A Friday night college experience

One Friday night, early in my senior year in college, I gathered with four other English majors at a bar across the street from campus to wind down after a long week. (The University still had Saturday classes at that time, but some of us had discontinued them for ourselves.)

After a couple of beers, we were about to leave when two professors from our department made an entrance. I’m pretty sure this was not their first stop of the evening. We were in a corner both. They sat down, one on each side, trapping us in.

They proceeded to ply us with more beer while they debated fine points of English literature, which had not been a part of any of our discussion to that point. One was Irish American, complete with red hair. The other was a transplanted Englishman with a commanding presence. The intensity of the discussion grew with each pitcher. It got personal at times. “Castrated Celt!” “Nerd from Northumberland!”

When they finally left, we sat there in a state not unlike shock. One of my friends broke our silence with, “I feel drained.”

We all enjoyed our classes and were serious students. Yet we valued strategic breaks from our studies.

We stumbled out and wandered through campus in a gentle, early-autumn rain. It seemed to be the best way to recover. The rain eased our minds as it slowly penetrated our clothes. That was good enough for most of us. The two females in the group, however, took it a step further. At the construction site of the new student union, they acted on an impulse to roll in the mud.

It didn’t occur to me until decades later to write about the experience. I wonder what the Celt and the Nerd would think of this meager literary attempt. I don’t doubt they would find a way to argue about it.