Eleven years ago my buddy Brian hosted a bowling/bbq event in Norristown, PA.
It didn’t really have a catchy name; something that would later become a staple for our events, so I gave it a catch phrase influenced by a Camper Von Beethoven song: Take the Weirdos Bowling (take them bowling).
Pretty soon the event morphed into ‘Bowling with Weirdos’. Over the years the folks in the east coast scene we were part of just sort of adopted that- the Weirdos. Various factions of the Weirdos have traveled tens of thousands of miles together- Brian and I have been to Mexico and Canada as well as road trips that have seen us speeding through West Virginia, camping in Massachusetts, redefining the concept of ‘Wing Men’ in Ohio (you didn’t have a wingman- you had a fucking squadron) and even going to a grown up Prom in Toronto where the menu boasted sheep testicles.
I’ve called myself an adventurer before; I think it’s even on one of my business cards. But those adventures, despite spinning wildly and amazingly out of control, were always more fun when the Weirdos were around. I joke that Brian remembers more of my life than I do; he was always the one who made sure that when things were at their most chaotic there was still an order to them. Between Bucket and I I’m not really sure how Brian doesn’t have more gray hair. The babysitting time he’s put in over the years is legendary. I’d never call him a voice of reason. Far from it. Even though he was sometimes the only sober one amongst us he’d still roll up his sleeves (or more to the point, pull down his pants) and jump into the maelstrom with us, usually with Cornelius in tow documenting the whole disturbing affair.
I don’t see as much of him as I used to. This is the sentimental part that plays out like the end of Stand By Me- but when we get together, like we did today, the stories start rolling and we get into a groove in telling them; verbal pingpong where each of us knows which part of the story is ours to tell and seamlessly bouncing back and forth to the eventual conclusion (where someone usually ended up naked or in some sort of trouble) of experiences so questionable that most people would think they never happened had we not been there shooting pictures.
The scene we were all part of, like all scenes are wont to do, has changed. We find ourselves the old bitter punks talking about how it used to be before the kids came along and messed it up. Our adventures truly were a ‘time and place’ sort of thing where they couldn’t be replicated now if we tried. A perfect storm lined up and the Weirdos rode the wave. No matter what changes we’ve made- and I hope that we’ve all grown up a lot since the early days-we cut a swathe of fun and adventures that I’m damned happy to have been a part of.
This afternoon a few of the old Weirdos got together and had brunch. We told stories to our newer friends and it really brought me back. I’m proud of being the man who I’ve become. I have no interest in making the mistakes I’ve made again (which is the reward for dealing with the pain of having made them) but I couldn’t help but grinning as we paraded our dirty laundry so flagrantly that we offended a stripper who had joined one of our friends, making her excuse herself and leave early.
At the end of our meal I cracked into a fortune cookie and pulled out this: You will always be surrounded by true friends.
So thank you, Weirdos, for a hell of a time.
Photo: Brandon, Me, Brian + Fortune. New Harmony restaurant, Philadelphia.