My college reunion was different from yours.
The reunion, our 30th this year, was celebrated at the Washington home of one of my classmates - one of the few so ceremonious as to prefer black tie for such an event, and the only one whose affectations include an insistence on 24-hour Secret Service protection."I think it's cool that when one of our classmates walks into the room, the band plays `Hail to the Chief,"' my friend Steve said.
"I think it's a little excessive," I replied, "especially when he's having you over for dinner."
I personally felt that our classmate Bill should be meeting us at the door. That it was a door of the White House and he the 42nd president made little difference to me. Sorry, that's the way I was raised.
Some 1,200 people attended the reunion of the Georgetown University Class of 1968 last weekend, and the pomp and circumstance notwithstanding, I think it was enormously gracious of President Clinton and his wife to give us the run of the White House for the occasion.
My only real beef was with the entertainment.
It's not that I dislike the Righteous Brothers, though I've never been a big fan. But I do believe there are performers who were popular in the 1960s who actually have managed to maintain significant recording contracts to this day.
It was the White House, after all, and, as I told Steve, "To play a room like this, with the influence Bill's got, we should be able to get the original Pink Floyd, fronted by Mozart."
But rock 'n' roll was never this crowd's long suit. My yearbook, a now-collectible incunabulum because it contains the graduation picture of a future president, includes a photograph of another classmate sitting astride a motorcycle - a Triumph, probably a Bonneville. Cool bike. But that's as far as it goes.
The nonconformist in question is wearing a jacket and tie - I'm guessing, but I'll say Brooks Brothers - and if the trousers he's wearing are jeans, they are anything but faded.
That was Georgetown in 1968. "Get your motor runnin' . . . "
It was this band of bikers, 30 years later, that was swilling beer in the Blue Room. It's not easy to be nonchalant about clowning around at the White House - clowning around being what people do at college reunions - but with the notable exception of the attire, the evening was pretty informal. Skylarking was made easier by the fact that most of us had been there before - the Clintons had been hosts of the reunion five years earlier.
Of those in attendance, in fact, the least relaxed seemed to be the president himself. He was short on conversation, and the look in his eye was new. Call it a look of rumination, a look that says in Washington, hunting season is year-round. I didn't ask him, but he didn't seem to enjoy dancing to the Righteous Brothers any more than I did.
When he stood to speak after dinner, he cited the 22nd Amendment to explain why we were unlikely to be invited back a third time. Someone shouted, "How about Hillary?" He said there was no prohibition against that.
No one needed reminding that our classmate Bill is not just one of the guys, but on this night, at least, neither were we.
And we couldn't help trying to imagine what might happen five years from now. What are the odds, we wondered, that Citizen Clinton will be wandering around the campus in cutoffs with a camera around his neck, snapping pictures of us? What would it be like to have all the uproar behind him?