“The Big Chill,” UCF Style

How many University of Central Florida (UCF) grads does it take to operate a TV remote control?

Turns out, zero. But the Millennial son of UCF’s Rocket Man Mark was able to rescue movie night by figuring out how to turn up the volume for six 50-something UCF grads—three of whom can’t hear the TV anyway.

Okay, first things first: I am not dissing UCF. I love UCF. As I write this, I am wearing UCF socks and a UCF visor.

My home office has a UCF totem pole and a painting of Knightro the Knight disco dancing (painted by our daughter Caroline, a UCF sophomore). It used to have a UCF Man Cave rug, but we also have cats who pee on Man Cave rugs.

I am an obnoxiously proud UCF grad, as is my brilliant wife. BUT … I challenge any college grad my age—even engineers who design remote controls—to master THAT remote control.

Yet this column is not about remote controls or cat urine. This column is about those six UCF grads living in three states sitting in a living room on a rainy South Carolina weekend. This was the first time in more than 30 years that all three roommates from Seminole Hall were together. It was very special, particularly with our wives and Mark’s son present.

This column is about friendship and keeping good people in your life. Make no mistake: Mark, Cindy, Kevin (the remote control master), Larry, Jen and my sweet Amy are good people.

We just can’t hear as well as we did when we shot bottle rockets at obnoxious frat boys during finals week in 1987. To be clear, the wives did not assist in Mission Shut Up, Jerks, and they are tired of the story.

In South Carolina, we recounted that story. We also discussed smuggling Larry into our dorm room after severe dysfunction with his original roomies (I will never forget the image of toting Larry’s bunk bed across the dorm green in the middle of the night.).

There was also the time Larry (a talented trumpet player) and I (an untalented sax player) attempted to woo two girls by playing Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love under their open second-story windows. We envisioned them running down the stairs into our arms. Instead, they ran down the stairs and told us to “Shut up.”

So many stories. So many laughs.

We also discussed those missing years, those three decades filled with military service, weddings, children, cars, car lines, empty nests, aches, pains, heart trouble, brain surgeries, cholesterol, blood pressure and, certainly, blessings.

All three couples have been married for 30-plus years. But in those 30 years, the Bottle Rocket Trio of Seminole Hall lost touch, missing heartbreaks and heartbeats and milestones—all in an age when keeping in touch is easier than ever.

No more excuses. These are friends. These are good people. 

Do not let quality people drift away for 30 years, even when the conversation is more blood pressure than bottle rockets. Even if they can’t hear very well. Or work a remote control. OS

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