I've been at the beach all week. You can't beat the Texas beaches. First in sunshine, first in waves (more per minute than Cali or Hawaii, which is good for surfing), first in smelly brown sargassum. The seaweed crop this year is coming in beautifully. You have to wade through the stuff knee-deep to get to the water. But we overlook such things when you can rent a sprawling hotel suite with kitchen and two TVs with HBO a mere block from the water for about a C-note a night. Oh, and the breakfast buffet featured cinnamon rolls so good that people were stuffing their pockets with them. "Falata rolls," as old ladies say. As in, a little nosh for lata on.
Driving back yesterday, I took a detour to my alma mater in San Antonio, picked up a college friend who now teaches there and we lunched in a trendy dive near campus. To get there we drove under the "new" freeway that they were building when I was a student. Every morning, KABOOM! at 7 a.m. as the dynamiting started, clearing the limestone layers to create the 181. All day long, BOOM! BOOM! You could feel the shockwaves. And you could hear the screams of the frightened orangutan in the zoo just down the hill.
You think students are edgy now -- try a year or two of all-day close-range dynamite. We were like rats in a shock-maze. Though thinking back, that was my thinnest year of college. Who could eat when every 20 minutes it was "Fire in the hole!"
So over burgers and iced teas, Old Friend and I did the speed-convo to catch up. He loves his teaching post but lacks the Ph.D. that would get him a shot at full-time. He's also an arts consultant to state arts commissions, and he writes and directs, so like most of us adjuncts, he makes a living to support his teaching habit.
We rehashed where-are-they-nows and remembered some gems from the theater department's fave acting teacher, the exotic Mary Ann, the woman we all wanted to be (even the boys).
(Digression: I'm writing this at Starbucks, where a young homeless guy just walked by outside. He looks exactly like Ryan Seacrest and he seems very, very sad. He's leaning on the wall as he walks, like he's about to fall down. If he comes back by, I'm giving him money... oh, wait, here he comes and he's talking on a cellphone. So he's probably not homeless, just sorely in need of a scrubbing. Maybe he's just really hungover. He drinks because people keep laughing at him and yelling "Seacrest out!")
Back at my old campus, I drove past my old dorms and saw the new tennis courts and the new student union (they had a new one when I was a freshperson, which means they tear them down and build a spanking new one every two decades). They've moved the fountain and there are new sculptures by the new library that look like anorexic "Moai" from Easter Island.
I saw the auditorium where I walked the stage for graduation. Handing out diplomas that night at the end of the Paleozoic Era was one George H.W. Bush, then chief at the CIA and unknown to any of us. He made some minor remarks at the ceremony and then, wearing half-glasses, his hair Brylcreemed back from his forehead, he doled out the sheepskins. As I got back to my seat, tassel shifted, the grad next to me pointed back toward the stage at Bush and whispered in my ear, "Whoever that guy is, I think he's drunk."