I was originally planning to go up early Thursday, to take maximum time on the East Hill. But two weeks ago, I learned that one of our section's recently minted graduates, now a grad student at SUNY Stony Brook, sought to carpool. I altered my departure to do so, knowing that not having a long drive at the conclusion of the weekend is most advantageous - particularly in your first Bonecoming as an "old person." (I was totally wiped after driving home from Ithaca in 2007.) It seems that not much was missed by getting upstate thirty hours or so later than expected; I don't think we really had an organized Friday wine tour this year, as opposed to last. One result of arriving Friday evening was a very quick turnaround between checking in at the Hillside Inn and the annual mass bone dinner at the Glenwood Pines. The turnout was still sizable, even if down a bit from the 70-plus we brought in at last year's Grand Bonecoming. After the consumption of another World Famous Pinesburger, we all went to the "bone house" for a sectional party. We renewed old friendships, struck up new ones, and generally reveled in a bond that now spans about a quarter century. I myself may have reveled a bit too much in the bone punch, for it was the first instance in nearly a year that I regurgitated from alcohol. We also heard enough Queen to last us well into 2012. One quirk I didn't notice until after the weekend: we used only one side of the bone house for the party, and it was the same location as the bone house of my freshman year. In other words, we quite literally did party like it was 1999.
Regardless of anything I may have accomplished this weekend, this Bonecoming would be unlike any other in recent memory. The traditional Big Red football kick-off time of 12:30 p.m. was moved back to 6:00. I really don't have an opinion either way. Matt Nagowski of MetaEzra approved, while mhaithaca raised concerns about the long-standing plans of many large organizations. After the game, as several of us relaxed at the Regent Lounge in the Statler Hotel, it was remarked that the local restaurants lost a lot of money on the day. They probably did from the Big Red Band, as many of its alumni spent the early afternoon at the kickoff event for "Marching to the Future." That would be the campaign to raise one MILLION American dollars for the construction of the band's new practice facility. The luncheon ended with the band marching into the Trillium dining hall and regaling1 us with a concert.
After the luncheon, it was...off to Kite Hill for the tailgate! Bone inertia2 led to me not returning to the Hillside to pick up my instrument, a decision that likely improved the trombone section's musical quality by a factor of at least three. This year, I did remember to bring and use sunscreen; as of this writing, I can report no blistering of my forehead. After the band made its usual rounds to Schoellkopf Hall and Ho Plaza, it reached the tailgate. President Skorton addressed the band, but curiously used multiple choice questions in his speech - what Cornell course goes that easy on its students?
At long last, the football got underway. It was...there. And it was close throughout, until about a minute and half left, with the home team up by four. Bucknell burns its final two timeouts following Cornell rushes, leaving the Big Red with a mid-range third down at their own 13 yard line. Convention says to run again, burn time off the clock, and punt the ball back to the Bison with 35 or so seconds left (and them needing to drive the length of the field). But Kent Austin is apparently a graduate of the Herman Edwards School of Coaching3, and went high risk, with a pass down the left sideline. The receiver had a step, the ball's flight was true, and 87 yards later, Cornell had put the game on ice (final score: 24-13). Of course, for the band and its alumni, the game doesn't end until long after the final whistle. I skipped out midway through the post-game concert, wanting to get off my feet. A bunch of us retired to the aforementioned Regent Lounge, after which we split up; I ended up at the home of a friend who has restarted at Cornell after nine years away - like me, an undergraduate of non-traditional age. Food arrived in short order; many thanks to Kathryn for procuring the Hot Truck and Chad for paying for it. After all that, I didn't have much left for the full-band party; I stayed for only an hour or so.
Sunday brought me to the north end of the Arts Quad for a look around Milstein (blech4) Hall, and to the Campus Store, where I bought a license plate frame to go along with the Hofstra frame on the front of my car. The next hour and a half was spent trying to coordinate logistics with both of my travel companions (I brought back another fellow bandie from my day, who reached Ithaca by other means). Once that was done...we got sidetracked in conversation for an hour. We didn't pull out of Ithaca until 3:45 p.m., and with my car the fullest it has ever been. The trip down was less eventful than last year; by avoiding the George Washington Bridge, we made much better time. By the time I'd dropped off my passengers, I was pretty wiped, so I decided to invigorate myself by cranking up Kaleidoscope Heart and singing along. (I did not wish to subject my friends to my attempts to match pitch with Sara Bareilles.) By the time I arrived home at quarter to ten, I felt refreshed, renewed, and ready for some good rest and to resume the sprint to the finish of the Hofstra related portion of my life.
Accounts of previous Bonecomings: 2010 (Grand) | 2009 | 2007 (Grand; very long entry)
1 Of course, the trumpets' "moose" cheer is the exception. No matter how far you stretch the definition of "regale," that ditty cannot fall within it.
2 "Bones at rest tend to stay at rest. Bones in motion tend to stop."
3 "You play to win the game!!"
4 The building is named in honor of Paul Milstein and his family. They may be titans of real estate, but I associate that last name with the stewardship of the New York Islanders through one of the bleakest periods in their history.