The first night of our third annual family reunion took place at the Kennedy Center, where we were treated to an evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. My summer concert bar had been set quite high by the likes of Barry Manilow and Taylor Swift, but this musical odd couple and their age-defying vocals cleared it with room to spare.
The fact that Tony Bennett at 89 still sings the same notes in the same octaves with the same power as ever makes you wonder if he cuts deals with Satan instead of record studios. And Lady Gaga, who’s one-third his age, proved her jazz mettle with vocals that were, by turn, brassy, husky, smoky and beautiful. Her rendition of “La Vie En Rose” brought the house to its feet, and her genuine adoration for her other half warmed our hearts. I would say she was an altogether different Lady Gaga but for the fact that earlier in the evening, she paraded onstage wearing a red feather getup with heart-shaped pasties. It made me wistful for her meat dress days, mainly because a pair of bacon strips would’ve offered better coverage.
Continuing the skimpy attire theme, my family spent most of the next two days of our reunion at Fox Hunt Swim Club, a neighborhood pool just down the street from my parents’ home in Springfield. My parents have been members there ever since the club opened in the early 1970’s, and the pool played a central role in my and my siblings’ childhood summers. We swam on the team (except for my brother, who stayed out of the water but still made important contributions to the team during meets by maintaining a constant presence at the concession stand), whiled away hours playing marco polo and sharks and minnows, and attempted countless feats of stupidity on the diving boards. In fact, my siblings and I spent so much time at Fox Hunt as kids that my parents should’ve been paying rent instead of dues. Going back there always promises a terrific nostalgia trip.
Yesterday, we left my parents’ house and headed down Spaniel Road. We traveled that well-worn and beloved path while holding some of the same old things, like beach towels and sun screen, as well as some new ones, like my 3 year-old nephew’s hand. We entered the clubhouse, where the record board still displays my name for 8-and-under butterfly. Whenever I see that and realize my time has held up after 35 years, I feel a brief surge of pride. The feeling soon morphs into dismay because that board offers clear evidence that I peaked athletically before I even turned nine.
I shoved that thought aside and decided to spend the pool segment of the reunion acting like your average nine year-old. I jumped off the high dive, went down the slide, and even did a peanut. I think we can all agree that I’ve still got it, such as it is.