"I read the news today oh, boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh."
- The Beatles, "A Day In The Life" (1967)
Views From the Cheap Seats
Question: Why haven’t I received The Marginal Prophet for the last three weeks?
Answer: Because I went on vacation
Question: Really? Where did you go?
Answer: Back to college
Date: Friday, May 10, 2013
Place: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
7:00am– I wake up groggy after spending a restless night on Barnes Street in Ross’s third-story bedroom. Ross is downstairs sleeping on the ratty living room sofa, courtesy of the recuperating requirements of Left Ankle Surgery #5 two days earlier (yes, he DID have surgery #4 just this past December…but that’s another story). Ross wants me to wake him up at 8:00 so he can prepare for his last collegiate final exam at 9:00. I get dressed and drive six blocks to the Brown University student center to use their bathroom. The bathroom down the hall from Ross’s room has been declared a hazardous waste dump.
7:30am– I’m standing in a long line at the Seven Stars Bakery on Hope Street. The place is packed to the gills. I order a dozen pastries to bring back to Barnes House. The ten seniors who live there are taking/studying for final exams. They’ll let me stay so long as I feed them.
8:00am– Ross, lying on the couch with his heavily bandaged ankle elevated above his head, adds a layer of peanut butter, sliced bananas and cinnamon spice to a piece of toasted wheat bread. He calls this breakfast. I devour a chocolate croissant and a cinnamon bun. I call that breakfast.
9:00am– Fortified with protein, Percocet and Oxycontin, Ross opens his computer and prepares to take his final exam in Corporate Strategy. It’s a two-hour take home test, so I wish Ross luck and head out the door. It’s a warm sunny day in Providence. Perfect coed-watching weather.
10:00am– After wandering around the Brown campus, I head down College Hill towards Wickenden Street in search of the perfect mango smoothie. On my way I stumble upon a small park filled with rambunctious first-graders having way too much fun at recess. They’re kicking balls and playing on swings and climbing monkey bars. This unplanned walk down Memory Lane compels me to sit down on a nearby bench and dial up the Pretty Blonde, who is still in her pajamas on the Left Coast. Suddenly, twenty-two years of parental pride bubble uncontrollably to the surface, and I spend the next fifteen minutes on the phone blathering like an idiot. Where, I cry, did all the time go? I haven’t cried that hard in years.
Noon– To celebrate the completion of his final final, I treat Ross to lunch. He dispatches me to East Side Pockets, a Syrian sandwich shop located on Thayer Street. Ross wants a chicken falafel combo-pocket on a wheat wrap, with everything but pickles, and extra hot sauce. I tell the owner that it’s for my red-headed son who’s laid up at home. He recognizes I’m talking about Ross and tosses in some free baklava for dessert. After four years at Brown, Ross knows all the right people.
3:00pm– After waking up from joint two-hour naps, Ross and I make plans for Friday night. (We can’t get too crazy—several of his housemates have finals tomorrow. Yes, a Saturday). I suggest I’ll spring for pizza and beer for the house while watching the NBA playoffs. Ross concurs, though he informs me his stomach is starting to feel a little queasy.
5:00pm– I check-in online for tomorrow morning’s 6:00am United Airlines flight from Boston to San Francisco. I’m scheduled to conduct a huge charity auction Saturday night, and I can’t miss it. My plan is to get a few hours of sleep, wake up at 3:00am, and drive to Boston’s Logan Airport. Ross informs me he now has a nagging headache to go along with his worsening stomach ache. Hmmm.
7:00pm– I head out to pick up the pizzas. Ross informs me his head and stomach ache have doubled in intensity. Double hmmm.
7:30pm– I return with the pizzas. Ross informs me his head and stomach ache have doubled in intensity since I left. Triple hmmm.
7:31pm– WE'RE OUT OF HERE. I Google the nearest Emergency Room.
7:35pm– Google Maps sends me to Butler Hospital. After turning into the entrance, I find it odd that the long and winding road leading to the actual hospital building is loaded with speed bumps, and surrounded by rolling lawns and green trees. “What kind of hospital is this?” I ask Ross, who’s turning greener by the second. I finally get to the front door. Butler Hospital is a psychiatric hospital. Oops.
7:40pm– “Try Miriam Hospital,” Ross utters above a whisper. We’re there minutes later. Ross is handed an empty bag; he hands it back full. Doctors decide a painkilling combination of Percocet and Oxycontin is a prescription better suited for an elephant, not a college student. Four hours and an IV cocktail later, Ross is released.
Midnight– Ross rejoins his housemates and kicks them off the sofa. He skips the pizza and dives into some yogurt, toast, granola, peanut butter and sugarless jam. We all stay up until 1:30am watching the Warriors thump the Spurs. Watching televised sports in the Pacific Time Zone is so underrated.
2:00am– I say goodnight to Ross and hit the road for Boston. One of the toughest exits of my life.
6:00am– Wheels up from Boston. I shut my eyes and wakeup somewhere over Nebraska.
p.s. Ross scored an “A” on his Corporate Strategy final. Must have been the Percocet.
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