I love my alma mater dearly, but it was (and presumably is) a complete and total freak show, sometimes a very good freak show, sometimes a very, very bad freak show. And not the kind of freak show where everybody's trying to be a freak, but the kind where people really are really freaky and are usually trying their darnedest to seem normal, and when you meet them you might think for about five seconds that they're actually normal, but then they inadvertently let there freak flag fly, and you suddenly realize, "Wow, this person is a freakin' freak!"
And the alumni are just as freaky as the students (well, really, the alumni as a whole are just as freaky, but the alumni who hang out around the school are, on average, even freakier than the norm). One evening after Friday Night Lecture,* a number of us were standing around, chatting. A non-descript, middle-aged man who had been standing nearby chimed in with his thoughts on the talk. We politely listened. Then, he mentioned he was an alumnus. We began to get nervous. As the conversation progressed, he focused more and more of his attention on our friend, Zena. Soon, he was monopolizing the conversation and leaning into her personal space with a weird, bug-eyed smile. He recounted lengthy anecdotes of his heyday at the school. Others glanced around, looking for escape routes, and, one by one, they dropped away. After a couple of minutes, our large group had become a small one.
Then... "Yeah, I remember this one time, we were really drunk, and we got a whole bunch of Wesson Oil and we filled up the Pendulum Pit** and started wrestling! It was pretty crazy..." Quick as lightning, our remaining friends peeled away leaving just Zena, Wesson-Boy, and myself.
Oh, horror! I wanted to leave so bad, but it was impossible. I couldn't abandon my friend to the clutches of this heinous man. The torture dragged on and on. I looked longingly at nearby conversations full of happy, sane people not talking about wrestling in cooking products. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Zena extricated herself, and we walked away to rejoin (and viciously reprimand) our treasonous friends.
I like to believe, in that cruel hour, I was Zena's truest friend. In my heart of hearts, though, I suspect I was merely her slowest friend.
* Too complicated to explain.
** Also too complicated to explain.
Ask, and ye shall receive.