I’m not ashamed to say that the wild boys were my friends.
Billy Joel got it right: The memories of our high school years are writ large in the narrative of our lives. And the stories of those days, mostly true, some apocryphal, give us claim to a slightly dangerous past when our present becomes constrained by jobs and mortgages and the progress of our cataracts.
To be clear, I wasn’t a wild girl. In fact, I spent most of my weekends singing “If I Had a Hammer” at home-grown hootenannies. But I married a wild boy, and his crew made history at Lawrence High School when they attended, from 1962 to 1964. (We had spent our freshman year at Lawrence Junior High School, and moved when the high school opened.)
Last week, 14 of us from the class of ’64 (some spouses) gathered at a resort in the Dominican Republic for a getaway. We came from Long Island, New York City, Miami and Louisiana. Our first toast was to Bettye Epstein Beaton, the glue in our 50-year friendships. Bettye, who died two years ago, kindled the friendships all those years ago. Now we carry the fire.
Looking around the large table at dinner the first night, we took account: three heart attacks, four stents, one artificial hip, one bypass, two cervical spine surgeries, one brain surgery. Among the six women, there were 8½ breasts. But no one seemed especially chastened by life’s slings and arrows. And, surrounded by other 67-year-olds, what was the point of kvetching about back pain? I thought we looked like a group of kids who had gone to Central Casting to get our hair dusted with white.
We passed the days in the sun and the surf, hiding behind Kindles, slurping frozen drinks at the pool bar, gathering for lunch and dinner. All good. But it wasn’t until the last night, when, well marinated by Cosmos, toasted by the sun, with a sprinkling of salt from the Caribbean, the spirit of ’64, the Golden Tornadoes ethos, took flight.
I promised to omit last names just in case the statute of limitations hasn’t run out on some of the wild boys’ crimes.