In true late-bloomer style, I didn’t dive into Facebook until this past winter.
Yet even though I’ve been slowly, cautiously tiptoeing around Planet Zuckerberg, I’ve already hit the jackpot. One night a few weeks ago, I found myself at a beer joint in Westport, chatting it up with some favorite characters from the old college dorm. This was thanks to Bubba, a man I call “The Voice of God.”
Bubba’s a born and bred Midwesterner who long ago transplanted to New York. The exact reverse of what I did. He’s one of those positive, energetic, charismatic types who can bring people together in an instant. He’s a coveted voiceover actor, so chances are darn good you’ve heard Bubba’s golden pipes on national TV, radio, the Internet and beyond. At some point, he might have coaxed you into eating naughty nacho chips or buying nice scented dish soap.
However, it didn’t take any salesmanship for Bubba to pull so many people from their daily lives and into a hopping watering hole on a Thursday night. All he had to do was post a Facebook message, “I’m invading Kansas City.” He gave local alums the when and where, and many of us from around the metro showed up. Because, well, Bubba.
It’s remarkable when you have a reunion with people you knew in your late teen years to early 20s. Some things remain the same. There’s that sensation of picking up where you left off. Neither a beat was missed nor an important academic highlight forgotten: “Remember the professor who gave an entire lecture on stage with an unzipped fly?”
Sure, we all (sort of) mature a bit. We fail, succeed, suffer, rejoice, learn and grow. We even surprise ourselves, but I think our souls have solid threads we cannot cut. That night, conversation was easy. Awkwardness was nonexistent. Laughter was like breathing.
Even little things had not changed. There I was again, not drinking beer at a place known for the beer experience. With all the years that have gone by, no acquired taste for hops. Plus, I was still Paranoid Polly, largely because freshman year in college I was anointed The Only Person Ever Mugged on Campus. (Good times.) I caught myself saying at the end of the night: “Hey, it’s dark and teeming with unpredictable drunks out there. Let’s walk out together.” Not one person questioned my Mr. McGruff-ness. They knew my history.
Then, maybe, other things are different today. I sensed a shift. The pesky middle age stuff. Some of us discussed parenting current dorm dwellers. We’ve been replaced! And it seemed we were sounding like our Uncle Ralphs and Aunt Pearls. We uttered words and phrases that never existed back in Hatch Hall: “Downsized. Gallbladder surgery. Contract work. Massive heart attack. Compressed disk…”
But Geezer Emergent Radar Sightings seemed just a blip on the big picture. The overall mood was, “Hey, we’re reconnecting, having a beer (or wine), laughing and yakking. And Bubba’s here!”
I’m pretty sure we snapped more pictures in a few hours than during our entire college careers. Back then, cameras were clunky with ice cube flash bulbs. Phones were olive green and attached to walls. Computers were not personal. But that night in Westport, a combination of all three items was in the palms of our hands. We were in full group selfie mode, because we’re alive and kicking and now more aware that every moment counts. We still have memories to make, goals to achieve.
I may never, ever drink a beer, but at long last, I’m raising a glass to Facebook. And Bubba.