2007.04.04 Choosing a college is easy when your mother's a goon

Written by David Green.


I didn’t intend to travel anywhere for spring break this year. A combination of guilt and fickle finances convinced me that if anybody was going anywhere it should be David. In past years, he hasn’t always joined me and the kids on spring break excursions due to the demands of putting out a paper every week. So, I nobly suggested that he accompany Maddie to Miami to visit Ben and attend a University of Miami campus event for accepted students and their parents, while I stayed home and worked at the office.

Then Maddie was invited by the other of her prospective Florida colleges to a scholarship competition. It was a hefty scholarship opportunity, one we thought she shouldn’t pass up—even though we think she will probably end up selecting the University of Michigan as her college of choice. But David didn’t like her plan to travel by Greyhound alone from downtown Orlando to downtown Miami. So, enter me, personal parental escort to the indecisive future college student.

Now that I’ve returned from what became a glorious 10-day trip to Florida, I’ve gotten over the guilt of going from no vacation to a vacation twice as long as David’s Wednesday-to-early-Monday-morning journey. David had eased the guilt somewhat by suggesting I consider the trip a celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. I guess it was fitting that he was only there half the time since the other half I was mentally checked out anyway.

Maybe it was the stress of driving a rental car, trying not to get in a crash and wondering if I made the right decision of opting to return the car with a full tank of gas instead of paying for a full tank in advance and returning the car on an empty tank. Maybe it was the burden of ignoring the twinge of fear that lingers in the background when mother and daughter travel alone, feeling like an easy mark. Maybe it was just the continuing saga of me being me. Whatever it was, it sure was persistent.

It started when I tried to drive the rental car wearing my clunky and quite ugly sage and brown Birkenstock sandals. My foot kept slipping on the gas pedal so I switched the Birk with the right foot of my hot pink Crocs, also quite ugly, but extremely comfortable. That footgear worked well on our first evening driving around the Orlando area. When we returned to a mall the second night, we entered through the Barnes and Noble bookstore. I sauntered in while Maddie rushed through, headed for clothing stores inside the mall. We planned to meet later in the bookstore. I was approaching the bathroom when I looked down and discovered I was wearing an ugly Birkenstock on one foot and a hot pink Croc on the other. Glad that Maddie wasn’t there to witness the doddering acts of her mother, I walked all the way through the store, trying not to laugh out loud, back to the car to make the switch to two ugly Birkenstocks.

Two days later, I did the same thing. We walked into a restaurant on Park Avenue in the very swanky Winter Park neighborhood. We ordered and ate our food, then walked into a store to browse when I happened to look down and see the Birkenstock on the left foot and hot pink Croc on the right. Maddie ushered me out of the store, whereupon I proceeded to try to unlock another white car that was not ours, all the while laughing out loud at my folly. Maddie had returned to the store by this time, unamused by my antics and incredulous that I can’t tell the difference between a Dodge Charger and a Lexus LS.

Later in the week, we were walking around Coconut Grove after dinner and Ben’s girlfriend Sarah had to go to the bathroom.

“Let's go in this hotel,” Maddie suggested.

So, we walk into the lobby of a swanky hotel pretending we belong, go to the bathroom, sample their fancy hand cream and then stroll through the lobby as if we're hotel guests. We were two blocks away before I realized my belt was hanging down unbuckled.

You probably don’t need to hear the story of the earplug in the toilet, or my escapades on the exercise course at a park near Ben’s house, but if Maddie chooses to go to school in Florida—far away from me—I’m guessing you won’t be surprised.

    – April 4, 2007 
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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