Monday, May 07, 2007


Traveling in Charlotte, North Carolina today and tomorrow morning. Folks around here pull for Carolina. Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels. I went to NC State. Wolfpack. Arch rivals.

My exposure to life at NC State in 1981 began with my freshman roommate. I recall getting the notice in late spring during my senior year of high school – upper east side of New York, going to college in the south, and my future roommate’s name sounded…black. Or so thought some of my cousins, who were from New England and therefore even more nervous of blacks than I was.

Turns out he was a more WASPy southern version of me than even I was. Guy dressed himself straight out of page 92 of the Preppie Handbook. Green wide-waled corduroys, button-down blue oxford cotton shirt with the breast pocket starched shut, so the “girls can pull it apart…they luv it.”

We would go to Crazy Zack’s together. It was the local bar/dance place, where students from the neighboring girls’ colleges – Meredith and St. Mary’s – would frequent. Most of the girls I knew at State wouldn’t be caught dead at Zack’s. Way too preppy. All the frat guys went there. They played “beach music,” which centered on Motown, R&B, and swing, and did a dance called “shagging.” (I think you know, Dear Reader, what the British call shagging.) It’s a wonder they did this dance in Baptist territory.

We’d go to Zack’s, and they’d have 16 oz. cups of draft beer for a PENNY for women, in order to get them in the doors, and then $1 drafts for guys. After I befriended a girl at State who actually didn’t mind the place, she and others of us from State would go there, and the women would stockpile the beers along the shelves running around the dance floor. One time, there were like 30 to 40 beers lined up – a total cost of less than fifty cents – for us to consume after Happy Hour was over. (We wonder why localities outlaw happy hours….) (I have stopped drinking and now have enough money saved for an IRA.)

WASPy roommate #1 moved into a frat house second semester, and I got the polar opposite in fall of sophomore year.

Todd was from Bahama (pronounced “buh-HAY-muh”), North Carolina. The name derives from the first letters of local family names Ball, Harris, and Mangum. Population in 2007 is 3,304. Assuming a spawn rate of approximately 1.5% per household per year, when I was in college in the early 80s, the population was probably around 600. (I just totally made up that number…but I remember Todd giving me a figure in the hundreds.) (Todd was also one of the smarter students I met; a zoology major with straight A's and a wicked-good control of facts about nemotodes.)

On the first day we were in the dorms in sophomore year, before I met Todd, one of his friends came by the room looking for him. He had blue denim overalls, a red t-shirt, and a large belly. His black hair was cut in bangs.

Todd here??!!”

“Uh, no…”

Well, you tell him when I see him I’m goin’ to roll him in a mud hole and stomp him drah’ !

He walked off.


I’ll tell him that.

Just the way you said it.

photo: nadsenoj

1 comment:

Emily said...

My husband is quitting his job and going back to school . . . at NC State. You've just got me more excited.