The Festival of Meet/Meat

Today I am Baton Rouge-bound to participate in one of America’s most storied traditions: “The Festival of Meat.”

I exaggerate, of course. The FOM (as we often refer to it) is a highly unorganized college reunion, just a small group of guys (anywhere from five to ten–we’re never quite sure who might show up). We are old (I use that term literally) LSU friends and ex-roommates who used to live and/or congregate at 1956 Tulip St (in the Baton Rouge Garden District). And what a strange collection of characters we are: a disproportionate number of lawyers and clergy…plus a sprinkling of other guys from less eyebrow-raising professions.

Tulip Street 1982

During our brief time together we will consume–as the name of our event suggests–all manner of fleshly protein (from both the surf and the turf).

But the real feasting at The Festival of Meat will be found, not so much in our eating, as in our meeting. We will mostly–I can’t resist this euphemism–“chew the fat.” For hours on end, we will catch up and talk about our lives. We will mock each other’s quirks (as only long-time friends and former roommates can). We will wax nostalgic, retelling old college stories, laughing until we cry. And, as we are all older now and more sentimental due to the aches of parenting and the hard knocks of life, we will almost certainly get misty-eyed for other reasons.

As we depart, we will say, “We should do this more often! Let’s stay in closer contact!” And we will mean those sentiments with all our hearts.

But then we’ll return home. And life (mostly family stuff and work pressures) will resume. More frequent interaction between us likely won’t happen. But that’s okay…because at some point next year, or the year after that, we will come together again for another Festival of Meat.

I’m grateful for these guys. They’re good men. Each one talented and interesting, funny and one-of-a-kind.

Here’s something…at The Festival of Meat I will be, without question, the dumbest guy in the room. But the others will never make me feel dumb. They’ll just pass me another rib as someone starts telling another hilarious story.

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