Earlier this month, some friends from college and I threw ourselves a bit of a reunion. Those of us in the working world were all going to be off for President’s Day, so we figured why not impress ourselves upon our friends still in grad school? Ben and Kaytlin have been living the wild life of the chemical engineer out in Pittsburgh, and we working stiffs decided we wanted a piece of the action.
The adventure started on Saturday, February 14th–hence the official title for this weekend rendezvous. Out of all the guests, my journey was going to be the farthest; but I love traveling, so I didn’t mind at all. I left my apartment at about 8:45 AM and walked to the PATH station, rode out to Newark, and then got on an NJ Transit train bound for Bridgewater, where my travel companion Maggie would be waiting. She had the car, I had the snacks. That’s called teamwork.
I wasn’t off the train more than five minutes before we both began stripping off excess layers of clothing right there in the parking lot to make ourselves more comfortable for the imminent five hour drive. It must have been quite a sight for people driving past. Once we were down to our swimsuits, Maggie pushed pedal to metal and off we went.
We restrained ourselves from snacking until we hit the open highway. At that point, all bets were off. I don’t think I ever saw Maggie so happy as when I unveiled the bag of dark chocolate Raisinets, except maybe for a few minutes later when I offered her a honey wheat pretzel stick. I believe a phone call may have been placed to brag about our stash.
The only more essential thing than snacking on a road trip is singing on one. We trusted most of the journey to the shuffle setting of my iPod, but as we got back into the car after our one and only pit stop, Maggie squeezed the wheel within her grip and said, “I think it’s time.” I knew what she was implying.
For the final hour of our drive, Maggie and I performed a full-length two-person production of Gypsy. We had each seen the recent Broadway production so many times we were even able to call out certain bits of stage direction and choreography. You can stop with your bitchy internal commentary right there. You’re just jealous you weren’t in the car with us.
We actually hit Pittsburgh proper midway through “The Strip”, so we may or may not have purposefully gotten lost so that we could finish out the score before showing up at Ben and Kaytlin’s door step. When we finally did arrive, we discovered our host and hostess with the mostest weren’t home. They were still at the supermarket. So, Maggie and I did what any two people would do. We fogged up the windows. Literally. We turned on the heat and panted along the glass. Really, it was quite funny.
Ben and Kaytlin were back before long, with peppers, onions, fancy bread, and fellow guest of honor, Sara. There was much rejoicing. We then went up to their very cool apartment and quickly started assembling drinks, dinner, and dessert. Even though we all met each other through our involvement in the Lafayette College Arts Society, it was our mutual love of food which bound us together. We rarely did anything without food or beverage. Such was to be the case this weekend.
While Kaytlin was mixing the family-size rum and cokes, Chef Ben put me to work chopping up ingredients for his chili. Each ingedient came with some kind of passive-aggressive warning. To a seasoned cook like Ben, this was surely nothing out of the ordinary; as the lowly fry-cook, I was getting nervous. Saying things like “Make sure you take the seeds out of those” and “Be sure to wash your hands before touching anything important” is a surefire way to make someone think twice about eating what’s being prepared.
As the chili rumbled all Vesuvius-like in Ben’s crock pot, our final comrade, Kari, arrived. Before long, we were sitting in the living room, stuffing our faces, and watching The Office. Just like the good old days.
Stick around, kids. There’s going to be at least three more installments of this adventure. I’ve still got the sights and sounds of Pittsburgh, our welcoming party to the Iron City, and the long journey home to discuss. I promise awkward stories, amusing pictures, and just maybe an astounding video if you come back again…