"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Booth love story continues

The story so far--two professors of journalism, and friends--The Illidge and The Clark--began many years ago gathering at a small booth in the back of a bar-restaurant to wash away the wailing of students. There they have been joined by other colleagues--The German Complainer, the PR Princess, Friar John the Monk-- seeking similar solutions, and the Queen bee of the department nest does not protest. The preceding Interlude was necessary to allow the scribe to reconnoiter research over the weekend.

Our story continues...

Chapter 4

As weeks passed, and the semester’s stresses surmounted sanity, the colleagues found more and more occasion to seek sustenance and succor at the secluded center of the pub, away from students and syllabi and stupidity. Soon, it was enough to just ask, “The Booth?” and everyone understood. And the word spread, with invitations to other professors and people purloined with the pollution of professionalism. Then in the course of events, the group was joined by The Boar Hunter, The Captain of the USS Pun, Zman the Worrier, The Afghan Traveler, and The Brunette Brett. Yea, even the tee-totaling Queen bee occasionally deigned to descend to the depths and dignify the denizens with her demeanor.

Soon it was also, that other purgatorial souls from the Harvard of the Plains, near the soon-to-be extinct Dairy Queen, north of Second and south of the water tower, discovered the delights of delving into the devilment of the journalism junkies. Professors from music, history, political science, even assistant deans could not ignore the raucous ramblings of those gathered under the dim yellow light of The Booth. They’d stop, while passing by to their furtive meetings to have an evening refreshment, and shake their heads and smile and gaze in admiration at the gregarious groupies having a good time, contrary to all rules and stipulations of the rigor mortis of higher education. They even sometimes joined in the banter. The Booth became the neighborhood bar and a legend in their minds.

There they would gather to be regaled by the wit, wisdom and wonderment of The Illidge telling tales of yesteryear. If the day had been long and frustrating, if the administrative edicts had been more unfair than usual, then The Illidge would smile, and exclaim, “Ah, the vagaries and vicissitudes of life.” And yeah, verily, all could laugh.

There they learned much they soon would remember forever. How the Illidge met his “Sweet pea,” in grade school, how he earned his “BJ” degree from the world’s first and best journalism school at Missouri, how Missouri would perennially lose to “some girl’s school,” how Notre Dame University was ordained, how he “saved us from the Commies” in Korea, how writing copy for Western Auto, or how too many martinis for lunch at an ad agency was deadly, how Kansas City was a “fine town,” how he loved to watch the Chiefs play, how he regretted working too hard and missing some of his children’s events when they were growing up, how he cared for each person in The Booth without judgment, and with humor gracing every minute. Yeah, if the former is a sentence fragment, The Illidge would point it out to the chagrin of The Clark, a repentant English teacher. Because yeah, his classical education included courses in Latin; he could and would quote Shakespeare extensively, or bring to mind an Ogden Nash poem (“If a panther calls, don’t anther”) with a smile and a twinkle of Irish eyes.

Such was the joy of the Booth, watered with beer, vodka, Irish whiskey, Scotch, and other holy spirits. Yet, in the words of The Clark—“If it weren’t for Kansas, we wouldn’t appreciate Colorado,” all joys are made possible with sorrows…

To be continued…

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