Tag Archives: Sigma Alpha Mu reunion Michigan

Michigan reunion: my weekend bleeding maize and blue

Last month, Wilson and I traveled to Michigan for a college reunion with his fraternity brothers. He went to U of M in Ann Arbor– let’s just say, many years ago (the number is too painful to put in print) — and has remained very connected to the school and his pals.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

Since graduating, Wilson has tried to make an annual pilgrimage back to Michigan to see football games with a few of his buddies. Five years ago, a bunch of them put on their organizing hats for an extravaganza reunion weekend that was so well attended and successful, they wanted to make it an every-5-years tradition.

Out of about 26 brothers of Sigma Alpha Mu (aka Sammies) in their graduating year, an impressive 20 came to the reunion this year, with many wives, and kids in tow.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

The SAM gang

They’re an accomplished group– with careers in law, business, medicine and media– with partners and probably more than 50 kids among them. But they put that September weekend in Sharpie on the calendar because — as any alumnus will tell you– Michigan bonds are mighty.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

One of my best friends from high school, Deb, went to Michigan and I used to visit her in January because Michigan went back to school a week earlier than Tufts. Wilson and I have figured out that we were definitely at the same Sammy parties. Amazingly, he lived off campus senior year in the same house Deb lived in the following year when we were seniors, and I spent a weekend there back in the day.

So I have some nostalgia for the place, but it’s nothing compared to the cultish enthusiasm Michigan instills in anyone who’s walked the diag or sang Hail to the Victors in the Big House.

We met at the stadium Friday afternoon, where everyone got t-shirts and hugs as the brothers and their families streamed in. Many of them hadn’t seen each other since the last reunion so as we strolled through the stadium on a private tour, everyone was making introductions, catching up, and snapping pictures.

And laughing. Remember how much you laughed in college? Good times.

Some genius hired a professional photographer to capture all of it and he found a way to make a bunch of 40-somethings look great.

Although I’m never all that impressed by the inside of an empty stadium,  even I was awed when we got to go on the hallowed field. The precision of the lines, the professional air of the place, and the enormity of standing on the very turf of the storied Michigan football program was cool. Some of the kids tossed a football around, making plays and tackling each other, just cause they could.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

We had a terrific dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, where everyone got a chance to move around and chat. The food was great and the video montage– with pictures from college to the present–  made everyone verklempt.

On game day, the guys were giddy. They got up early, donned their maize and blue and hurried to campus, as excited as the first game freshman year.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

The famous gold M on the diag on campus

We walked around Ann Arbor and campus, and spent too much money buying Michigan swag at MDen.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

Maize and blue duds at the MDen

Side note: Everyone was wearing Michigan colors: t-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, headbands, hats, jackets, sneakers, jewelry, even nail decals.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

School spirit was infectious

I would not have even considered showing up at the tailgate without an M on. It’s just bad form.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

Catered by the famous Zingerman’s deli (the bread is to die for) the tailgate had a full bar and coolers stocked with beer. Just like old times, only more civilized.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

Some of the brothers now have kids who attend Michigan or plan to apply, which made me feel old. In my heart, I don’t feel that much older than those kids running around campus. But the perfect antidote to that is spending the weekend reliving our college days, hanging out in a parking lot on a sunny day with nowhere else to go, drinking and eating more than we’d allow at home. Our tailgate kicked ass.

The game was a disaster. No more needs to be said about that. We all met for one last dinner at Pizza House where we tried to finish all the interrupted conversations sprinkled throughout the weekend and check in one last time before the bear hugs and goodbyes.

Some of the wives went to Michigan too so they see these men and must recognize the boys they once were: pontificating, teasing, laughing, like they did many years ago.

Michigan reunion weekend on carpoolcandy.com

The wives and daughters. We’re bonded too!

I didn’t know them as boys, only as the amazing men they are now, but to see them together– gives me a small glimpse of what they must have been like then. The dynamics of leadership, the old personality traits, but more than anything the affection and love– real love– they have for each other.

Michigan reunion on carpoolcandy.com

It’s a rare and special connection. I feel grateful to be a part of it, if only by marriage.

As we were leaving the restaurant, Wilson and five of his buddies looked across the street at Rick’s with a nostalgic nod. After getting the ok from the wives, they entered the bar for one last round of shots, just like they used to. They toasted to friendship.

The high from the weekend lasted a few days after we returned and we eagerly scrolled through the photos, trying to hang on to the buzz. It takes an exceptional group of people to pull off a weekend like that. These guys are leaders and best.

I lost my driver’s license on vacation (and tried not to freak out)

I was spending a glorious weekend in Ann Arbor for Wilson’s University of Michigan fraternity reunion (another post on that later)…. when I lost my driver’s license at the tailgate party.

Michigan Stadium scoreboard on carpoolcandy

Warning #1:  They don’t allow any bags into Michigan Stadium.

None, at all. Whatever you can shove in the pockets of your skinny jeans is what you can bring into the game.

I didn’t realize this until I was at the Campus Inn picking up friends before the game. So I grabbed my phone, camera and a credit card and left my bag in their room.

Warning #2:  Trust your instincts!
I debated whether to bring my license–I didn’t think I’d need it– but my friend convinced me you never know when you might need ID. (As if a 40-something year old mom would ever get carded by a 20-year-old bouncer at Rick’s) I wasn’t sure why I would need it but it sounded reasonable so I put the license and credit card in my camera case.

During several hours of tailgating I took the camera out to snap photos and was careful to put it back with the cards. But right at the end of the tailgate, the Bloody Marys had kicked in and I was not on my game.

I took the camera out to take a picture and my credit card fell out. As I picked it up, my friend, Eric, said “You better be careful not to lose that card.” I returned it to the case and saw the license in there.

That was the last time I eyeballed it.

Soon after, we walked to the stadium, laughing and talking as thousands of kids crowded the streets to get to the game. Just as we arrived, I looked down and realized the camera case was open and the license was gone.

My heart sank. I was pissed at myself for being a bonehead, but worse I didn’t want to be a buzz kill for Wilson and his friends. After an expletive-heavy outburst, I wanted retrace my steps back to the parking lot where the party was, to try to find it.

Although it was his only game at the Big House all year, although he was relishing bonding with his friends, Wilson took a half hour to help me look for it.

After an unsuccessful search we went back to the game. Michigan imploded on the field so although I felt badly that he missed some of the game, at least he didn’t miss any good plays.

I tried to put the stress of the lost license on the back burner and enjoyed the game experience and a fun dinner afterwards. I was worried about how I was going to get on my return flight and how I would drive at home without it but tried not to dwell.

I called campus police, emailed the tailgate caterer and asked around but came up license-less.

Warning #3  Get to the airport early if you don’t have ID
I called Delta when we got back to our friend’s house and they said I’d have to go through an extra security check when I got to the airport.

Delta terminal Detroit Metro Airport on carpoolcandy.com

Detroit Metro airport was bery bery good to me

Warning #4  Don’t copy your passport
Wilson thought it was a good idea to have my mom (who was staying with my kids at our house) take a photo of my passport and email it so I could show that to the TSA people at the airport as another official form of ID. Sounded like a smart plan but when we showed it to the Delta check-in guy he told us it’s a federal offense to copy your passport, and digitally sending it is also a no-no. Who knew? We were so grateful he told us before we got in more trouble with the TSA.

Luckily, it wasn’t busy when we arrived at Detroit Metro. We told the TSA agent I lost my license and after a bunch of questions he got a supervisor to help us. He asked what other ID I had (my work photo ID, credit cards and a health insurance card were enough to prove I wasn’t an impostor) and escorted us through the regular security line.

Warning #5:  If you’re going through security with no ID, don’t bring any sharp objects, and disguise all embarrassing items in your luggage.
My bag was checked thoroughly on the belt and then a rubber-glove wearing TSA agent went through it– right there, in front of everyone– testing for explosive residue. I had not planned for this, but was mentally rejoicing that I had put my dirty granny-pants in a side pocket and left all my see-through lingerie at home.

I was also treated to a pat down by a female TSA agent who seemed to take pleasure in ordering me around and getting to second base as Wilson looked on.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad.

Delta terminal Detroit Metro Airport on carpoolcandy.com

Wilson and I had time to kill waiting for our flight after the relatively easy check-in

We sailed through security with only a 10 minute delay and everyone was pretty nice and understanding.

Warning #6 (the most important one!) Don’t freak out.  

After the uneventful TSA experience, I was glad I didn’t come unglued and let the situation ruin my good time Saturday night. It was a special weekend with friends we don’t see enough, and just wasn’t worth the stress.

I hoped it would all work out in the end and it did. Although spending the morning at the DMV this week to get a new license may sour my sunny outlook!

Wilson thinks some good Samaritan Wolverine found my license and will send it in the mail. I’ll keep you posted.