Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chivalry and The Keyless Remote

Back in the dark ages (or was it 1987?), when a young man still had to call a young lady on the phone (one of those electrical communication apparati that had mostly similar ring tones, push-button or rotary dials, and actually conformed to the contours of your hand and face) to ask her out on a date--or he might even gather up the courage to ask her in person, there was no such thing as keyless entry for vehicles.  

As a matter of fact, one of the questions that we might have asked (or been asked) after such a social engagement would have been "Did he open the door for you?".   Meaning the car or truck door, primarily.  But, the door to any location to which the date might have taken you was fair game, too.  This was one of the many signs of chivalry, or of being a gentleman, as it were.  Was he thoughtful enough to do such things?  Of course, in a young man's defense, despite his pretense of confidence and uber-togetherness, he might simply forget to do so, out of nervousness.  Usually, this "rationale" provided by those whose dates forgot to do so.  But, likely, he didn't forget again.  Yes, we were ruthless like that.

I do recall, on one such occasion, the internal debate that raged in my head.  "Do I get out of the car, independently, and deny him the chance to be a gentleman? But, what if I do that, and he was going to get the door for me, and then he thinks I'm a loser because I was impatient?  Or because I didn't expect to be treated with such respect?  Or do I sit and wait, while he makes his way up the sidewalk, presuming that I would join him on the short stroll to the green-striped awnings of Bradley's, and look like a goober, waiting...waiting."  Sadly, by the time my mental monologue concluded, I found myself still seated in the car.  And, he noticed that I was still in the car.  He paused, debating, and I paused, waiting.  Simultaneously, he quickly made his way to the passenger side while I reached for the door handle to let myself out.  Awkward with a capital "A". 

And along came the keyless remote.  Hmm, now that put an interesting twist on things.  Not only did it potentially change up the gentleman criterion checklist--but the behavioral nuances that accompany such an invention.  Of course, I thought that even with this energy-saving device, a young man should still open the door for his lady--and close it.  He should not just aim the clicker in the direction of the vehicle and let the lady fend for herself.  Of course, she is perfectly capable of doing so.  However, it is the gesture of kindness and thoughtfulness that goes a long way.  A very long way.

"Well, this is all fine and good for 'pitching woo'" as a dear prof of mine preferred to call these rituals of dating and mating, "but, is it really necessary after you've won her heart, bought the ring, said "I do", and all that stuff?".  A resounding YES!  Or, perhaps even a barbaric yawp.  (Dead Poets Society, my friends.  If you have to ask, you must stop whatever you are doing, download, borrow, or stream it today.  Or, you can come to my house and watch it.)

Of course, it may not happen EVERY time you go out together.  It might be a mundane trip to the grocery store or some such place.  I might add that now that our offspring are of the age where they can be on their own for an hour or so without blood or ashes, a trip to Kroger can be a mini-date.  Seriously.  You take what you can get, people.  Those of you who have been married for awhile are nodding.  And grinning.  I can see you.

Back to the issue at hand.  Simply because one now possesses an object that makes life easier (as in the aforementioned keyless remote) doesn't mean that chivalry goes out the door.  In fact, take it from me, it makes the gentlemanly gesture all the more meaningful.  Truth be told, it does make one feel a bit royal.  Like a princess.  And, after nearly twenty years of matrimonial bliss, I never tire of such efforts.  Ever.  

My mother-in-law adorably insists upon it--to my father-in-law's purported and vocal protestations.  Frankly, he loves it.  We know it. She knows it.  He knows it.  And, he knows we know it.  But, he likes to put on a show!  It's always worth the price of admission.

So, gentlemen, consider yourselves warned.  Gentlewomen, consider yourselves informed.  And, for goodness sake, don't honk the horn to indicate that you have arrived--or that you are waiting in the driveway.  That, my friends, as I am prone to say, is another blog entirely.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Roots and Wings

It's that time of year again.  When our students return to Bulldog Country (The West Tennessee version--not Athens, Georgia, don't you know!), increasing the income of our local "Stuff-Marts", and reminding those of us affiliated, both directly and by marriage, of why we love this Place.  In our ever-expanding circle, this has been a summer of engagements, newlyweds, and new-to-them abodes.  Moving furniture, finding out that the stackable washer-dryer acquired for free just might not fit in the basement without some minor carpentry work, and just where did we put that owner's manual anyway?  As our own offspring mark milestones this year (see Th-Th-Thirteen and Mini-Hooper hits double digits next month), we are also watching our "heart-kids" grow in so many ways.  Navigating job offers, lease agreements, and the dynamics of newly-minted matrimony is a sweet blessing.  And, yes, it makes us feel old.  Oh wait, not old.  Seasoned. Vintage.  Yeah.

Realistically, some of these dear hearts will come and go (sniff, sniff) in a mere four years.  While we delight in those "young adults" who have returned to the rhinestone on the buckle of the Bible Belt, post-Pomp and Circumstance, there are some other folks who have longevity here--they have put down roots and invested in this Place.  They are those who welcomed us--or in some cases, we came in together.  Another facet of this faculty life is the relationships that are cultivated as a result of being called to the same garden.  Can you tell I just finished doing some yard-work?

When I reflect back on my undergraduate days, I affectionately recall the friendships, roommate hilarities, and late-night runs to Taco Bell.  I remember strolling down Worth Avenue, seeing "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" at Value Cinema for the fourteenth time, and changing majors.  Yes, Miss "I'm Going to be a Lawyer, Darnit" actually changed her major from Political Science to Pre-Law.  And, then from Pre-Law to Marketing.  One of the best decisions I ever made.  With help from that previously-immortalized Economics professor.   However, there was some seriously amazing icing on that already delectable cake.  The faculty.  

For those of us fortunate enough to have some kind of diploma of higher education hanging on our wall--or packed away in a memorabilia box, there are professors of various disciplines who impacted our lives, both inside and outside of the classroom.  Even those who unknowingly pointed us in a different direction than we may have had mapped out in our Daytimer of Life.  I have written of this before; but, there is a nifty aspect of that two-decade old wish by the Whale Tongue fountain that I never anticipated.  

What friendships develop out of laboring towards a common goal.  What rich conversations are had over a shared meal.  What laughter ensues as stories are told and life histories are revealed.  Like that time I asked my Philosopher, with twenty minutes to go in the first LOTR film, how they were ever going to resolve this whole ring thing by the movie's end? I was pregnant at the time, mommy-to-be brain and hormones, you know.  Or, how he stuck one of this flip-rings on his forehead, you know those rubber circles that you stick on the floor and then KAPOW, they flip up in the air and delight children of all ages? And it left a mark.  A big, red welt right in the center of his forehead.  Just before he was about to teach his very first class of Intro to Philosophy in Garnet-and-GoldVille?  It's gold, Jerry, I tell you, it's gold.  

It's also about sharing each other's burdens and blessings.  Something as simple as a borrowed truck to pick up a load of mulch at our local DIY warehouse or bringing a meal to new parents.  A friend who says "Absolutely!" to a completely, last-minute lunch invite because you just need to talk to someone who gets it?  Or being the emergency contact on someone's school-related forms.  Incidentally, that makes me feel super grown-up.  So, feel free to list me on your form.  I'm all over it.  

It's about weeping together when hearts are broken over a life snuffed out far too soon--or rejoicing when that much-desired child is brought home to his "forever family."  I could go on and on.  But, you get the point.  I know you do.

Yes, Virginia, this Place would not be the same without the fabulous cohort of 18-22 year-olds that hang out in Barefoot's Joe, play a mean game of Ultimate Frisbee, or create  some of the most beautiful music I might ever hear.  But, a good lot of them will fly the coop after marching across the Great Lawn, clad in black robes, and Pinterest-inspired mortar boards.  

It is the folks seated in the white folding chairs, flanking the graduates, wearing their academic regalia (or dare I say, coats of many colors?) dutifully fanning themselves with Union-emblazoned programs, "glistening" in the late afternoon Tennessee sunshine, who will continue to invest, instill, and inspire in this Place.  And, thus, we have the dynamic life of a college campus.  

It's a very good thing.  

Buster the Bulldog.
The Whale Tongues.  See?


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Evenin' Hymn Sing: Nearer, Still Nearer

Nearer, Still Nearer

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast.
Shelter me safe in that "Haven of Rest"
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest.”

Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an offering to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.

Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!
Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.

Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last.
Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
Through endless ages ever to be
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee!

~Leila Morris (1898)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015