The Final Straw

Posted: November 24th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: College, Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Misc Neuroses | 2 Comments »

Several months ago I bought a wooden toy chest as one of my volunteer duties for Kate’s preschool auction. A guy from the furniture store took it out to the car for me while I was signing the credit card receipt.

A few minutes later he came back in and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t put that in your car.” Odd, since he’d measured it and my car minutes ago and assured me there was plenty of room.

After waiting a couple seconds and (I assume) delightfully registering my confusion, the guy leans into my face and leers, “I can’t put it in a car with a Carleton College sticker! I went to St. Olaf!”

Sadly for him, I had no awareness of the apparent collegiate rivalry to which he was referring, since it’s Mark who’s the Carleton alum.

Sadly for me, I didn’t think fast enough to make the “We always said you St. Olaf people would be moving furniture for us one day” comment.

Oh well. It’s just another little weird-since-it-ain’t-my-college scenario that’s cropped up ever since we had Kate and I started driving Mark’s car, which along with its superior kid-transporting space, comes emblazoned with his alma mater’s sticker across the back window.

Actually, I barely notice it myself now, but every once and a while I’ll get something like a realtor’s business card left on the windshield that says, “Hey, fellow Carl! Please call me if you’re ever looking for a house in the Bay Area!” (Cute or annoying? You decide!)

And just a few weeks ago a friend’s husband offered to ran out to my car for something and not knowing whether he knew which one was mine I started to say, “It’s the silver Subaru–” and he jumped in “–with the Carleton College sticker. Yeah, yeah, I know it.”

It’s not like I have anything against Carleton. I mean, aside from the fact they swiped my small liberal arts college’s former president. News of which came through to Mark and I via our respective alumni newsletters. Kenyon’s two-bit pamphlet-like paper arrived one day with a pathetic entreaty that “the search was on” for a new president. The cover story seemed nearly as desperate as, “Hey, know anyone who’s kinda smart and willing to live in a fancy house in hell-and-gone rural Ohio for not much money but a noble job? We’re looking for a new president. (See reverse side for application.)”

Or at least in my mind it seemed that way.

The Carleton alumni rag is all schmancy, printed on stock only a former magazine hack could love, with stunning close-up cover photos of former students who are off excelling in some dazzling job you never even knew existed but is utterly world-bettering, death-defying, and/or hip. Let’s just say that the issue of The Voice that came to us a couple weeks after Kenyon’s sorry ass we-don’t-got-no-president newsletter was a gloating tribute to their new glorious leader.

It was all so tragic I don’t think Mark even had much fun chiding me for it.

And to think that on a daily basis I drive around the Carleton-mobile that has a sticker on it that everyone I know has seemed to notice and comment on at one time or other as if the whole car is wrapped in that plastic sheeting advertisement stuff they did a lot of before all those kooky dot coms with animal names folded a few years back.

So this morning I’d just parked outside my new chiropractor’s office when a guy pulled up alongside me in a way that set off my paranoid mind to wondering if I’d taken his spot, leveled a parking meter, or had the end of my scarf dragging out the door on the street for the past seven miles. Instead the guy is kinda smirking, motions for me to roll down my window, and calls out as if I’m on the other end of a wind tunnel and he needs me to grab a safety harness, “CARLETON! I see the Carleton sticker on your car!”

“Yes,” I say wearily, preparing for his let-down when I have to eventually tell him I don’t know the double-secret Carl handshake. And feigning interest: “Did you go there?”

“YES! I DID!” he shouts enthusiastically and unnecessarily. “Do you have a child that goes there?!”

[Sudden sound of needle scratching across record] A child? A child?

Okay, so I think Mark and I need to talk about that sticker finally coming off. Or maybe me just getting a new car altogether. The Sube is clearly not doing anything to uphold my youthful image.


2 Comments on “The Final Straw”

  1. 1 Drea said at 7:30 am on November 25th, 2008:

    Hey, at least it’s just your car that’s doing you in. My sister was in a shop with her daughter, and the shop owner asked if she was the GRANDMOTHER!

  2. 2 AmyB said at 4:05 pm on December 11th, 2008:

    Hey, Brian and I sat down at the Pirate’s Cove 2 years ago (I’m 40, he’s 46 at the time). and the bartender asked how many kids we had at Kenyon. Brian couldn’t get over it. I said “honey, we theoretically could have kids in college! We were in Columbus for a wedding and decided to stay in Gambier for a night.

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