The home team: The Silver Griffins try to remember
My wife and I glided toward the summit on the six-person, high-speed chairlift at Stratton with two other couples -- all of us friends since the 1970s. I said, just goofing around, "You know, we ought to call ourselves the Silver Griffins."
I'd copped the name from Bromley, the other ski mountain right nearby. The Silver Griffins at Bromley are a group of hearty retirees who ski together pretty much every day of the week; they even have a special area of the base lodge reserved for them. They're the first ones there when the lifts open, and they call it a day in time for brunch. They always seem to be smiling. Whenever my wife or I has a particularly senior moment, I'll joke about our impending membership in the Silver Griffins.
"What's a griffin?" our friend Lang asked.
Mike answered. "It's a ... it's a ... it's a kind of a bird." Mike is an attorney. He's precise, articulate and, under most circumstances, has an excellent command of the English language. But in this case he was searching for a particular word, and was having a helluva time coming up with it. "It's an old-fashioned bird," he finally mumbled.
I looked at him. "Old-fashioned?"
He knew that wasn't the right word. "It's, you know, it's half-eagle, half-lion. It's a fictional bird. A legendary bird."
"You mean a mythical bird," I chimed in. The only reason I was able to come up with the elusive word was because Mike had spent so much time pfumphing around. At the outset, I was just as stumped as he was.
"Yeah, yeah, mythical," Mike said, relieved that the search was over.
That night we all had dinner at Mistral's, an old favorite of ours that used to be called the Toll Gate Lodge back when we first started skiing together. Matter of fact, pretty much every dining establishment in the area used to be called something else when we first started skiing together.
The waiter arrived at our table, ready to take our orders. He started with the women.
"I'll have ..." Leslie began. "I'll have ... Geez, what did I want? I can't remember ..."
We all reassured her, saying that this kind of thing happens to us all the time. Though I do recall thinking, "How pathetic is that when you can't even remember what you want to eat?"
When it was my turn, I plunged in confidently. "I'd like to start with ..." And then I felt my face flush. What was that appetizer I'd decided on? "Okay, for my entrée, could I please have ..." I couldn't come up with that one either. I took a sneak peek at the menu, smiled sheepishly, and ordered the pate and the veal.
We had lots of wine, and lots of laughter, and lots of good conversation -- although the conversation was constantly riddled with fill-in-the-blank group efforts.
"We saw a great movie last weekend," my wife said. "You know that one, what's it called? The airplane movie? Starring that one I love ... oh, what's-his-face?" Together, we were able to establish the movie was Up in the Air, with George Clooney.
"Oh, yeah," Leslie said. "Someone told me she really liked that. God, who was it? Oh, it was someone in my book group ..."
"What book were you reading?" Marilyn asked.
"It was that book about the woman with Alzheimer's," Leslie said. "I can't remember the name of the book or the author. Maybe Lisa something? You know who I mean."
On Sunday, Carol and I left the ski house before noon, so we could be back in Westport to watch the Jets-Colts playoff game. Leslie and Mike hit the road at the same time. Lang and Marilyn, who didn't have as far to travel, were still in the house when the rest of us left.
Ten minutes into our drive, Carol got a call from Marilyn. "Leslie left all her toiletries on the shelf in the bathroom," Marilyn said. "What a surprise. I don't think Leslie's ever left after a weekend without forgetting something."
My wife agreed. "But why are you calling us?" she asked. "Why don't you call Leslie?"
"I can't," Marilyn answered. "I don't remember where I put Leslie's cell phone number."
Westporter Hank Herman shares his Home Team column every other Friday in the Westport News.