The Journey

Memory Remix – #7: Shadows of the Night

Archives, once again…

  University of Tulsa. 1984, maybe 1985. Let’s call it the winter of 84-85, because it was cold. Inhumanely cold. Certain death if not adequately protected while outside, that sort of cold. I’m sure the lovely folks in Canada would scoff at our misery, judging us as inferior amateurs in the whole frigid scheme of things, as they play naked volleyball in the snow and we whimper if we have to dig out the “big coat” from its dusty storage in the hallway closet. But really, we were in Oklahoma. It can get cold there. But super cold, with icicles dangling off your privates? We’re not conditioned for that. You either pray to Jesus or you move; it’s the party line.

  Anyway, I was on the planning committee for some festive shindig, I don’t recall the exact details at this point. It was probably something being arranged by the Residence Halls Association, because I was an RA that year. If you had the opportunity to go to college and live on campus in the 80s, you probably know about these Resident Assistants. (They may have a different name for these folks now, since every generation is convinced that they know more than the previous generation.) We were the fancy hall monitors that attempted to keep peace on our respective dorm floors, patrolling the building at night and trying to keep you from killing yourselves by doing something creative but stupid.

  Oh, and we had been trained to do CPR. That was a real plus. I never had to perform this miracle activity, despite the rigorous training wherein we all smeared our saliva on the plastic lips of an unrealistic-looking woman-doll known as “Annie”. (In my later years, I will admit that every once in a while I’d hear someone choking in a restaurant or a court-ordered therapy session, and some fuzzy, little-used part of my brain would perk up and say “wait a minute, you actually know what to do if this annoying choking person gets all drama-queen and quits breathing”. But then the Clara Barton moment passes and I go back to deciding between the tuna melt and the Cobb Salad.)

  But hey, you got free room and board if you were an RA. If you ain’t got no money and you’re going to a private school, you do what you gots to do. But really, it was an okay gig. 97% of the time I actually enjoyed it. It was only the occasional drunken frat boy, throwing up in the bathroom and yelling racial slurs like a woodpecker, which took the shine off the job. Try dealing intelligently with hormonal, over-privileged snots who have lost their mind on tequila and an amped-up sense of self-worth. That’s fun. (To be fair, this unrequited bigot-wrangling at least somewhat prepared me for my eventual immersion in the world of corporate America, where the racism and misogyny is given a politically-correct sheen that is wafer-thin but manages to avoid most lawsuits.)

  Back to this party thing, before I wander off again. I’d been tagged to do some promotional work so that we would get an adequate turnout. I’ve got a promo buddy to help with this particular task. I won’t mention a name, because we eventually did something that night that was not very mature, but I will at least say that my buddy was female. And she was a real pistol. (For those of you who survived that year at the University of Tulsa and knew me, part of that dwindling pool of people who happened to be in the same place at the same time, I’m sure you can put two and two together. For the rest of you, suffice it to say that my copilot had no qualms about mayhem or inadvertent destruction.)

  Our objective that night was to traipse around the campus, putting up flyers and whatnot. And I’m pretty sure that balloons were involved, an attention-getting concept that was probably really nifty in the warmth of a toasty meeting room, but verged on the suicidal when considering the howling, frigid winds that were currently sweeping the campus. This is the American Way: The people making the decisions are not the people tasked with actually making it happen. Bitterness ensues.

  Oh, and we were also supposed to write invitations on the sidewalks crossing the campus, using chalk. This was a popular, but also controversial, method of communication at the time. (Note to young people who were weaned on social media: There was actually a time, back in the dark and mysterious past, when there wasn’t an option to post a selfie of yourself chugging a tequila shot and therefore your 426 billion vapid followers would know exactly where to go in order to be hip and cool and trend-worthy) The chalk-scribbling was a very effective tool, in that people had to walk to all the buildings in order to attend classes (there were NO online courses, young grasshoppers), and therefore they couldn’t help but see your message as they shook off a hangover and staggered toward an actual, physical classroom. (Where one had to take notes using pen on paper, not the keyboard on the latest smart device, those pesky modern things which have destroyed dinner conversation across the land.)

  But there was a growing contingent of outraged people who were offended by this chalk thing. They found it unseemly and offensive. You are not supposed to write graffiti on the sidewalk. It’s rude, and when the chalk washes off the sidewalks it will kill the grass and all the trees and the entire planet will implode in an orgasm of toxicity.

  I didn’t really care for the anti-chalk tree-huggers. I’m all about caring for our planet. Go green. But this is chalk, people. Not Agent Orange. Nothing is going to die because a trace residue of chalk happens to get in the groundwater. We’re talking about simple calcium carbonate here, a natural substance, not a chemical atrocity developed by a Nazi scientist named Horst who got a bit too exuberant about genocide.

  So, transitioning to present tense, my cohort and I are piddling around in the dorm, fiddling with our promotional materials and messing around with the stupid balloons and doing everything we can to delay heading out into the night, because it’s freaking cold. Wind chill factors can kill, not chalk. The campus was not mammoth, not one of those state universities where 70,000 people could graduate on the same day, but it certainly wasn’t small, and we had little enthusiasm for tramping all over hell in the wind and frigidity and certainty that my testicles would be the size of raisins when the rescue squad tripped over my corpse the next morning.

  About that time, one of the Residence Directors (meaning one of our bosses) wanders out from wherever it is those people go when a potential lawsuit isn’t pending and he quickly sizes up the situation. He realizes that we need some motivational assistance or nothing is going to get accomplished, just like any given session of Congress. His suggestion? “Take my car.”

  Both of us, who are car-less because we were born in a time when children were not given every single thing they could possibly desire even though we didn’t deserve it, look up at him with glistening eyes of gratitude. Done!

  After a ceremonial transference of keys, with both of us thanking Mike profusely because it used to be a time-honored tradition to thank people for helping you instead of just expecting it, we’re racing outside the building in jubilation. We don’t have to go very far, a mere few steps away from the front doors of the dorm, since Mike always had the best parking place (who was he sleeping with?), cramming our things into his tiny little whatever kind of car it was. (It was red, that’s all I remember.)

  Pilot and I begin our mission, motoring from one parking lot to another, doing our thing at the various buildings. And it’s okay at first, as it always is when you’re dealing with extreme cold. You don’t really notice the pain right away. But it doesn’t take long before you can’t get warm, despite your best preventive measures and the fact that our unregulated late-teen hormones should have provided plenty of natural heat. (Grasshoppers, respect the time that you get to spend with a metabolism that supports and encourages you in your youthful years. There will come a time when that metabolism will leave you for a younger partner.)

  We’re sitting in the car in one of the parking lots, breathing heavily after dashing back from the last building we decorated with primitive invites and really not liking life at all. We can’t feel our extremities. We are slowly dying. What to do?

  Then the suggestion is made, and I won’t say who dreamed up this brilliant idea, that since Mike’s car is so tiny, it would probably fit on the actual sidewalks leading to the buildings. We could drive right up to the building and do our thing, which would make things so much easier. It was the monotonous schlepping from the parking lots to the buildings and back that was sucking the life out of us with this insane, chilling wind. (Additionally, the gale-force factor is randomly slamming the balloon clusters into sharp objects, resulting in unexpected gunfire that has us constantly wetting ourselves a little bit.) Anything has got to be better than this mess.

  So I tentatively ease the original Mini-Cooper onto the sidewalk leading to our next destination, and what do you know. The car does fit on the sidewalk. Game on! After this remarkable discovery, we’re almost enjoying ourselves. We get as close as we can to the target structure, hop out for 90 seconds to slap up some balloons and a poster, and then madly scribble something on the sidewalk. Jump back in the glorious heated car and head to the next tactical point in our campaign.

  We are warriors of promotion. Nothing can stop us now.

  But something does. We are actually almost done with our mission, just a few stops left, when something unsavory enters the picture.

  Now, I don’t know if they still have these things, but back in our collegiate day the campus security people drove these little golf-cart-looking contraptions as they patrolled the grounds. Cushman carts. Diminutive motorized annoyances that could spring on you at any moment. You did not want to hear the irritating whine they make as you were staggering back from a frat party, since 75% of the students on campus could not legally drink, even though everyone did. And you certainly did not want to hear that whine when operating a motor vehicle on the sidewalks of a college campus, a place where an automobile clearly should not be.

  But we are hearing the whine, despite the blustery wind because those bitchy little Cushmans were LOUD, quickly buzzing in our direction from the west like a mosquito on steroids.

  Oh boy.

 My cohort and I look at each other. What to do? Well, it was clear what we needed to do. Get the hell out of there before Barney Fife in his golf cart could catch up to us. (There are times when one should do the right thing and surrender to authorities. College is not one of those times.)

  At that particular moment, we had just turned onto the sidewalk that led down Fraternity Row. This is a very long sidewalk, with all of the frat houses lined up along the north side. We were nowhere near an actual legal road. The only thing we could do was get to the end of this sidewalk, which terminated at one of the streets bordering the campus, and hope that one of us knew what to do at that point.

  I floor it.

  We are zooming down this sidewalk, with confused and plastered frat boys scurrying to get out of our way as we careen along. A quick check in the rearview mirror reveals that the Cushman Cart is having trouble keeping up. (I’m sure the hamster in the engine wheel was getting tired.) Great. We just have to get back on the street at the end of the sidewalk and zip away into the night.

  What Thelma and Louise have failed to remember is that halfway down this long sidewalk, there is a significant drop in the sidewalk, with stairs leading down to the lower level. The remembrance of this fact comes far too late to stop the speeding vehicle.

  Within seconds, we are airborne, with both of us screaming.

  Then we slam to earth, sparks flying in all directions. I realize immediately that the frame on this vehicle will never be the same. Well, too late for Plan B. We get to the end of the sidewalk, bounce down the curb, and race away, headed back to the dorm.

  Once there, we pile out of the car and thunder inside, throwing the keys at a slightly confused Mike. He wants to know how it went. Great, we say. Best time ever. Then we run around a corner and hide, waiting to see what happens, peeking out every now and then.

  A few minutes later, the Cushman Cart rolls into the parking lot and stops behind Mike’s car.

  Mike walks to the front door, peers out, assesses the situation, then immediately stomps in our direction. We gulp and prepare for the worst, various alibis flitting through our minds.

  “What’s going on? Why is the Cushman Cart Man looking at my license plate?”

  We quickly launch into our defense. It was so cold. Oh my God it was so cold. And we were just trying to keep warm. And we were driving on the sidewalks to get closer to the buildings. That’s all we were doing. We didn’t mean any harm. Did we mention that it was cold? We could have died. And it was SO cold-”

  Mike holds up his hand. Stop. I’m fully aware that something else happened, because you both look like rabbits after electro-shock therapy, but we’ll focus on the cold, okay?

  We both nod our heads vigorously.

  “Now, I’m going to go talk to this man. But I’m going to talk to both of YOU, tomorrow. Now go away.”

  And he marches off to deal with Barney.

  My cohort and I look at each other.

  “We need alcohol.”

  “Indeed we do.”

  “Let’s go.”

  And we scamper out a side door, once again into the night, scurrying past some Theology undergrad who is already trying to erase one of our chalky slogans with her Greenpeace t-shirt…

Previously published, modest changes made. For the record, and this is probably meaningless drivel for those who didn’t follow said blog, I really miss those days on the “Memory Remix” site. It always put me in a special place, scribbling whatnots about a relatively carefree time, where everything was colored by the innocence of what we didn’t know…

41 replies »

  1. This post explains SO SO much about the man you are today…

    But my heart truly goes out to poor old Mike. I know just how he feels because I have a niece, to whom I lent my car. And thus, I too used to have a car. It was an extremely elderly Landrover, in my favorite shade of elderly-Landrover green, plus all the extras (leather seats, automatic from a time when it was probably the only automatic gearbox in Scotland, leather seats, automatic folding side-mirrors, new tires, and did I mention the really nice leather seats?) But somehow its former owner never bothered actually driving it, so even as it approached its 20th birthday, it still had less than 50K miles on it. The owner of a local garage had been trying to buy it from us before the pandemic, but we hadn’t agreed on a price. Then Covid came calling, we were stuck in Italy for a year, and the car was alone in Scotland.

    My niece was visiting in our absence, and we urged her to take the Rover out. She was there, of course, because pandemic restrictions were lifting, and our little island was opening again. Sadly, the ferry didn’t get that message, and—thanks to massive amounts of fiscal improprieties which led to almost a £-billion misspent, one tiny ancient car ferry replacing the two larger ones, only about 25% of passenger capacity, and 0% of politicians going to jail whilst 100% of those responsible were re-elected. But I’m not bitter—most of those who want to take the ferry because they’ve booked holiday homes, live there, or are seeking life-saving medical treatment on the mainland are SOL. The one exception? Bicycles. Our little island is a huge favorite with cyclists and somehow the ferry company didn’t think to limit their numbers. Result? The roads are packed, sometimes all the way across, with bikes.

    So my poor niece (remember the niece?) was venturing out in our beloved old car with the steering wheel on the wrong side and driving on the wrong side of the road, at least for someone who learned to drive in Los Angeles. She came around a narrow curve to find a bicycle and rider where she was expecting the Landrover to go. A quick swerve saved the tourist, but sent the Landrover into the ditch. As she reported to me, there was some unexpected bouncing and the car was stuck. She sent pix and it looked fine from all angles. But the tow truck driver told our insurance company that it was completely totalled. (Yes, the same person who had been trying to buy it from us. Hmmm…) Our insurance company (after thanking me for being a customer for 50-years—”half a century”, the rep helpfully supplied) agreed, and said they were sending us a check for LOADS more than we ever imagined the car being worth. I was too stunned by the half-century remark to protest.

    So now the Hub is happy we got so much for the old car, my niece is happy she didn’t kill a cyclist, and (I suspect) the garage owner is very very happy with our ‘totalled’ car. But I am NOT happy because now I have to listen to the Hub talk to me about a new car. About every POSSIBLE new car on the planet, and what their respective merits are, and which engine thingy is the best configuration, and why size and speed really do matter after all.

    Do you have Mike’s address? I’d like to send him a condolence letter…

    Liked by 5 people

    • Barb: Such a lovely saga about your niece and the shocking but questionable destruction of the Land Rover (did it have leather seats? I can’t recall). I really enjoyed the whimsical detail and, as you can imagine, my Norma-Rae heart swelled even more over your swipe at politicians. (“0% of politicians going to jail whilst 100% of those responsible were re-elected.” Brilliant.)

      But in the interest of diverting shame and reasonable-accounting of prior sins, Mike’s car was not a loss, far from it. He didn’t notice a thing about the vehicle performance for quite some time. (Both partner-in-crime and I were eventually able to relax and move on to further mischief.) I left the university at the end of that academic year, moved to Dallas for a year to “find myself”, which was a total wash, moved back to Tulsa, reconnected with Mike, who had also left the university by then, and he was still driving the same car. During one of the festive dinner parties he used to host, he did make an offhand remark that said vehicle had an annoying tendency to drift into other lanes at inappropriate moments. But he didn’t look at me whilst sharing this, so I quietly kept imbibing the foo-foo cocktail he had prepared based on an article he had read in a recent GQ magazine.

      Eventually, we drifted apart again. I don’t think he ever made the connection between the car-drifting and the night of the Cushman-Cart Inquisition. I don’t know what eventually happened to that car, but I’m sure that wherever it is it still smells like Fraternity Row….

      Angie: My inquisitive mind is somewhat curious about certain car-related events at Casa Cuckoo that may not have been previously shared. Pray tell…

      obbverse: I see you’re taking Barb’s side in this sharing experience, what with the outpouring of sympathy for Mike’s twisted automobile. It’s not like the battered thing couldn’t drive anymore. But there may have been a few long-term hiccups… 😉

      haoyando: We had our own little island of cyclists here in Dallas at one point, when that “rent a bike” craze was going strong. Everywhere you went, there were piles of discarded bicycles blocking the sidewalks on every street. It was ridiculous. Eventually, the City Council had to step in and say to the riders (and the bike-rental companies): “If you can’t be more responsible, we’re going to ban this mess.” And they eventually did. Now we’ve got those motorized skateboards-with-a-handle everywhere, causing the same problem…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. M y first car was a mini-an old rebuilt mini with a gearshift that regularly came out of the floor. And you know I am Canadian. So double points for you on this. Still laughing. You should write movie scripts. Comedies of course.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, the gearshift coming out of the floor. I was once the shamed driver of a decrepit and horrible Camaro that chilled my soul. The brake and gas pedals were missing, just spokes coming out of the floorboard (and said floorboard was riddled with holes, so you could see the pavement below you). The gas gauge didn’t work, so you had to guesstimate. The speedometer had a mind of its own, often indicating that I was driving 90mph when I was barely moving.

      How I survived that mess, I don’t know. But somehow I did.

      Thanks for the encouragement to write movie scripts. I have actually done so, decades ago. But looking at them now? I was safer driving that damn Camaro…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In the Winter of 84-85, I was still in high school…I grat-chee-ated in 86, but I have a car on campus story too.

    My little car, a 1970 Datsun 510 (remember Datsun?), also red, was driven by me onto our “Senior Quad” (the area in front of the Media Center” aka the library) in the Winter of 85-86. I was authorized to do this, since it was “Senior Spirit Week” and the ASB Crew thought it would be fun to see how many people could fit into a tiny car. My car was requested, I obliged. I just wanted to drive on campus.

    I did NOT participate in the sardine-fest, and I don’t remember the actual number, but my car smelled of Polo cologne, Georgio perfume, and sexual frustration for many weeks after.

    Fun times🙄

    I often felt like I missed out on something by not going to college. I went from graduation to self-financed week in Waikiki, to moving into my first apartment, to join Corporate America in the Fall of 1986.
    I’ve since realized that all I missed out on was Student Loan Debt. The shenanigans were occurring without classes, homework or any of the other restrictive things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I remember Datsun. At one point in my wretchedly-poor days first living on my own, I drove my mother’s Datsun, as it was my only option at the time. It was one of those fancy speed-racer versions, but I don’t remember the exact model. (Something with a “Z”? Maybe 280Z? Don’t know.) That thing had power. If you barely breathed on the gas pedal, you would instantly be zooming along at 75 on a residential street. It scared me a little bit.

      Downside of that car? The headlights didn’t always cooperate when you wanted them to do so. I once drove to work at 4am in the morning with no idea what was in front of me. I took as many backroads as I could, but still, not fun. (There’s an ancient post somewhere in the archives, might have to dig that out.) The oil gauge was broken, so I never knew when I needed to add nectar to the engine. So I kept adding oil whenever the thought would cross my mind, which eventually led to some malfunctions, what with 700 quarts of oil suffocating critical performance components. Oh, and there were times when I could not get the car to go in reverse. At all. So I would have to park in places where I could pull out instead of back out.

      It’s no wonder that I’m on medication to this very day…

      College was a glorious time for me. I was in my element, finally surrounded by people who WANTED to learn, the creativity was everywhere since it was a private liberal arts college, and I had a string of professors who constantly encouraged my writing. But there was one huge obstacle to my happiness. I was gay in an extremely homophobic state, and the pressure to hide myself was overwhelming, even at a liberal arts college. I dropped out after two years, fleeing to Dallas, where there was more acceptance but a new list of issues. I deeply regret dropping out, for many reasons, but mostly because I was on a shining path that instantly fizzled, and it took me years to find some semblance of peace and validation.

      Wow. I did NOT mean to go where this went. (And I really did intend to discuss the Car-Stuffing on the Quad.) On the flip side, this is what I love about some of the fine folks at Bonnywood, certainly including you. They/you inspire me to ponder and reflect and strive to do better. Perhaps you are now my college professors, pushing me to go that extra bit with my words in the hope that I get it right this time…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I went to college in the late 70s, and this brings back so many great memories of the stupid things we used to do. Fast forward 40 years, and I now teach at a college. And we still call them RAs…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, that list of prior-felony stupid things is mind-boggling. Most of those things, of course, were due to that time-honored belief that we were “bullet-proof” at the time. But some of the things? No justification whatsoever. We simply didn’t have a clue.

      Truth be told, I would love to be teaching at a college right now. But choices were made and certain things dissipated and here we are…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I clearly missed out on a lot. Elsewhere this week someone posted something about college (too). Yours was funnier of course. I waxed prolific about that other post and included the fact that my parents couldn’t scrape together the fees required to send me to college. I would have gone (if I’d gone) in 1980. My school of choice was the University of Utah, which is considered the ‘heretic’ school because (in those days and now too I’m sure), there was *gasp* DRINKING (alcohol), casual sex (it was 1980), and all sorts of things going on that are contrary to the unspoken laws about living in Utah. Amendment: WERE the unspoken laws .. it’s now 2021 and apparently, Salt Lake City (where the U of U is located) has undergone a massive and radical change of heart. BYU (the Lord’s School) is located in Provo. I would have enjoyed such hijinks and frolics as you outlined very much indeed, but like Angie, I joined “Corporate America” (aka Slavers R Us) and it was only in 1997 that I went back to ‘school’ (a trade school for graphic designers). I was 40. Besides the fact that it was a trade school, only kept 9-5 hours all week, had no dorms nor PAs or RAs or any of that, even if there had been alcohol-fueled parties by my classmates, I doubt I’d have been welcome to join in. Because I was ‘old’. Yeah. I learned loads, but I think I missed out on an important part of the whole college experience. Those mistakes taught more I bet than ten years of actual book learning. You can look back and laugh, and share a funny tale about your days at college. Some of us only got the paper, which turned out to be as worthless as the high school paper was. Do I sound a trifle bitter? Maybe. Hope I didn’t harsh the buzz generated by a wonderful post!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, you didn’t harsh the buzz, not at all. If there was any harshing, it was on my part. In my (abbreviated) college years, I was on the fast track to happy horizons. I was doing all the right things and excelling in all the right areas and I was already being vetted by movers and shakers in the communications industry. But I threw it all away after two years, because I couldn’t take the pressure of hiding my true self for one second more. I fled, a possibly weak move at an entirely wrong time, especially knowing as I did that SO many folks had never been given the chances that fell into my lap. (Well, not exactly “fell”. I worked hard to earn the scholarships that I was awarded, but still.)

      There is a tiny bit of blame, at least in my opinion, to be placed on my parents. They did their best to ensure that I went to college locally, when my gay ass would have thrived more satisfyingly in a more progressive state of the union. I relented to their pestering. But really, the drop-out decision was all mine. I threw everything away, and THEN I ran far way, which is what I should have done in the first place. But we don’t always know what we should have known…


      • One of my siblings did that running far, far away thing. He finished college in California, where he spent most of his adult life. I’ve always privately thought he was a big coward, but the circumstances between your reasons for doing that running thing and his are vastly different too. You had valid reasons for wanting to do it, and good for you! My brother was just trying to keep his distance from my parents because he didn’t want to deal with my mother. Maybe he had a point. I think he missed out on some really great times, along with the bad. I sometimes wish I’d had the guts to run far away too. Maybe I’m the coward. We all make decisions that might come back to plague us in the dead of night when our defenses are low. Obviously, your life turned out very well and you ought not have regrets about your choices. They were good ones.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This image of you racing down the stairs of a campus sidewalk, chased by “a little golf-cart-looking contraptions” is exhilarating. Are you also carrying the chalks–what color are they? And what is exactly invented by “a Nazi scientist named Horst”. I am curious. Hmmmm. Mike gets compensated by the insurance company, sold his parking privilege to somebody else, and starts to ride bikes to lose weight.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As for the chalk, I believe (it’s been decades) we were using greens and blues. According to the psychology courses we were forced to take per the curriculum, greens and blues work well with the cold hues of otherwise boring sidewalk concrete.

      As for Horst the Nazi, I just threw that in for fun. I didn’t personally know Horst, but since he was a Nazi, he probably wasn’t all that invested in doing the right thing for humanity.

      I would imagine that Mike was eventually compensated by his insurance company, but since said company never took a deposition from me, I really don’t know. But I do know that Mike would NEVER have given up his parking spot. He was THAT kind of guy… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL. Mike is so much like a New Yorker. A parking spot is more important than anything else. Every year, one hears stories of fighting, shooting, bullying, racketeering just for a humble parking space. Some even lose their life for it–and this is not a fiction.

        When I was young, we had blackboard and chalks in the classroom. The colored chalks were always stolen after the classes and only white chalks survived the thievery. I love chalks, but haven’t seen them for decades now. Don’t know that they are considered health hazard. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hahaha. Great post! 😀 I was reading your piece while on my lunch break, and someone came to check on me because I was chortling, and he thought I was choking … CPR at the ready. Great. Now I sound like I’m choking when I’m laughing. Yikes. Could be bad if I really start choking, but I’d really rather not find out what that sounds like.
    Now about this supposed cold. Where were the husky dogs and sleds? The fur mitts, quilted full-length parkas, the mukluks? Cart guy chasing a dog sled team? Wouldn’t he have been surprised? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • I used to think that I had a festive laugh, or at least one that was pleasing. But lately, I get the impression that I sound like a dog who is confused where his rubber gone might be. It’s not pretty, and the sound will most likely not be used in my favor when the family is considering my placement in a retirement home…

      Yes, I fully deserve the quilted husky sled-mitts comparison. I knew I was risking things including that bit, but it came from my temperate-zone heart, and isn’t that what we want? Cue lovely music on the soundtrack, with no confused barking… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh the college memories… thoughts of the early and mid 80s and great Pat Benatar songs that we never hear any more and Security Bob motoring around on his Cushman Cart. And the Physical Plant that not only cleared ice and snow off the sidewalks but also six inches each side of the sidewalks, so when spring came we had a lovely stripe of mud alongside each and every sidewalk. Halfway through my four years, they changed the job title from Staff Assistant to Resident Assistant. And I remember our new RA introducing himself and explaining the change in title, that he was no longer Staff Ass but was now Resident Ass. J.

    Liked by 2 people

    • First, we need more Pat Benatar, although I must admit I actually like her later blues and torch-song forays even more…

      Second, we also had the lovely mud stripes. Along with salt. They salted every available surface within seconds of the first ice crystal falling. So much so that my hazy shade of winter involves the sound of crunching feet…

      Third, the very person who was in the car with me on this night also worked the mailroom in our dorm. She took great pleasure in coming across anything addressed to Brian Lageose, Resident Asst and scribbling out that final “t”. She was a hoot…

      Liked by 1 person

    • This sounds like an excellent plan, making full use of the story-telling options. In fact, if your audience is especially appreciative of creativity, you could be the car. Or maybe even one of the ill-fated balloons… 😉


    • To this day, I can still feel the unexpected lift-off, followed by the possibly-life-changing, metal-scraping return to Earth. And we were both scream-laughing during our short flight path, making things even more memorable…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “Where everything was colored by the innocence of what we didn’t know.” Love that…actually lived the whole post. I sure would have loved to experience college life…but I would have been one of those sticks in the mud…playing by all the rules. How dull!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Something tells me you wouldn’t have exactly been a stick, but I would imagine one of your catch-phrases would be “should we really be doing this right now?” And my answer would be “I really don’t think anyone is going to die, so yes, let’s do it”. And then we would almost die, but not quite… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL. I was pretty straight laced then…and still am. When your own children yell and say, “you’re the only person in the world who’s never had a drink…or smoked pot…or skipped school…yada, yada, yada.
        I have since had a drink. It was okay, but I prefer water.
        I often wonder what I could have done and been…had things been different at home and had I been able to go to college. As it is…I feel like I squandered my youth…and that is one of the worst extravagances. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but when I come back the next time…I’m going to be a hell-raiser!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a fabulous story, and it’s made better by the fact that it was so cold. (I even pulled on a sweater halfway through reading it, no joke, because your descriptions are so vivid…plus I’m having ice cream, but I digress.)

    I love, LOVE the part where you fly through the air in the car and land in a flourish of sparks. A moment worthy of a movie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It DID feel like we were in a movie during the lift-off, albeit an angsty 70s film wherein both of us did not live to see the end credits. I try not to have regrets (what good do we really get out of having such?) but I really miss the younger me that was just a little bit wild and fearless. We had so many amazing adventures and every day was a feast…

      Liked by 1 person

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