DEAR DIARY: September 20: Homecoming this weekend. Drove to Champaign to get fitted for a whole body compression suit. Really makes you look thin, squeezing everything in tight, from the ankles up to the neck. Only problem is your eyes bulge out and your feet swell to the size of clown feet. But, with it applying around 120 PSI of body fat, I can almost fit into my old letter jacket. And I wanted to fit in my old letter jacket.
September 21: Played golf with Jim Manwaring, class of ’62. Temperature was 96. He noted right away that I looked “thinner.” But I couldn’t breath very well when I swung. Kept passing out, falling down, my fall cushioned by my bulging eyeballs, then springing right back up thanks to my size 34 clown feet.
Engo, who was playing with us, found it quite amusing. Thought I was doing it to be funny for Jim’s sake. He laughed hard, then tried to take pictures of me falling down on my face only to spring right back up. Tried to take the shots with his iPhone. But he had it backwards and upside down and only got a bunch of shots of his turkey gobbler of a neck.
September 22: Ditched the body compression suit. Hey, I am who I am. So who am I kidding? No sense in hiding the truth. Everyone who knows me well, knows I’m a good 8 pounds overweight.
That afternoon, watched the Homecoming parade go through downtown. Was stationed in the shade of The Vault. Here came Jim Manwaring, riding on the back of Lonnie VonLanken’s beautiful burgundy-red Corvette, in honor of his Hall of Fame selection. As Lonnie drove by, I yelled out “Hey, Nick. Nick.”
Nick is Lonnie’s nickname to some of us who played ball with him in high school. And “Mick” (which sure sounds like Nick) was Manwaring’s high school nickname. And standing on the other side of the street, in the entry way to the old Pharmacy building, stood Nick Bates.
At the exact moment I yelled out “Hey Nick, Nick,” Lonnie and Manwaring turned to look at me while Nick Bates stood in perfect alignment with the top of Lonnie’s head. It was a triple Nick, a Nick trifecta, a Nick in time. I was up to my elbows in Nick nicknames. The Nick’s were aligned perfectly, and I interpreted it immediately as a sign that the Warriors would win the game tonight…that, along with reports from insiders that we’d kill them.
September 23: Introduced Manwaring at Hall of Fame luncheon. Perhaps I over did when I said he invented water. Perhaps. But he did do lots of good things with water.
I pointed out to the gathered throng that his class of ’62–many of whom were in attendance–is infamous for feeding ex-lax to chickens and setting them loose one late night in the halls of Arcola high school. In fact, an entire page of our town’s precious history book is dedicated to this odoriferous deed, illustrating better than anything just what really matters in Tuscola history.
Allegedly, Arcola, in an act of petty vindictiveness, came north and set our football field on fire. (Where was Jim with his precious water then?) We then invaded Gays, southern suburb of Arcola, to establish a beachhead from which to launch various outhouse-based military forays into their heartland. But perhaps I’m getting a little carried away here in this rivalry stuff…
September 24: It all came to an end. It was great to see old friends come home. If just for a weekend. But then they bundled up and went home, from their old home to their now home. It is melancholy: Homecomings and Homegoings. Often happy, sometimes sad and anxious. Recapturing memories, trying to bottle the past, checking the markings for how much we’ve grown, or shrunk, and changed. How much the town, and our classmates have grown or shrunk and changed. People jangling, bouncing, rebounding all around the town like those ball bearings in a pin ball machine. Then the game is over, and the dazzling lights go dark.
It’s a little dizzying. But, in the end, things end. And we all go home.