If I could write one redeeming quality about my first college, it would be this: nothing. Admittedly, I did not make the most of my college experience, and leaving after three semesters seemed to be the highlight. One semester, finding myself short of funds, I opted against buying any text books; fifteen semester hours later, I only had one C, and simply because the professor graded on attendance (which I found ironic since he skipped class more often than me, sending his undeservingly pretentious grad student in his place to turn on the projector). Sorry, but if the snow was falling, I would not be in class. I lacked passion for my alma mater so I gladly packed up my forty-five hours of credit and took them elsewhere.
For Thanksgiving break of my first semester, my family insists on driving over and picking me up late Wednesday night. The outstanding post-secondary institution shuttered its dorms well before the family station wagon arrives on campus, so I drag four days of clothes across campus. I recall thinking how clever it would be if in the future all suitcases come with wheels. One building remains open for the students, like me, who choose to spend Thanksgiving on the Island of Misfit Coeds, so after an exhausting trek across the deserted sidewalks, I settle into the lobby of the dimly-lit building for a five-hour wait.
Just Me and Arnold
Thankfully, I find myself alone with a television so no one stops me from getting up and changing the channel. I recall thinking how clever it would be if in the future all televisions come with remote controls. Growing up, we did not enjoy a wide selection of viewing opportunities, and our living room rabbit ears received five stations: 3 (ABC), 5 (independent), 8 (PBS), 10 (CBS), and 12 (NBC). If Disney re-released a movie in theaters, we would go see it. Two years prior to college, my father splurged and bought our family a video-recording device, but not a VCR. He felt the Beta format would be the future of home video technology. So for the next five hours, I delight in possessing full reign of the wide selection of cable channels.
At the top of the 8:00 hour, after flipping through random programming that adequately passes time, I stumble across a jewel, a film completely out of all categories of television and movie programming to which I had been subjected in my youth and adolescence: Conan the Barbarian. Dark and dismal, much like the university environment in which I sit, this film sings of forced subjugation in deplorable conditions, just like college life in the Midwest. James Earl Jones transforms himself into a snake and slithers away. I can get onboard with that; at least if I had slithering abilities, I wouldn’t have to wait five hours for someone to arrive to pick me up. I don’t recall anything from my long holiday weekend with my family, but I remember those two hours passed the fastest of the entire lost weekend. While certainly not a crowd favorite, to this day I still believe that quirky introduction of Arnold Schwarzenegger into American culture beats the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade anytime.