Going Back to College (Even if it was just for ONE night)

By Lisa Barr

So there we were in a suburban store called Campus Colors. Okay, I said to the guy, I need something to wear from either the University of Illinois, Tulane, Tel Aviv University (as if), or Northwestern — all my alma maters. (Yeah, you can tell, I moved around.)

My husband’s needs were simple: ASU, dude … Arizona State University. “Best time of my life.”

We found T-shirts, and my hubby wanted to go all out as “Sparky” the ASU mascot (you wouldn’t catch me dead in that outfit). I just wanted something cute and NOT a jersey.

Did I mention that we were invited to a “Return to College” party in my ‘hood? The truth is, we were excited. Something different. Not a dinner party or a fund raiser, but a Get-Stupid Bash. Kind of Halloween-ish with a twist of Summer and a splash of Spring Break. The best part is we could walk to the party …

Here’s how it went down:

Everyone was jazzed to go back in time. My husband kept alluding to the all-time dumbest movie ever called “Hot Tub Time Machine” (I had to go with him to this throwback to the ’80s-straight-to-video movie after a Chick Flick trade). Anyway, the hostess actually wore her pledge pin from her sorority (I mean, who still has that?). One guy was dressed as the fraternity “pusher” complete with a leather filled-to-the-brim Bota bag. One woman had all of her toes painted her school colors (and tat stickers everywhere — did I mention she is a mom of three and in her 40s). Another woman was wearing the cutest red strapless dress patterned with tiny flowers, but as I got closer to compliment her, I saw that the flowers were NOT flowers, rather mini school logos printed everywhere (where does one find such a dress?! And in Madison yet!!). There were burgers and dogs grilling. There was a keg and endless pitchers of vodka lemonade, there were vats filled with jello shots in rainbow colors. There was a deejay playing all the best of the best– Madonna “Holiday”, Burning down the House, the Go-Go’s, and all ’80s hits. I personally gave 15 requests.

Did I mention that the crowd was comprised of lawyers, doctors, politicians, a judge, a mayor, writers (hello), businessmen, bankers, Moms, Dads — everyone you would see on the soccer field sidelines was now back in the game, blasting the past. And yes, for those who did it back then (I was not one of them), but even a colorful Beer Bong was being passed around. I was, however, among the “OMG — I love this song!” group of dancers, and then later, I was lured into hilarious rounds of “What’s the Name of this game…Thumper.

Sometimes, as my husband says so eloquently, it is good for the 44-year-old soul to revert back to that 19-year-old Moron.

I looked around, and thought to myself: This is what Facebook looks like, if it could talk. The kids are away, and Mom and Dad could play, just like we used to … Everyone was telling stories of Remember when… fraternity, sorority escapades…and lots of “Big Hair” (or When I Actually Had Hair) tales.

There was lots of food but it was certainly not a dinner party. It was a P.A.R.T.Y in the U.S.A., and it was a blast.

Everyone has that flashback moment in life, usually it occurs at a school reunion, but that happens once every 10, 20, or 30 years. And that’s usually laced with excitement and nervousness of running into X, Y, or Z. This gig, however, was so casual, so Who Cares? — and just about being who you once were, and re-experiencing for several hours that sense of sheer freedom. I never knew how good my husband was at Quarters. I mean, really good. He, in contrast, was not at all surprised at how really bad I was at the game. Do it like this, Lisa. Hold the quarter like this. Not like that. I just laughed: Couldn’t do it then, can’t do it now, honey.

The hostess also put out a test — all sorts of college factoids. It was so funny to see the “cheaters” among us and those “competitive types” who wanted to win, covering up their answers. As if …

The dancing heated up, and the night was a reminder that deep inside, you are still that girl, that guy. Life got in the way, but when it makes room — that part of you pops out and goes back to a time and place BEFORE … real responsibilities, real life, kids, and adult-defining decisions.

The next day David and I went for a bike ride, and ran into a couple walking together, who had been dancing next to us just 10 hours earlier.

“That party was awesome,” they said.

“Totally,” we responded.

“I heard they’re going to make it an annual gig,” I said. “Same time next year. Back to college, baby.”

We were all psyched.

A day later I saw the same couple. I was driving, they were (still?) walking.

“Hey,” she said pointing to her shirt, laughing. “I’m wearing the same college T-shirt. AGAIN!”

“Oh, I slept in mine,” I admitted. “I never even took that T-shirt off after the party, and dancing in it all night.”

Ahh, the “Walk of Shame” … we all had a good laugh.

LB: Got a blast from the past that you want to share? Let’s hear it, GIRIillas … and no worries — Anonymity is THE name of the game.

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