Earlier this week, I had the privilege of traveling with rising juniors and seniors to several college campuses as a part of a program supporting families whose first generation will go to college. It was an enormous undertaking for the administrators in charge, and I was pleased to go along for the ride. (Read about my interview for this job here.) We took 60 kids, 11 adults, and 2 tour buses, and we visited 3 schools, staying overnight in the dorms of a real university. I packed shower shoes, of course.
It was a fantastic trip. As I finished packing the night before, my husband put me in the college spirit by playing the soundtrack of our college years (listed in reverse alphabetical order): Warren G and Nate Dogg, UB40, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Salt-N-Pepa, Pearl Jam, Boyz II Men, Beck, Ace of Base … all the early 90s music that transports me back to those glorious, carefree days a generation ago.
I zipped up my 25-year-old floral Laura Ashley duffle, stuffed with four days worth of clothes, towels, sheets, and my Hoos blanket. I was ready.
I’m not going to try to summarize the trip, because I couldn’t do it justice. Suffice it to say that we all learned, grew, and changed, and I’m enormously thankful to have been a part of such a powerful experience for these students.
We did have our Griswold situations, however. Like when the power went out in the campus library right before our college essay work session. Or when one school tour took two hours (100% longer than anticipated) and was immediately followed by a financial aid information session in which the speaker consistently referred to FAFSA as “fassfa” and many of our kids nodded off to sleep. My favorite choice moments of the trip involved eating in the cafeteria, however.
I’m gonna lay it out there: the food was as disappointing as it was back when I was in school. This was a different college, and many years later, but I guess some things are universal. Anyway, I ended up subsisting on salad and dessert, for the most part. The second night on campus, following the aforementioned info session, I decided to try my hand at the soft serve machine. (Back in the day, I made perfect spirals with curlicue tips due to my substantial ice cream / frozen yogurt shop experience.)
“Tsk, tsk! You sure you wanna do that?”
I turned around to see a tall, dark, and in no way handsome man smiling at me, displaying his seven or eight teeth.
“Oh, I love soft ice cream. Why? Is it not good?” I inquired.
“Naw it’s good, but what will your HUHHHHZband say?” he chuckled and winked disconcertingly.
What?!? Wait. What is happening? Did that guy just insult my size? And why is my husband involved here? Did I time travel or something? Permission for dessert? My head is exploding…
I looked at him sideways, and as I proceeded to dispense the ice cream, he continued to describe a detailed vignette he had imagined:
“He gon’ be all, ‘you promised me you wouldn’t eat snacks and junk!’ So are you sure you really want that?…” I walked away.
I returned to my seat, shared the story with other staff members on the trip, and we’ve all been laughing ever since. Because no way that happened.
Also, I decided to keep a mental log of my food choices to share with my husband. Surprisingly, he had very little interest in what I ate on the trip.