June 29, 2010

The potholes in memory lane

I think it was my second full day, maybe the third. There I was in a small mid-western liberal arts college. In those days ninety percent of the students lived in fraternities. The first days were rush and you moved in a few days before school started. I had already pledged over the summer, so I moved right in. Pledges were assigned rooms on the second floor. They were small rooms just big enough for two desks. We pledges were to sleep in a cold dorm across the hall. Next year we would be in the 4 man suites.

I was sitting in my room alone, wondering what the hell I was in to. Here I was living in a house with 70 guys. I did not know anyone well, just a passing acquaintance with a couple of older guys from my hometown. From one of the freshmen rooms next door I heard some familiar music -- Close to the Edge. Drawn like a magnet I went next door. I struck up a conversation. Bud and I hit it off right away. We both loved the same music. That was enough for a couple of 18 year olds thrown together.

I think it was that afternoon. Bud came over and asked me if I was cool. I went with him downstairs to one of the upperclassman's suites. One room held four desks, the middle two sets of bunk beds and the other room was fixed up like a living room. Five or six guys were in the room. The windows were open to the warm August sun.

Someone dropped the needle on Donovan's Mellow Yellow. Soon a bong was fired up. Woo, White, Hokey, Sean and others proceeded to make me welcome to my new home. From somewhere beer appeared. A mellow afternoon party moved into full swing. People came and went. I got to know some of my new brothers. I learned I was in the chucklehead suite, another name for the stoner's room. I remember the guys sitting around with pillows on their heads. We laughed at the joke they needed the pillows to protect their skulls from bumping on the ceiling, they were so high.

The second semester rolled around and we could choose our own roommates. For the next 3-1/2 years Bud and I roomed together. He was in my wedding, I in his. We still keep in contact, more than 30 years since that day he cranked up Yes on his stereo.

I was never a regular with the chuckleheads. I preferred to get my highs through beer. I enjoyed a cigar far more than a doobie. But I knew the door was always open. I am forever indebted to those guys for making me feel welcome. I tried to invite some incoming freshmen to my room as I became one of the 'old guys', sharing a few beers and conversation in an attempt to make the new guys feel a little less alone in a strange place.


Fred said...

I caught it. Thanks.

Guess we all have our "preferences" huh? I suppose it helps a lot when they're legal.

Wanna know a secret? I think I'm becoming a whiskey girl lately. But only at home and only after the li'l one's out for the night.

Still miss my preference though. Dammit.

Anonymous said...

Great story. Good guys.

My first day was a bitch starting with some asshole yelling at us to get off the bus, then we had all of our heads shaved. Come to think of it, I was terrified for the next 32 weeks.


Dan O. said...

My experience in the Military was similar. At least after boot camp. Find those you fit in with the best and make the best of it and try to remember what it was like for you, when the newer guys show up.

Everybody has the same experience sometime in their life, I think. If not, they're missing out.

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