So here we are back on the college campus, one of the greatest places you can ever be — a center of serious thought and discussion.
By the way, on a college campus, all communication now takes place by cellphone, primarily text messages. If Romeo and Juliet were attending college today, they'd be hanging out in their respective Starbucks, texting:
"Where r't thou, dude?" Juliet would say with her thumbs.
"Juz hangin'. U?" Romeo would respond, and then they'd try to hook up.
Some people may see this as the death of romance, but I'm young enough to appreciate the magic. Such exchanges have a certain poetry to them.
"Where r't thou, Poshy?" I'm always texting the wife.
"Grow up," she responds, as if that would ever happen.
Anyway, our little girl survived the freshman stalag and now lives in a nice big sorority house with 100 other girls. In her mind, she was always deserving of a mansion. Life is good now, among the other human sunflowers of college life.
Me, I'm drawn to the simpler, less expensive pleasures of Midwestern life — steamy diner windows, or pumpkins on porches.
Mostly, only good things happen in such a place, but the crushing vagaries of real life can slip through. For instance, we are on campus only an hour when I discover our rental car had been confiscated.
Confiscated, stolen, towed — same thing. When you come back to the spot you parked your car and it is missing, something deep within you dies. Wait, no, that's just a little piece of Kettle Corn. Or my prostate.
"Where's the car? Where's the car?" asks my wife, who prefers riding to walking. (At the mall, I usually carry her atop my shoulders.)
"Um, beats me," I say.
Fortunately, it was in our wedding vows that I would attempt to be heroic in stressful situations. It was a little codicil Posh requested at the very last minute.
I begin by standing in the middle of the parking lot and twirling around in circles, hoping that maybe the car is playing a joke on me.
When that fails to produce a satisfying result, I ask a nearby campus security officer. He insists that campus security does not enforce parking in the private lot behind the sorority house.
"Who does?" I ask.
No one seems to know.
If you have ever tried to park at a major university, you know that it is next to impossible. The usual ratio is one visitor's parking space per 30,000 students, though some colleges have even less.
Did I mention that all our luggage is in the rental car that was just towed? This adds a certain intensity to our search. Contrary to what our friends think, we change clothes nearly every day.
Next thing I know, I am in some office that coordinates the towing of cars from sorority houses.
It goes very well here.
You know that O-shaped thing aquarium fish do with their mouths over and over in an effort to speak? That's me in this rental office. Call it fish-syncing.
"Dad, where's our car?" the little guy says, tugging at my shirt.
"Ooooooo," I say.
The gentlemen in the rental office refer us to a tow yard on the outskirts of this modest college town, which in this case looks very much like the inskirts of town. It's one of those places where the outskirts and inskirts are very similar.
"Go south on 11th Street?" the clerk tells us over the phone when we get lost on the way to the tow yard.
"Look, I'm visiting," I say. "I don't know south from ..."
"OK, north," she says.
Eventually, we find the towing place, and for the very reasonable sum of $150 (cash only), they give us back our nice rental car.
You should've seen Posh and me combining assets. I've got $78.50, she's got $58.33 and — no wait, there's another fiver and ..."Hey, do you take Euros? What about Kettle Corn?"
Turns out they do.
So that's how we got fleeced back in Indiana. Big cities like this always make me a little nervous.
The rest of the trip goes very well, by the way. A dog bit me, sure, but that could happen almost anywhere. In this case, it was on my butt.
What happened is that I was walking along, admiring all the dying trees, when I stopped to pet a dog someone was walking. As I turned to go, he snapped me on the fanny — the dog, not the owner, though he looked to be the kind who could.
Even so, I still like dogs more than people. A dog would never tow your car, for instance. Usually, they're happy just to chase them.