This is Part Three of a continuing auto-biographical series to read parts one and two, click here and here. Now that we're all up to speed, please continue.
(1999-2001) The Drunken Rogue Goes to College
In the summer of 1999, I departed Bastrop for the first time. I had signed up for a summer class at Louisiana Tech University. It was only a three week course, but that represented the longest I had ever been away from home. I was ecstatic. My mother and father, with whom I've always had a great relationship, were grating on my nerves, and I on theirs. So I loaded up the Grand Am (new car for college) and moved into Graham Hall.
Adam: Sure it will, they don't look at anything other than the birthday. Maybe the Social Sec. # memorize that, too. Come on, I gotta study for a test tommorrow, go to the bar. You'll have a good time. So I went, and he was right. All they looked at was the birthday. Good thing, too. Because otherwise a short brown haired irish boy, named Joel would have been sitting outside "The HonkyTonk" all night while his friends partied, and Adam's ID would have been confiscated. Coonass Rick and I had several things in common: We liked to drink, we liked to smoke (I had kicked the habit late in high school, but picked it up again when I got to college, everybody else did it!), and we were both positive that we were the funniest two human beings ever born. With a few possible exceptions, we have yet to be proved wrong. Rick is a strong personality. He is easy to love, easy to hate and terribly hard to ignore. I was looking for a mentor, he was looking for a disciple. It worked out for everybody. Rick and I eventually went our separate ways, but I owe a lot of my experience and outlook on life to him. So thanks, Rick. Top Lessons from Rick: 1. How to drink beer -- I had only drank hard liquor and mixed drinks before college, beer just wasn't to my taste. Rick bought four cases of Keystone Light and suggested that either I'd like beer by the end of the weekend or I'd have a horrible weekend. I liked beer at the end of the weekend. 2. It's cool to dress retarded for school as long as you're comfortable, and you prove to the teachers that you're smarter than the other suckers in the room -- Ah, pajama pants, how I love thee. 3. Gaelic Music can be cool -- when played really, really loudly and as long as your wearing sunglasses when you get out of the car. 4. Band members don't get nearly as much tail as they make out that they do -- They do however, live in crappy houses, dislike bathing and generally take twice as long as the rest of us to get their degree. 5. Dr. John Price is the coolest professor that I will ever meet -- A close second, third, fourth and fifth are Dr. Gary Stokely, Dr. Jo Richardson, Dr. Attrep, and Dr. Toburen (all social sciences incidentally) John Price is in fact the coolest professor I ever had. I met Dr. John K. Price about a month and a half before high school graduation. I and a couple of my buddies, Darren, and Gerad had all made appointments to meet several people on Tech Campus including our advisers, mine was Price. The three of us sat in the Social Science office, waiting for about thirty minutes. Price apparently had better things to do. When he did show up, I was unimpressed. Late 50's, wrinkled button up shirt, suspenders and a bowtie? Who the hell wears a bowtie? He barked out, "Who's Joel?" I stood up. "Well, follow me then." He turned and began hussling down the hallway towards his office. He, apparently, was also unimpressed. Our conversation went something like this: Price: Want to be a lawyer do you?
Joel: Yes, sir.
Price: Where'd you go to school?
Joel: Prairie View Academy.
Price stopped walking, turned and gave me a look that I can only call complete contempt. I felt a little like he blamed me for most of society's ills.
Price: Prairie View, huh?
Joel: Yes, sir.
We had now arrived at his office. It was exactly what I expected, books everywhere, the odd piece of art, record collection and something I didn't expect, a Kermit the Frog poster, with a stack of Dr. Pepper cans under it.
Price: Mr. Sharpton, I don't think Law is for you.
Joel: No, sir?
Price: Quit calling me sir, will you? Jesus. No, law is not for you, it's mostly pushing papers and boring stuff like that. I'll give the name of a English professor, maybe that'll be more up your alley.
Joel: Well, I just thought that I--
Price: Well that's the problem, Mr. Sharpton, you tried thinking. If I had a dime for every lazy-ass private school son-of-a...What did you make on the ACT, Sharpton?
Joel: 31, sir.
Price: (Immediate change of attitude) Well why the hell didn't you say so? You'll make a fine lawyer, I thought you were just some snot nose punk with a silver spoon in his...and stop calling me sir. Call me Dr. Price or Price or John, don't call me Doc though, that pisses me off.
Joel: Alright, Price.
Price: Good, let's get you signed up for the honors college, you know I'm the head of the honors college, and also you'll want to take honors university seminar with me in the fall...do you ever listen to John Prine, Sharpton?
Joel: No, sir, uh, I mean, no. I haven't.
Price: Well you should, greatest American songwriter other than maybe Dylan.
Joel: I like Dylan.
Price: Of course you do, you're smart. That's how our relationship started. John Price was the most fascinating man I'd ever met, still is, in fact. He and I would spend hours talking about religion (he was anatheist, I was a (somewhat) good Baptist boy; music (Louis Armstrong, John Prine, Dylan, and the Rolling Stones were some of his favorites); movies; and philosophy. I took every class he taught my freshman year, partly because I knew he was leaving, but mostly because I was captivated by the way he taught. He'd quote movies, and poetry, berate the students and belittle his own sexual prowess all in the first fifteen minutes. He was also a brilliant political mind. Every college career should have at least one John Price in it. In case you were wondering, I did eventually find out what the Kermit the frog poster and stack of Dr. Pepper cans was for. In his philosophy classes and occasionally in Political Science classes as well, whenever religion would come up, he would claim to worship the "Great Green Toad." He did it so much that a few students had decided to build him a shrine to the great green toad, with the Kermit the frog poster as the Icon of the piece. It's pretty damn, funny if you ask me. It was through Price that I met a girl. No, not the only girl I met during that first year of college, but the most important one, Debbie. Debbie was smart and sassy, funny and fun-loving. She liked movies and McDonald's and those were about all my requirements. She also happened to be Mormon. I was an open-minded young man, pursuing what I liked to refer to as Deism at the time, so what did I care about her religious preference. Live and let live, man. She didn't seem to mind terribly in the beginning either, and we started dating. I fell in love, and fell hard. It was my first adult relationship, and it messed me up. After a year and a half of struggling against our basic philosophical and religious differences, she finally gave up. I didn't at first, it would take a trip to Ohio and a large amount of alcohol to shake me loose. Debbie is a sweet girl, married now, I believe and I wish her all the best. One of the things I have come to realize about old friends and girlfriends is that no matter how bad the hurt is in the immediate, long term that hurt makes you who are to become. I like who I am, so I don't begrudge Debbie or anybody else for the hurt. Isn't it amazing how I could cover the basics of my first thirteen years on earth in one post, cover four years of high school in one post but can't even manage two-and-a-half years of college? I guess it's obvious where I did most of my living. This is getting long, so I'll sub-sub divide. The Life and Times of the Drunken Rogue: Part 3.5 will arrive shortly. Don't forget the comments and kudos!