I was able to score a good price at the Holiday Inn in Tewksbury via my good friend William Shatner over at Priceline.com and I thought it might be a good idea to get checked in and take a short nap before meeting up with Barb for the evening. Barb was up from Georgia for a couple of weeks visiting family and attending a nephew's wedding and we had planned to get together for the evening being that I was going to be in "the neighborhood".
As it was a bit warm out, the thought of spending some quiet time in a nicely air-conditioned hotel room while I unwound from the whole "leaving Amanda at college" thing was sounding pretty darned appealing but as I pulled into the parking lot of the Holiday Inn, I was greeted by this sight ...
which was quickly followed by this sight ...
and topped off by this sight ...
Rut-r'oh, George, it looked like something was afoot - though hopefully not afire! - at my hotel. This had the potential for bad written all over it but I was hoping it would be just a bit of a delay until I could get to that nice air-conditioned room. Fortunately, it was and after about ten minutes or so the all-clear sign was given and everyone was allowed to go back inside. I had to laugh when I walked up to the registration desk to check in and the girl behind the counter told me that I had missed all of the excitement. I told her that as a 911 operator that sort of thing was pretty routine and I was just glad the hotel wasn't on fire as I was really in need of a nap! She assured me that all was well and that it was just one of "those things" that the fire department tends to blow out of proportion. That's okay, I'd rather have them send the cavalry and it be nothing then just one guy with a garden hose and it be the equivalent of the Chicago Fire!
My accommodation for the night was a very nice room on the fifth floor with a gargantuan king-size bed that was extremely comfortable and a nicely appointed bathroom that had all the fixin's ...
... except for towels! Luckily I noticed that slight omission right after checking into my room and there was a maid just down the hall tending to other rooms. My guess was that she had been in the process of finishing up the room when the fire alarm went off and the building was evacuated and she just forgot about the towels when she went back in. I padded down the hall in my bare feet where I was very apologetically given extra towels for the night though I assured her that it was quite okay. However had I not noticed until getting out of the shower it might not have been quite as okay!
Before lying down to see if I could take a nap, I sent Barb a text to let her know that I had skipped Concord for the day, checked into my hotel early, and that I'd be ready to meet up with her whenever she was done reminiscing with her high school alumni. Barb had planned a mini-reunion for some of her classmates from the Tewksbury High School Class of 1972 at a local Chinese restaurant and the plan was for us to get together afterward.
Shortly after I had awoken from a nice little nap, I got a phone call from Barb who said that I should join her down at The Jade as there were only four other former classmates there but she was having a wonderful time and I should join them as she would be done soon and then we could sit and gab. The Jade is actually the Jade East restaurant but apparently in Tewksbury it's known simply as The Jade and hasn't changed in the many, many years that it's been there. From the looks of the cracked and old as the sign out front, I get the feeling it hasn't ever been changed either!
The restaurant was very easy to find once I plugged the address into my GPS and Barb was even easier to find once I got to the restaurant as all I had to do was follow the laughter! The group of five had grown to nine since Barb had called me and they were having themselves a fine old time catching up over food and drink. I was invited to sit down and dig into the Poo-Poo Platters that had been ordered and being quite hungry, I did just that. When I was asked what I wanted to drink I drew somewhat of a blank as it's been so long since I've gone out with adults for a drink, I couldn't remember what I liked! I finally decided on a Midori Sour and quite enjoyed it while I listened to all of Barb's classmates talking about their exploits from back in the day and such.
Without Amanda there to nag at me that I had to drive and shouldn't be drinking I ended up having not just the one Midori Sour but another and then later on yet another. Luckily, they don't have much of an alcohol content and I had spaced them far enough apart to not be at all tipsy or impaired but that didn't stop me from hearing my daughter's voice in my head telling me I shouldn't have another. Cripes, it was like having Jiminy Cricket sitting next to me at the table or something!
It was a real pleasure to meet Barb's classmates and even though I had no idea who or what they were talking about, their stories were all quite humorous and it was easy to find myself laughing along with them. At Barb's request, I went out to the car and brought my Nikon in to take some pictures of the group for her - I later forwarded them over to her on Flickr so that she'd have some pictures from the evening. As you can see from the picture below, Barb was having herself a wonderful time!
Now ... see that guy in the gray shirt behind the bag? That's Paul and he was the Class President back in the day. Paul drives a really, really nice car, he's divorced, is retired from a job with the State Department, lives in New Hampshire and had a marvelous sense of humor. All pretty darned good attributes! I told Barb that I thought she should start emailing the man as he seemed like a pretty good catch but alas, he has one glaring fault ... he's a Democrat. A major Democrat. And Barb is a Republican. Generally speaking, in Massachusetts Democrats and Republicans are like oil and water and they just don't mix at all but I told Barb that considering the man drives a Mercedes convertible, maybe politics could be forgotten! Oh well, I guess I'm a better photographer than I am matchmaker!
Sometime after 9:00 Barb and I took our leave from The Jade and made our way over to her sister's house on the other side of Tewksbury where Barb and her parents had been staying. It was very nice to see Barb's mother again who was just about to go to bed when we came in (Barb comes from a family of early bed-goers) and who joked with Barb about being out so late before she stayed up and had a glass of wine with us on the screened-in patio. Her father even got up and joined us briefly before he went back to bed but other than that, the house was totally silent.
It was a lovely night out as we sat out on the porch and talked until sometime around 12:00 when we both decided it was getting pretty late. Seems like the two times I've met up with Barb, I've kept her up way past her bedtime. I wonder if that makes me a bad influence?? Or maybe I'm just getting Barb ready for our cruise when I seriously doubt she's going to be going to bed at her usual early hour - not with comedy clubs and piano bars on-board! Heck, maybe I can even teach her the fine art of sleeping in!
All in all, it was a very nice evening and I was happy that Barb had invited me over to The Jade. I had the chance to meet some lovely people, eat some tasty Chinese food, and drink more than I have in years. Hmm, on second thought, maybe it's Barb who's the bad influence??