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America, December 25, 2005

The Annual Riverside Cafe Reunion

It's nice to see how we're all coming along

Jeff & I
We drunk yet, Jeff?
Mike & Natasha
Mike = One lucky guy!
What is there to do at Christmas time in Vero Beach? After you've recovered from your 26-hour home-flight oddssey, talked with Mom and Dad, caught up with your brothers and sisters, listened to your Grandparent's same stories and dodged all those "We're ready for grandkids" comments, where do you go?

If you're still single, you get out of the house. You split the in-laws before yet another Spanish Inquisition about your lack of a spouse. If you're married, you escape before the mother-in-law questions your fertility, you being kid less and all. Oh if you have kids, never mind. You're a gonner already.

For us still of the living, its time to head to Riverside Cafe, the only half-decent bar in Vero, where cheap drinks smooth the jagged edges of family life. Where you're bound to meet an old high school chum, and where always, you can wonder aloud how the young and single can live here year-round.

Last night was no exception. After getting a short fix for my WiFi addiction, long enough to write a few follow-up emails about my Lebanon trip, it was time to meet-up with high school friends.

Actually, I wasn't friends with Jeff or Mike when we were in high school. I didn't even know Jeff until we met at a beach house in 2003, and only became friends with Mike while on my England 2000 tour. Still, I've become good friends with both. Jeff as we hang out often in DC and Mike as we meet here and there in our work-related travels.

Tonight, I meet Jeff's newly formed family - his "new" sisters gained with his Dad remarried and Mike's girlfriend of two years. Yes, two years he's been with her, yet kept from me and tonight I understand why. Smart, funny, and smoking hot, she's a Russian treasure that could make a man understand the logic of a burka.

Me, I can't understand how I can buy us a round of drinks for $20 bucks. Five mixed drinks and a beer + tip, and I'm thinking it's Lebanon bar pricing, not the USA, that is till I taste the vodka gimlet. Ah, yeah, its nice to be back in the USA, even better to be "home".

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