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(Glen Rock Guys’ Night Out – 23 Years and Counting)
(Glen Rock Guys’ Night Out – 23 Years and Counting)
Colin Stephenson, GRHS Class of 1981, is a sportswriter for the Long Island newspaper Newsday. He lives in Glen Rock, is married to Karyn, and they have three sons.
We would never miss a Monday, because that was the night The Office offered specials on draft beer. At some point, they shifted their cheap beer night to Wednesdays, when they also had Trivia Night, and so we moved our weekly get-togethers to midweek and we played Trivia every week. Our name was The Old Farts, and we would win every so often.
We were (relatively) young men when we started, back in 1999. That was the year I got married and moved back to Glen Rock. My friends, Henry Pfeiffer and Mike Tuttle, had gotten married a year or two before me and had moved back to town with their wives. They and our friend Rich Stemper were going to The Office every week for Happy Hour, and when I moved into town they invited me to join them. All of us had attended Glen Rock High School together. Henry, Mike and I had been in the same homeroom, and we graduated together, in 1981. Rich was a year behind us, Class of 1982.
We weren’t some alumni group or anything, just a bunch of guys who had been friends in high school and were now getting back together after having gone away to college and moving around for a time. We were now back where we started, so I guess we kind of picked up where we left off. (Rich wasn’t actually back where he started; he’d moved to Montvale.)
Years later, when The Office closed for renovation, we had to move our weekly gathering to different locations. When they reopened, we never went back, mostly because they weren’t selling cheap beers anymore. But we never stopped getting together. Our outings weren’t about the place; they were about us getting out, away from work, away from our wives and kids, away from everything for a couple hours, to just have a few beers and tell a few jokes.
Back in high school, we kids would always complain about how boring it was living here. Dead Rock, we called it. But complaining about things was just what you did as a teenager. Even then, most of us would grudgingly acknowledge that whatever we thought of Glen Rock as high schoolers, we knew this safe, well-to-do place close to New York City would be a good place to live when we were looking to raise our own kids.
And many years later, I think the town adopted the slogan that Glen Rock was “A Town to Come Home To.’’ For me and my high school friends, it’s absolutely been that.
My graduating class had its 40-year reunion last October, and while I couldn’t go to the actual reunion, I went to the little pre-reunion get-together we had in the spring. What stood out was just how many of my classmates actually live in town. A few had moved back into their parents’ homes, but more of us had bought homes of our own.
When my oldest, Ian, graduated from GRHS in 2018, we took a picture (see below) of all the parents of graduating seniors who graduated from GRHS themselves. There were a lot of us.
I had left Glen Rock after graduation and never had any particular intention of returning. But when my wife, Karyn, started looking for houses here shortly after we got married, I didn’t object. Henry and Mike had already moved back, so I already had friends in town. When I got here and started going out with those guys, it was like going back in time, almost.
Our group has expanded over the years. I invited my neighbor, Howie Kapiloff, to come out with us, and Henry brought Mark Dreszler and Jerry Rella into the group. At one time, one of Henry’s neighbors, an English guy named Colin, became one of our regulars. I confess, that was a little weird, being in a group with two grown men named Colin. He was a good guy, though. In our group emails, we couldn’t go by initials, because he and I had the same initials. So he became BC (British Colin) and I was JC (Jamaican Colin, since that’s where I’m from).
British Colin was only with us for a short time, though. He was on temporary work assignment in the U.S., and eventually moved away. I think Henry’s still in touch with him.
Over the years, it became more and more difficult to gather every week. I went through a period where I was working most Wednesday nights, covering NBA basketball games (I’m a newspaper sportswriter), so the rest of them would gather without me. And at one point, I got switched to the copy desk, meaning I worked nights, and couldn’t go out with them at all.
Eventually, I got laid off (doesn’t everybody?), and was out of work for a long while before I eventually landed my current gig at Newsday, Long Island’s largest daily newspaper. My hiatus from the group was relatively short, all things considered.
My new job, covering NHL hockey, requires me to travel quite a bit, so I can’t make it every week. But the other guys can’t always make it every week either. We’re super casual about the whole thing. If we miss a week – or two, or three, or six in a row – it doesn’t matter. One email and we’re back on. And since we’re no longer locked into Wednesday nights, that gives us even more flexibility.
Even COVID-19 couldn’t stop us. Oh, it shut us down for a while, but a few months into the lockdown, when people started to get back together in tentative, careful ways, we began getting together at one another’s houses, sitting around a firepit in socially-distanced chairs. That was weather-dependent, of course, but it’s not like we didn’t get together in the winter. I remember one time gathering in Mike’s backyard one night in the middle of winter, and sitting on a chair he had made out of SNOW. He put a blanket over it, but my butt still got wet.
Now, I don’t see a small group of guys in their 50s and 60s getting together for beers as being an especially exciting story, but my wife informs me that the constancy of the same group of guys getting together regularly for that many years is not normal. Who knew? It seems perfectly normal to me.
After all, Rich Stemper still plays poker every Sunday with the same guys we played with back in high school. They’ve kept that game going for over 40 years.
Doesn’t everybody do that? 🍺