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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back to My Future: The Life and Times at Purdue University

Chapter 1: The Song and the Women Remain the Same
I might be the first guy ever to attend Purdue as a student in four different decades. I took a course at sixteen in Basic programming in 1988. Then, the campus held about 25,000 students, mostly dudes here for engineering a better mouse trap or the optimal keg flow mechanism for Fridays, Saturdays, and for final exams. I can remember my first roommate, Alfredo Portales, a pre-engineering student from Texas. We became fast friends, hung out a lot, played euchre, and tentatively hit on the 17 year-old girls that were nerdy enough (then) to attend a Purdue summer camp not specifically designed for cheerleaders as that was what we (or I) noticed everyday going by the Co-Rec to our 'basic' class.

Decade Two. After high school mercifully came to a close, I came back to the only place I felt at home in Indiana. I traveled back to Purdue painfully virginal, and with a crush still on a high school cheerleader, who I do not blame for not giving me the time of day, or millennium. She, even then, deserved a better engineering egghead. As rejection brought out the worst in me, college women (loosely 18 -22 years of age) did not bring about better at-bats. A tired baseball analogy: if you can’t hit the slider in the minors, then major league pitchers will throw you a steady diet of the same. Can you say, “caught looking,” yep, I thought you could, as my ass caught more splinters than Pinhead has acupuncture marks. I was ‘riding pine’ all right.

You probably get the feeling this is all there is to talk about: women. There were things called lectures I failed to attend on a better than 50% rate. I found drinking was right up the alley of a Scots-Irish-Cherokee family tree of lushes led by lead lush Sam Houston of Texas fame. The Co-Rec was a place to take on the best b-ballers, even a few name Robinson, Miller, Martin, Waddell, Painter, or Ms. Basketball Jennifer Jacoby, or ‘JJ’, when I played her frequently in the summer, or took her buzzed, two-in-the-morn order at Taco Bell for a spell. The ‘Brick Dick’ fell while I attended in the 1990s, as the ‘Clock Tower’ came to be an alternative way to find your way home while drunk – and suddenly too dumb to walk back to some shitty apartment, or jail cell-sized dorm room with a homemade loft made in a weekend move-in on a sticky August night. And a roommate with a nagging, big-boobed existentialist girlfriend, or just a bad case of beating himself blind. Yep, those are good times.

Decade Three. I took a class in 2000 in Indianapolis on Constitutional Law at IUPUI. “Ooh-wee-Poo-wee,” sounds like a babies’ sound upon letting you know they made caca or pooed themselves. This time I didn’t crap the course, getting the highest grade in the class, and a recommendation to attend law school. (From a lawyer!!! So you know that counts – ha!) I sat for the LSAT – got a 157 which sounds good until it is known it is out of 180, and you get 120 for signing your name. A woman would again trip me up (Bill Clinton syndrome, without any of the successful West Wing wet cigars) – same name as the cheerleader a decade before! – but then again, an entirely different scenario of life and loveless loquaciousness. I was still a rebel without a Rough Rider…and a head seriously clouded with alcohol, daddy issues, and all the crap I didn’t ooze out accordingly while still closer to diapers than adulthood.

Decade four. By now, you’d think going back to school was beyond the scope of this life’s course. Prerequisites and post-grads taken, interviews and epic fails done, and launchings and leavings a worn out path. In point of fact, this is the only time I am in it for the education. I actually read more economics now than industrial engineering ever. Now, I left once again for college with an unrequited love in the rear view. Different name (well…their middle names all happen to be Marie) and a penchant for ie(s) at the end of their first, like Industrial Engineering, IE. This time I make no declaration of love, or interest – she too happened to be a college cheerleader, is an elementary education teacher, and now, has had two DUIs, and is not even 25, yet. You might say why are you even interested? Or what did you do really different? What are you looking at, or for?

I am interested because when she isn’t trading in guys like a day trader on the NASDAQ, or doing three jobs (bar wench, teacher, cheer coaching) and drinking to boot, she is actually a really sharp egg. She is ‘damaged’ (flawed as we all are) – her brother told me she got pregnant a few years back, aborted the fetus (argue to yourself), and got a tattoo on her spine ‘TRUST’ – but all in a really psychologically, understandable way. (Ok...)

I can relate – but she puts up a WWI Western front I have yet to maneuver around. Plus, I am closer to 40 than she is 30, and financial security and coolness is likely her sort criterion for all men. Spend money on her, impress her flaky, fake-in-more-ways-than-one gal pals, and things happen, I suppose. But nothing that lasts. Thus, this soon-to-be college-poor guy that isn’t pulling down six figures will not get into that ballpark. I just get a ticket to watch BP, and see some flaws in the swings. (All those minor league cuts…now help.)

While I can write about my reality, talking is not so easy – when you actually are unable to cut through your crap and her crap, in unison. And “people always assume,” or presume you have no understanding of how you got from “there to here.” Even I presume with her...and for that, a hypocrite.

Doing different was easy: I just did not tell her I cared directly, nor did I make any overt play. She knows full well - but I stopped short. With the line of metro-sexual, quasi-biker troubadours playing a (VD) beat to her bedroom or bar door, I’d never get in that line anyways. I felt like the only thing I could do was give her a drinking lecture (yes, I do see the inside of bars – self-control and self-knowledge corrects that Kryptonic issue), but how would that help? She ain’t gonna listen – can’t name an alcoholic, or a woman, that has listen to any advice given by me in all of my years, sober or not. And goes backward to, “people always assume…”

So while I do actually have consideration (and attraction) for her, once again, I am not the man she desires presently, nor am I in the position to become that while she either: wrecks forward; or straightens out for someone much better than I. (The latter I hope does happen.) Instead, I just wished her good luck. She is indeed out of my league....

Decade Four and Beyond. The answer is two. Move on to my objective – create a ‘good bank’ of grades for admission to further education – and – creatively express myself in the mode you see here. There is no real point in pursuit of the ‘P word.’ Success has never followed; and I just get older, barely wiser, and generally poorer, due to inflation.

I have a ton of goals down to get at – and the female companionship was listed on that bucket list. But like all lists, you work on that which provides a window of opportunity quickest first. Short to long-term in sorting out a life – the day by day work put in. A 1,000 words a day, if possible. A friend a day, if God willing.

Looking at the future, I am trying for the idea of knowledge of a lot of things so I can always write about something. Maybe, make a lasting legacy. At least attempt that course. Like a hero, Ben Franklin, he did not get stuck on what he was doing for too long. He had probably 30 different titles and jobs in his life. And did about five or six, really, really well.

So while the song of women remained the same, this juke box hero needs a new joint to pump out to the clubs. 

Stephen Speaks: Out of My League.

Or: Jump Jump Dance Dance – 2.0.

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