“I never had a bachelor party, and perhaps never will, so let’s get together in New York City for the last chance to have fun in any of our lives,” my friend Johnny wrote a few weeks ago, drumming up our old group of buddies to celebrate his 35th birthday.
“Why not just skip straight to the funeral, since our lives are over?” I suggested.
We’ve all been friends since the first grade, so even though the premise for the festivities was debatable, I wanted to go. When you have two small kids, though, you can’t just leave for the night without some serious spousal negotiating. In the end, you can make it happen, but not before agreeing that, for the foreseeable future, the ripest diapers will have your name on them.
Of the six guys who descended on New York City that evening, three of us were married, and I was the only one with kids.
“We’ll have some laughs, they’ll make fun of my bald spot(s), and I’ll be in bed by midnight,” I thought.
The evening started out as expected. A few six-packs in a hotel room, back-slapping reunions as people arrived, pre-emptive arguing over the hotel bill.
“Gimp!” we all yelled when our buddy Gimp finally arrived, always the last one there. We all know that we’re too old to call someone by a nickname like “Gimp”, but we forgot his real name long ago, and at this point, we’re too embarrassed to ask.
From there, the evening slowly progressed. And regressed.
“To the bars!” someone said. If you’ve never been, a New York City bar on Saturday night is the place you go when you no longer want to be able to hear the people you’re talking to, and you want to pay $16 a drink for the privilege.
“Don’t you want to stay here for a little longer?” I asked.
“Dude, let’s go meet people,” Johnny said.
“I’m too old to meet people. I like the people I already know just fine,” I replied.
9pm became midnight. Midnight became 2am.
“Please, can we leave?” I begged, but I don’t think anyone could hear me. The next day, my kids wouldn’t care how little sleep I’d gotten. My friends, who could nap all day if they wanted, had no sympathy. Such is the luxury of those who are only responsible for wiping their own behinds.
Finally, at 3:30am, I convinced Gimp to go back to the hotel with me, a suite we were sharing with Johnny and his brother, Ryan. Since this was Johnny’s party, Gimp and I volunteered to take the pull-out couch. Just as I closed my eyes, snug in my flannel pants and undershirt, Ryan returned.
“Johnny will be up in a minute,” Ryan said. Then, as an aside, he added, “with a bunch of people.”
Those words floated in the air as I considered their ramifications. Then the door flew open and Johnny entered carrying more six-packs, flanked by what seemed to be the entire patronage of the bar I’d recently escaped.
They plugged an iPhone into the hotel’s alarm clock and blasted party music, passing beers over my prone body. I turned to Gimp, wondering if this was actually happening, and he just shook his head, closed his eyes and went to sleep.
I would have been happy to have been having that nightmare where I was the only one at the party wearing jammies, but wasn’t as keen on it happening in real life.
Strange new people pulled up chairs next to the pull-out bed, laughing and acting as if I was a willing party participant. It was exactly like that movie “Weekend at Bernie’s”, where people party with the dead guy. I was Bernie.
At 6:30am, long after I’d stolen the good bed, the party broke up. Next time I hang out with those guys, it’ll probably need to be somebody’s funeral.
You can crash Mike Todd’s party at firstname.lastname@example.org.