In the last few years, I’ve started to feel old. Not exactly in a creaky, hey-you-kids-get-off-my-lawn way, but I haven’t had the same energy I had at 18 or even at 21. I found myself looking forward to a bottle of wine in a nice Palm Beach restaurant a teeny bit more than standing in a crowded, shout-to-be-heard bar at 3 a.m. I liked getting to bed by midnight on the weekdays so I’d be able to run early the next morning as the sun came up.
And, finally, the kiss of death: I started thinking the interns at my office seemed awfully sweet, earnest and naïve.
Maybe I wasn’t old. But I was certainly growing up. Then I went to my first grad school party and got caught a time warp.
Red plastic cups. Lots and lots of beer. Barely furnished house with an unfinished basement. The main source of entertainment? Beer pong.
Standing in the unfinished basement, I felt disoriented. The five years since college evaporated and I was 18 again, holding a red plastic cup and watching a ping pong ball splosh into a beer.
It’s important to know that I don’t particularly enjoy beer pong. I don’t like beer (vodka tonic pong, anyone?) and I have zero hand-eye coordination. It’s just not my game. And, like watching your boyfriend play video games, its entertainment value is short lived.
I had a moment of panic – this is how I’m spending the next two years? – but it passed quickly when I realized this was not Freshman Year, Part Deux. Some very important things were different.
For starters, the people were older, which went a long way toward elevating things. The conversation wasn’t about majors and dorms, but rather where we’d been and what we’d done. No one threw up in an inappropriate place. And there weren’t any shenanigans going on behind closed bedroom doors.
It was just a bunch of newly arrived students getting to know each other and thrilling to the idea that for the first time in years they didn’t have to go to work in the morning. They were celebrating by playing beer pong.
And I had a great time.