A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Monday, August 18, 2003 :::
I am spending yet another two weeks going through the archives of my late uncle, the novelist Allen Drury. It is a thrill, and of course, it makes me sad, thinking about him. What a great mind, what a good friend, what a wonderful uncle. He has been gone almost exactly 5 years. He died on his birthday, September 2, about ten minutes after he turned 80.

It brings me back to my old haunts, Stanford University, and that alone inspires enough thoughts. Herewith, a few more reflections to add to those from the start of June.

Ants are quite persistent little creatures. I am staying on the third floor of a beautiful new dorm, and there seem to be three or four ants on each windowsill. Apparently, they are scouts, sniffing the air or whatever for possibilities. But we are three floors up. That's a long way to go just on the hunch that there might be food. And I complain because I have to walk about a mile to the food service. I hate to disappoint them, but it has been my policy for a very long time never to eat in my bedroom. They will just have to wait for the undergraduates to return.

I have gotten a meal plan every time I come up here, because I am usually too tired from the research I am doing to cook. Plus, it is fun to eat with the college students every once in a while. And it is good to be reminded that there are indeed things worse than my own cooking.

The food is just as bad as you remember it. The main problem is that they have to offer so much variety, because college is exactly the time when people try the oddest diets. By choice, I mean.

Then some just have odd diets based on impulse. There is one quiet, studious looking kid who apparently only eats out of bowls. He goes over the cereal bin, picks up 6 bowls, then wanders around choosing things. He may be vegetarian, but he seemed to grab a regular entree the other day. I haven't been policing him, just eating next to him. He likes yogurt and starch, we've figured that out. But he only gets three items. He fills two bowls with each item. He is quite strong looking, and he has not, so far, had two bowls of pudding, so I guess it is working. But still, this is an "only when you are in college" kind of diet.

Or just out of college. A semi-pro soccer player rents rooms from me, and he often fixes two whole pans of pasta for one meal.

The very nice food service office lady told me that I was the only person who ever actively sought to eat in the dorms, which is probably true. I am living in a dorm that is given over mainly to scholars here for the summer, and most of them eat out of the little kitchenette. Conferences have their meals arranged for them in another dorm. So I guess there is just me. I forgot to check which dorms are available for non-conference food service, and the students who checked me in did not have a clue. They work for conference services, you see, not dining services. Oh.

The young lady who checked me in was amused that I remembered that these dorms used to be trailers. Her mom had lived there. Her brilliant suggestion was that I just go "try the dining halls." You mean, I said, that I should just go from dorm to dorm? (You have to understand just how big good old SU is.) Well, she said in a slightly exasperated voice, you could start with Manzanita (my dorm) as they have their own dining hall. A light bulb went on, she was amused.

So the next morning, I went into the dining hall. There was just one group of students. One very large blonde kid kind of gave me a funny look when I went in, but the rest just ignored me. I went into the cafeteria line. Everything was all marked up with signs about paying, but there was no one taking cards. So I just started taking things, figuring the checker would see me and come out, as this was right at the start of service. Just then, three guys came in, and very politely tell me to go first for the scrambled eggs. I notice that they, like the other boys already eating, were very large. Something does not seem quite right, and as I begin to dig in, a very tall middlge-aged guy comes in. Why do all coaches look the same? His presence confirmed my slowly formed conclusion that I was at the training table of our nationally ranked football team. The coach gave me an odd look but said a cheery good morning and went over to talk to the youthful behemoths. I finished quickly, and left, the coach eyes following me with that same look. They're overfunded, I am sure; it won't hurt the budget. But I may send them 5 bucks out of guilt.

I will probably be unable to watch the famed Stanford water polo team practice this time, which is a pity. I love water polo. But seeing them two years ago, and being in the dorm next to the football players, reminded me of why I left college convinced I was small. Stanford is Div 1-A, and competitive--as in gunning for the national title--in up to ten sports every year. Then there all the students who may have played with our athletes in high school but didn't make it onto one of our teams. They fill out the intramural teams. It took me years to realize I was on the tall side of average, at just under 6 feet. Back here, I feel very small again. Except around the waist. They are noticeably smaller around the waist, except for the linesmen.

The campus is now nearly perfect. They have done such a magnificent job. The front of the university has a big round drive known as the Oval. It used to be filled with dirt. Now it is nicely landscaped. I was sitting there one evening, waiting for Mass to start, just soaking in the beauty. And then I remembered that Stanford is the first place inthe world to brag about trying to mass produce human beings to use them for spare parts. My father liberated a valley in Germany where Hitler was trying to do the same thing, the old fashioned way, with strong healthy young Aryans enjoying each other's company on a scientifically calculated basis. Bad idea then; bad idea now.

Speaking of bad ideas, I do not know if you have been following the increasingly horrifying scandal at Baylor. The Washington Post has a lengthy article on it on their webpage. An assistant coach taped the (now ex) head coach telling coaches and players to say that their murdered player was dealing drug. The head coach did not want anyone finding out that he had been paying the student, so he wanted people to lie. No one knows anything about these guys dealing drugs, but it did turn out that they were acting like gangstaz, all tough and argumentative, until one of them apparently killed another. Who says music does not have influence, or that that influence cannot sometimes be awful?

Well, on that note, I must prepare for another day of sorting. Wish me luck.

For those of you who are interested in such things, I have put up a new post on the Fullness of Him, at the upper right.

Have a good one.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 2:35 AM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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