A Bachelor Party Unlike Any Other

“Are you adamantly opposed to having male strippers at your Bachelor party?” I asked my straight friend Chris, who had rather foolishly and recklessly chosen me as his Best Man.

His one-word reply was filled with typical wariness and weariness: “Yes.”

“Fine,” I huffed, “but don’t blame me if no one has a good time.”

I was deep in the planning stages for his Bachelor party, as that is apparently one of the Best Man’s duties. I knew I’d make a bad best man – the only other time I acted as one was for my brothers wedding, and we know how that marriage turned out. For Chris, it was different. He’d been clear about the fact that we were older now, and wiser, and no longer in need of strippers and boozing. Tasked with those limitations, the field for Bachelor Party play narrowed considerably. I knew I had to do something more impressive than taking him to a fancy restaurant and giving some lame toast, so I went back – way back. Two decades back, to when he first met the crew you see assembled in these photos. The original group of College Ave. kids from Cornell. I secretly invited them to surprise Chris leading up to the hours of his Bachelor’s dinner. One by one they arrived at the door, all of them showing up (some of us from as far as upstate NY), as testament to our friend.

Twenty years is a long time to maintain anything – even, and sometimes especially, friendships. Yet here we all were, a little worn and torn from two decades of living and all that it entailed: births and deaths, weddings and break-ups, reunions and distance and moves and mayhem. All of the good and all of the bad, and still this group held it together, holding onto one another for support, finding out way back no matter how much time had passed.

There was so much to say, but we didn’t need to say it. As they gathered on the steps for a reunion photo, I was transported back to the day in Ithaca when I took a similar photo. It was 1997, and the last time I’d visit them when they were in college. It was an impromptu gathering on a day that had started off rainy but cleared for a brief peek of sun. We sat on the porch steps perched on the edge of the rest of our lives, not quite realizing that we were already there, that it had already begun. That this might have been happiness.

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