Sunday, December 5, 2010

I REMEMBER - Chico State College and the pigeons

When I had first started thinking about college and where I should go, I set up a meeting with my high school career counselor.  Being seventeen, I was seeking independence from home and my parents, as my top priority.  Career, college, life...everything else was secondary.

When I met with my counselor, he asked "What do you want to do"? and 'had I thought about what college to attend'.  I told him it had to be in California for in-state fees (my parent's criteria) and it had to be at least one hour away from Rancho Cordova (my criteria - not living at home anymore, close enough for me to get home when I wanted to and yet, too far away for my parents to just drop in anytime they wanted).

I applied at several colleges.  My grades were good, my SAT's were good, so I got accepted at a few places and took them into my counselor's office to discuss. We narrowed it down to UC Davis, Cal State, San Luis Obispo, and Chico State College. We talked about the merits of each:  UC Davis was a good university and close to home, so I could save money from dorm fees and live at home.  San Luis Obispo was a good school, close to the beach and was only a few hours away.  Chico State College was a good school, one hour away, rated the number one party school in America in Playboy magazine and had an enrollment of 3 to 1, women to men.

It was a tough decision, but at the end, I chose Chico State.

My first day enrolling for classes was easy and yet, traumatic.  I had done my research on available classes, filled my schedule card early and was taking a break under one of the huge Valley Oak trees that is a hallmark of the Chico State campus.  I was reading over the class descriptions when I was approached by a very friendly and attractive coed, with an arm full of books.  She asked if she could sit down in the shade (early September in Chico - close to 100 degrees outside).  I gladly invited her to share the shade and thought to myself: "This has to be the best school in the universe. Here it is - the first day of school and I might end up with a girlfriend".  We talked about where we were from, blah, blah, blah and the whole time I am thinking how lucky I was and how great it was to be on top of the world, as I was, at that moment.

Then, the moment ended. 

The challenge of sitting under the shade of a large tree, is that birds also like to sit on the limbs of shady trees.  The young woman and I were hitting it off magnificently and had closed our personal space to about two feet, when a large pigeon pooped on my head, my nose and down the inside of my glasses.  I was stunned. At first I thought it was rain - but at 100 degrees on a cloudless day, that couldn't be it.  A second later, I realized my budding romantic moment had just been crapped on.

My new friend had maintained a respectful silence for that same long one second also.  Then, unable to hold it in any longer, she burst out laughing, so hard she fell over.

I turned beet-red and tried to clean the bird doo off my nose, head and glasses with my shirt sleeve.  It didn't work.  It smeared and got worse. I am sure I looked like I had Indian war-paint on, in gooey black and white streaks, from my nose to my chin.  I couldn't see because the inside of my glasses lenses were streaked with the same greasy pigeon droppings. 

I thought my new friend was going to choke to death.  She couldn't get her breath.  Tears of laughter and big air-sucking sounds were bursting forth from her face. I took it somewhat personally, as I had not yet fully refined my now finely honed, self-depreciation skills.

I got angry.

She grabbed her books and ran away, laughing hysterically.

I had just lost my first college relationship in record time (from beginning to end in under seven minutes). I didn't even get her name. I was hoping she didn't remember mine, as I am sure I was the topic of conversation in her dorm that night or probably all week.  That was 46 years ago.  She is probably somewhere, writing a blog about it, right now.

The day wasn't totally crappy as I got a brand-new  3-ring binder out of the deal.  She had dropped one as she ran away and didn't stop to retrieve  it. I eventually gave the binder to my roommate.  Too many memories.

No comments: