Top pic-me at a party on Mifflin St on Saturday after a “rare” Friday night party. Bottom pic, me and my roomie in our sophomore dorm room. The wood behind us is the legs of our loft beds. Cool!
This time of the year we all start hearing about Back to School. Teachers lamenting that their summers are over, school supplies in the sales flyers, and sport training starts to ramp up. I too am going back to school, but only to visit. I am going back to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, my alma mater, for the first time since I graduated in 1992. Thinking about the trip made me reminisce about my time in college, and I thought I would share some memories:
• I went through all 4 years of college without a computer of my own and cell phones didn’t even exist.
• The first year or so of college you registered for class by actually walking to the building, standing in line, and a person with a piece of paper told you if there was room left. Getting into a popular class required running (like getting first row at a general admission concert) and early arrival. I recall getting a confirmation in the mail of the classes I signed up for.
• Subsequently we registered for classes by phone – one that was connected to a wall with a cord.
• I had the same roommate for all 4 years – 2 years in the dorms, and 2 years in a one bedroom apartment. We are friends to this day and I am grateful I didn’t have any of that roommate drama!
• We were in co-ed dorm, but our friends were in an all-girl dorm. Benefits of an all-girl dorm: 1) it had its own cafeteria; 2) quieter for studying; and 3) we could get away with more outrageous partying because it wasn’t expected. No one seemed to question when we kept throwing a coconut on the floor of the common room to try to bust it open to add it to the alcohol punch we were making in a Rubbermaid tub big enough to hold a human. Why a coconut? Good question. I have no idea.
• As I mentioned, my roommate and I lived for 2 years in a one bedroom apartment on the outskirts of campus and I think we paid about $400/month. If I spread my arms wide enough I could touch both ends of the kitchen, the bathroom was just a hair bigger than a closet, and we had enough room for 2 twin beds and maybe 2 dressers in the bedroom. What we did with our clothes I cannot remember. I am sure she does – she remembers everything (shout out to my roomie, R).
• The first 2 years weekends were spent doing what most college kids do – finding parties and drinking disgusting beer. There was no app for that back then. You heard something from one person who heard it from another, you found a flier. We actually ripped the map out of a yellow pages (remember those?) to guide us to addresses.
• Walking to parties was always an adventure, so we made up a song to the tune of “Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees!” but we made it “Hey, Hey We’re the Drunkards!” Or another song of choice was “Paul Revere” by the Beastie Boys. Mind you this was on the WAY to the party.
• We listened to songs like Supersonic, Humpty Dance and Funky Cold Medina. Probably on cassette.
• I had a lab on Friday – once. I learned that Friday classes were to be avoided as Thursday was a monumental party day. As was Saturday. With maybe a Friday thrown in once in a while.
• I was pre-med for 2 years when I decided to change my major for 2 reasons: calculus and organic chemistry. I was a straight A student in high school, so getting anything below an A was foreign and downright devastating. So out went my dream of being a coroner, and I entered a new field – psychology. Apparently all that partying convinced me that more drug and alcohol counselors were needed. My new dream was to work at the Betty Ford Clinic.
• The last 2 years I went home just about every weekend to watch heavy metal bands play in the bars and spend time with my good friend G. I still did not have a car so I took the Badger bus back and forth—I think it was $20 round trip.
• I graduated from college and realized I could not make any money being a counselor. I had a weekend job at a bank so I stayed in banking and have been in the financial arena ever since.
So those are a few of the memories I have about my time at a school that still ranks in the top 10 of party schools. I can’t wait to get back there and see how much it changed—and what has stayed the same. I plan on sipping on some beers (just a bit more responsibly) and maybe even humming a little ditty…”Here’s a little story, I’ve got to tell about three bad brothers you know so well…”