This summer we took the Dude on a tour of several fine Midwestern Universities. It’s a little early, I know, as the Dude is only a rising junior, but I wanted to get him thinking about the prospect long before he had to make any decisions about where to apply. I thought it would be a great opportunity for the Dude to see what different schools had to offer. He had a lot of questions.
Thank god he didn’t ask any of them out loud. For the record, the Dude is very intelligent. That being said, his thought train makes some pretty random stops.
It was a beautiful day to tour the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. I’m pretty familiar with it, since it’s close to where I grew up. My sister went to school there. I almost went to school there before I changed my mind. I went to Michigan State instead. U of M has a great business school, so I decided to take him anyway. If he decides to go there, I’ll figure out how to deal with it. After I figure out how to pay the tuition. That part will be much harder. If nothing else, I knew I’d get Cottage Inn pizza before the day was over.
When we arrived we were shuffled into an auditorium called the “Victor’s room.” There was no coffee. None of the presentations we’ve been to have had coffee. It’s the only suggestion I’ve put on the evaluation form. Donuts would be nice, too, but I realize that’s a lot to ask for.
Just like every school we have been to, we were greeted by a perky admissions representative. This one was particularly perky. She was also wearing a suit, which impressed me more than it should, but it was like an acknowledgement that education is a big business. She started off by asking the prospective students to raise their hands based on their year in school. Then she asked where the out-of-state students were, and followed up by asking where they were from. There is always one student who has come a ridiculous distance, like China, or Uzbekistan. Virginia barely registers a mention.
Anyhow, the Dude raised his hand about as high as his shoulder. The room held over 100 people and we were seated in the back. I said, “I don’t think she can see you.” The Dude’s look told me that was entirely the point. So I asked him why he raised it at all. “I do live somewhere, you know.” He’s all about following the rules.
The perky rep did her spiel, which sounds like everyone else’s spiel. The school is awesome, the teachers are awesome, only some of the classes are huge (pretty much every class he’ll take for the first two years), and they have a million things to do other than study, and of course, all of them are wholesome and legal and don’t involve alcohol.
Then she asked who wanted to study abroad and pretty much every kid in the room raised their hand but the Dude, who crossed his hands over his chest like he was refusing communion. My husband leaned over and whispered “Welcome to our University, now get out.” Neither of us were surprised by the Dude’s reaction. He has never liked to travel. When I was pregnant, I was working on an automotive project visiting test sites all over the country. I had kept my pregnancy a secret up until that point, but morning noon and night sickness outed me. I’ve vomited in an airplane from every major carrier–even a few that don’t exist anymore. The Dude didn’t even like traveling in utero.
Finally, as a coup de grace, the admissions officer flashed a picture of Darren Criss onto the screen while gushing that he’s a Wolverine.
The Dude scoffed. “He is not.”
I responded that I was pretty sure he was.
“Wolverine is that Australian dude.” He made fake claws as she listed additional alums of note. At that point, I realized he was kidding. “These presentations make college seem like a cult. I mean, what is a Wolverine?”
I start to answer, and realized I’m not exactly sure. I’ve never seen one.
The admissions rep split us up for the tour. The sheet in my son’s welcome packet had a “Wolverine word” on it that would correspond to our group. Our was MAIZE.
“What does corn have to do with University of Michigan,” he asked.
“The school color.” I answered. “You know. Maize and Blue. ” I’m sort of surprised he didn’t get it. After all, Tom Brady played for U of M. The Dude is quiet. “You didn’t know that?” I asked him.
“I thought it was Amazin’ Blue.” I was speechless. Amazin’ Blue. “It’s yellow, people. Yellow. Maize is not a color. It’s a vegetable.”
“Corn is a grain, dude.”
“I didn’t ask you.”
I reassure him. “It’s okay, someone will take you. There are a lot of universities out there. Even in Iowa. They have a lot of corn there.”
“At least when I’m gone you’ll stop writing about me.”
I wouldn’t bet on it. I’ve got a backlog and two more years to go.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph “Corn Field” by Edwin IJsman ©2012 Creative Commons