred to UNH after our freshman year and we broke up by the end of that year (turned out he had another girlfriend up there, and even had the audacity to have her drive me back to Boston after a visit one time) but Mike and I stayed friends for many years. I definitely made out on that deal
I hadn’t seen Mike for a solid 15 years when we met for a drink this winter. After college he met and started dating Leslie, whom he later married and had two beautiful daughters with, so he’s had his hands full. In fact, it took us a few months to actually coordinate a day and time when we could get together for the drink, but I’m glad we kept trying because it was amazing to see him.
Mike was a huge part of the fabric of my life for many years – probably close to a decade if I stop and count. I remember bringing him home to NH for all manner of events and occasions and I remember going home to W. Springfield for visits and events with the Sicilianos.
I asked Mike what he remembered about our friendship and he reminded me of the story of New Year’s Eve 1990 when he and I and the Antichrist were wandering around the Back Bay, after being who-knows-where, apparently drinking some form of grain alcohol, and…I have to let him tell it: “all I remember is, we were on Boylston Street and you were having a conversation with a parking meter.” And then he nearly fell off his barstool from laughing at the memory of it.
The funny thing is, after he said it, a vision of the scene came hazily bubbling up into my consciousness. I vaguely recall being blitzkrieg drunk and having a conversation with a short person with beady eyes, only to have the boys point out – at some point deep into the conversation – that I was talking to a parking meter. A great deal of laughter ensued once I came back to consciousness and realized that I was, indeed, talking to a parking meter.
Since these were the college years, there are many a story involving liver-curdling amounts of alcohol. There are stories from all over New England in bars, homes and at parties. Like the time that I brought he and Tony and Dave home to NH for a St. Patrick’s Day party at my grandmother’s house and another one of the guests got so drunk that, even though his cab was waiting, he wouldn’t leave without ‘paying his tab,’ so we wrote one up on a bar napkin and had him sign it. We even put our drinks on the tab. I think he even tipped us pretty well, too.
Or the time I went to a rugby formal with Mike in Pittsfield. The rugby team out there was much more into the theatrics of the lifestyle than my friends who played rugby in New Hampshire. They sang bawdy songs and partook in the disgusting “shoot the boot” tradition at parties and after matches. You might have to shoot (as in, swill, shuttle, drink very quickly) the contents (beer, liquor, whatever is at hand) of someone’s boot (as in, rugby cleat (after a match) or shoe (at a party) removed directly from the foot wearing it) for offenses such as scoring points (after a match) or messing up the words to the songs (at a party). The soggy boot is then returned to its owner after it has been drained and reinstated as footwear. The tradition is exactly as disgusting in person as it reads written here. Isn’t rugby supposed to be “the gentleman’s game”?
Or there was the time that Mike came up to New Hampshire and we hung out with Amoskeag Rugby, the local team that many of my friends played on. On that particular night, the bars closed and we weren’t nearly finished socializing. We were too rowdy to continue at my parents’ house so we grabbed a 30-pack from someone’s trunk, walked two blocks to a beautiful park where we climbed a fence and drank beer in a gazebo with Frank Baker until sunrise.
Thankfully, many more of the stories have been lost to faded memories and the passage of time but the friendship felt as good as new on the night we met for drinks and I hope that it’s not another 15 years until we meet again.
The Drink: Mike did a couple of his co-op work assignments with a company in Western Mass. He lived in Pittsfield and played rugby with the local team out there. I would go and visit occasionally and we’d hang out with the rugby crowd (probably one of the more interesting things to do in Pittsfield, Mass.). There was one guy, neither of us can remember his name now, who would randomly put a fist on each of his temples and yell out “hammerhead shark!”In my memory, we did this because that’s what we were drinking but Mike set me straight. It turns out that I was mostly just drinking Woo Woos, and, this was not an all-the-time thing. Apparently this guy only pulled the hammerhead shark routine when I was around.
So, to honor our friendship and some of the more ridiculous things we’ve done, we shared a Woo Woo but renamed it a Hammerhead Shark for the occasion. And then Mike made me do the Hammerhead Shark move so we could capture it for posterity. (If I went back in my photo albums to somewhere around 1992 or 93, I could probably find some originals of the move and, possibly, even the guy who patented the move.)