All’s Quiet on the Western Front! Too Quiet…

School’s out, school’s out! Teacher’s let the fools out! Anonymous

Anonymous has written and said a lot of interesting things and some foolish stuff that are just fun. That little ditty is something I used to chant every May with great joy when I was attending PS 70 in Clay Center, NE.

It’s awfully quiet here just off State Street for a Friday night. The University has turned the students loose for summer break. The dull roar from the bars isn’t even a whimper. The city feels empty. Dead.

It always takes me a few weeks to get used to the lack of energy and simple body mass the students provide every year. There is always a change of clerks and shelf stockers at the grocery store as the University kids move out and the High school kids move in to take over for the summer. Some of them are new and don’t have any more clue than I do where the tooth picks are and cthuluh only knows why they keep moving them around.

Starbucks at the top of State street or is it the bottom? Do you think the State Capitol Building should be considered the top of the Mall or the beginning of the University Library Mall is the top of the street? When we start at or near the Capitol Building are we walking down State Street or up State Street? Larry and I used to argue about that frequently. I always said up and he said down.

Whatever. Starbucks is virtually empty. You can get a seat anywhere you want to sit and no one will give you the stare of death if you hold a conversation. The students had co-opted Starbucks as a study hall with caffeine, a fireplace and wireless internet service. He who got their first had dibs on the hearth for all his or her friends.

You couldn’t even talk on the smoking balcony without getting “the look” which would make Larry acutely uncomfortable but I would just stare back and talk louder about how some people should go home and study if they couldn’t concentrate when other people talked in a damn coffee shop because HEY, you know, people go to coffee shops to meet their friends and TALK and believe it or not the students didn’t own this particular coffee shop so they could eff off if people having a conversation in a normal tone of voice bothered them. And that usually put an end to the look of death from the toddlers with entitlement issues.

Still, for the most part, I like the students. In particular I like the ones who wouldn’t be caught dead in Starbucks. I particularly like the kids who would frequent Steep & Brew and hide out in some of the out of the way corners discussing radical politics or sitting alone writing angsty poetry about unrequited love. I like the kids who have the weird piercings and wear all black black clothes and spiked accessories. I like the way they slouch along the street in androgynous packs, I like the girls who wear gaudy retro clothes from Ragstock with fishnet stockings and platform shoes and date boy men who have intense eyes and shy grins and have managed to grow wispy goatees they’re obviously very proud of

There are a lot of people here at the Three Threes who don’t like the college kids but these young people tickle me and I find them refreshing. I eavesdrop on the intellectual conversations at Steep and Brew or simply sit there and watch them coming and going, working and playing. I find their youthful energy and exuberance exhilarating and their hopeful belief that someday they are going to change the world in important ways poignant.

Not only that, in a few years these kids are going to be my future and the future of my children and grandchildren, the movers and shakers who are going to be making important decisions in all of our lives–Doctors, Lawyers, Business men aspiring to be CEOS of major corporations, Inventors, Legislators and Scientists. Why I might have even seen a President or two walking past me on State Street! Or perhaps the woman who is going to find the cure for some devastating disease like Lou Gherigs which has deprived us of Michael Fox’s fine hand at comedy. O someone who will be able to diagnose my illness and treat it so I live a longer, more productive life.

You never know, The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a world class college in terms of Academics. The School of Medicine is one of the best in the nation and you should see our Sports Dept at work. The , Bucky Badgers field winning tournament winners in Football, Basketball (men’s and women’s), Hockey, Field and Track, Golf, and Gymnastics. by now and done so  without a whimper. YAY me!  Well maybe I should  have my hormones checked to be certain of that before I go around crowing about it.



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