In 2010, I was 19 years old and up for anything. It’s a really long story, but my best friend was a 68 year old man. We would hang out a few times a week. We’d go to dinner, peruse the library, and listen to old records. There were a few times we took a road trip. One of our most memorable outings, though, was when I was his date to his 50 year high school reunion.
One day in early summer, I got a call from Bill. In his raspy voice he said, “Jaelan – it’s Bill – my 50 year high school reunion is tomorrow at Boston’s. Would you come with me, and be my date?”
Bill always called me with wild ideas, so I wasn’t completely shocked at this proposal. Plus, it was always a good time with Bill. Naturally, I agreed to be his date.
My Date with a 68 Year Old
It was a really muggy night in June, so I threw on a tank top and shorts. Remember, I was 19… I don’t think I asked what the dress coded was, but even if I did… Bill was wearing coveralls. Around 5:30, we made our way to the restaurant in his 1984 blue chevy pickup.
When we got there, we were ushered to the back patio where 50 other blue-hairs were chatting in Hawaiian shirts, bowties, and pantsuits. Bill introduced me to a few people of interest and we sipped unsweet tea while we exchanged pleasantries.
The thing that has always stuck with me was how jolly the old men were with me – asking me questions about college and wanting to know where I grew up – but the women wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. We received a few sideways glances of disapproval, but Bill and I just laughed it off. I chuckle when I think of it now. How outrageous it must be to be surrounded by your aging peers, only for Wild Bill to show up with a teenager on his arm.
We ended the night, just the two of us, at Ben and Jerry’s for a cup of ice cream. Bill had his regular – vanilla – and I had mint chocolate chip. We chattered about his old friends and about the guy he was in high school. We laughed at how my “magic telephone” would answer any of our lingering questions like who sang Who Will Buy The Wine or what year did Marie Antoinette reign?
A Once in a Lifetime Friend
Bill never married or fathered any children. He made his family from the friends he collected along the way and I was so lucky to be one of them. I hope I’ll always remember that date with Bill and I cannot wait to tell my kids about him one day while we’re listening to some of his old records and flipping through his old books. I dream of the day one of our kids asks to see the antique milk bottles on top of our kitchen cabinets. I’ll smile and tell them yet another tale of Wild Bill and the crazy 19 year old on his arm.