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Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Booth" is a verb, a story and reverie

"We need to booth," said a colleague the other day, and we knew what she meant. End of semester. Time to get together for a little adult beverage and toasts and stories and jokes and release from  higher education's tensions, rules and nonsense.
But "Booth" has a long history for us in our department, I'd guess about 14 years. I've told this story before on this blog, but realized it has been a decade since my friend Bob Illidge retired, and nine years since he died, most of us attending his funeral in Wichita, Kansas.
After all these years, at this week's booth, here was the first toast: "To Bob." Such is the power of a friendship and a gathering.
So, in his honor, here is the first of about 16 chapters in the story of "The Booth," first written in 2009. I'll post one each day.

From Aug. 9, 2009

"Booth is a verb...a love story, prologue"

"Once upon a time long ago in a university department, two friends needed to get off campus one afternoon, to get away from the inanity of higher ed, from students who didn’t care, from stupid rules and useless meetings and endless paperwork, from administrators who didn’t care about teaching.

"Major universities worth their salt have neighborhood pubs around them for the students, and select ones for the faculty. But not so for where they labored against ignorance, a commuter-oriented university in the midst of a rich religious-right Republican suburb of a government-welfare capital city in a somewhat backward, if friendly, state. And this was grievous indeed for the Irish Catholic, veteran advertising professor whose sense of humor offset the injustices of life. He knew he needed a “little something” to wash away another day. Forsooth, the younger professor and chairman, a recovering tee-totaling fundamentalist, had become an expert over the years in the nonsense of administration, and knew he also needed respite of a liquid kind to keep his sanity.

"Yeah verily, they escaped the halls of mediocrity one day, a cribbage board and cards in hand, and ventured down to a franchise bar and restaurant no more than a half-mile from the austere campus, and found in the back, a booth paneled in dark-stained wood, cushioned with fake green leather, and set off from the rest of the restaurant by fake dark greenery. Then they saw the bartender, a cheerful, bosomy young woman who both knew because she was a student, as with most of theirs, paying her way through college by working long hours in fooderies and drinkeries for cheap pay in hope of good tips.

"To be continued…  "

1 comment:

  1. Hey, no fair! More about the bosomy young women!

    ReplyDelete