When our granddaughter first arrived at Ole Miss we were already here. After we retired my wife and I decided to come back to our alma mater to live. Our granddaughter, Taylar, was undecided about where she wanted to go to college. We told her we would help her wherever she wanted to attend- except Mississippi State, of course.
After due consideration and having obtained a scholarship, she choose Ole Miss to our relief. She told us she had a sudden epiphany about coming here inspired by being able to immediately hit us up for the odd $20 or supper at short notice. Both of which she has availed herself of often. Factored into her decision was the unlimited availability of our washer, dryer and refrigerator.
That freshman year was a unique experience. She broadened her education by working at the desk at a freshman dorm. I was astonished to learn from her that girls sneaked their boyfriends in to spend the night, weekends, and other odd assignations. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens at Ole Miss gets discussed and with time embellished beyond recognition. College drinking is I suppose a rite of passage, but at Ole Miss it is taken to soaring heights. On the town square “The Square” every Friday and Saturday kids wielding fake ids, confident attitudes, and eager looks invade the local watering holes. The following mornings are fraught with sickness and hangovers. You can track these novice alcoholics by the trail of puke back to their dorms.
Our memory of her sophomore year pales, but one episode stands out. She called us one day and asked us if we wanted to go to lunch (in college speak this means take me to lunch and pay for it). This is somewhat similar to asking to borrow twenty dollars. Both of my boys and my granddaughter have over the years asked to “borrow” money. That term is deceptive and I have yet to be paid back one cent. I could sue, but as to the boys the statute of limitations has long since run. As to the granddaughter, my wife would provide the defense.
We sit down. Taylar grabs each one of us by the hands – mine begin to sweat. “Nana, Pawpaw I have something to tell you”. My heart skipped a beat, my sphincter closed tighter that a vise grip. Visions of drug arrests, pregnancy, marriage, dropping out, or, God forbid, wanting to transfer to Mississippi State all flowed through my tortured brain. “I have decided to become a lawyer”, she blurted out. My wife began wailing, “Nooo, baby, nooooo, please noooo.” As the blood suddenly returned to my head I was so relieved I yelled out loud, “Yessssssss, Lord. I am saved.” People began to demand their checks and the waiter asked if I wanted a drink. “Not a double, but a quadruple,” I ordered. She has since decided to go to grad school, which is on the whole a better plan.
It is an odd phenomenon, the longer a student persists at school the more stuff is accumulated. I will never forget Taylar’s sophomore year. She had an apartment on campus in an old building on a hill constructed at the beginning of the Cold War based in the plumbing and floor plan. But, it was her first apartment and she was thrilled. I discovered from the street to the top of the stairs on the second floor there are 67 steps. I know each one of them personally. Twice I lost consciousness hauling her baggage up them. Why does one person need 5 pairs of black tennis shoes (indistinguishable to me) or 11 pairs of black shorts, and no she isn’t a Goth!
The hilltop apartment was home for her junior year, but the Housing Department must have taken pity on me because they moved her to the side with a ground floor entrance. For awhile she was the photo editor for the Daily Mississippian student paper and an expert sports photographer. I begged her to just let me carry her photo equipment on the field but was met with a stern, “Oh Pawpaw”, which means NO.
This year she and her roommate have moved into a nice apartment off campus. How can one person have so much danged stuff? It took me, her mom, her cousin, and my handy godson to get them moved (the second floor this time). Despite our best efforts she still has belongings at our house, in her storage unit, our storage unit, her mom’s house, her aunt’s house, and her car. According to her she could live out of her car for two months. I believe this. The back seat and rear of her Jeep are cluttered with stuff: old coffee cups, a partially eaten McDonald’s breakfast, part of a sign, three quarts of iced tea, gumbo mix from the coast, and well hidden fishing tackle. For all I know an immigrant family may be taking refuge there. Don’t tell Trump.