I thought that it would be weird and awkward to be a 42-year-old man headed back to a college campus. The kids would look at me and wondered where I went wrong in my life and how can they avoid those mistakes. Then they would run back to their dorms and check the sexual offender website.
Turns out I was right. It is awkward as fuck. It's good to know that the 5 years I spent in college could prepare me for later in life to walk around college. Good times.
But as I walked around the campus, something new came to me. I don't much care. I live in the world of awkward. By this time, I have made awkward my best friend. I've run into a women's restroom with my daughter, used it and made eye contact on the way out. If I was in North Carolina I would have been arrested. Awkward? I carpool with awkward.
Which brings me to something that I noticed about these poor college kids. I want to cut their hair and wash their dirty clothes. I went to the campus bookstore mainly because it was one of my favorite places when I was 20. The smell of new pens, a fancy notebook to take bio notes in. Buying a book for 80 bucks and then returning it so you would have beer money for the semester. I love the bookstore. Or I used to, now, screw that.
I am so sorry poor college kids, I had no idea. I picked up a Bio I book, pretty much the same one I had 20 years ago. 250 bucks. For a Bio I book? What the hell, man? No wonder you can't afford a haircut and some quarters to wash your skinny jeans. Jesus fucking Christ man. It's not like basic biology has changed a whole lot in 20 years. Worms, frogs, starfish, cats...pretty much the same. Except, apparently, you have to sell a kidney just to get the first chapter.
I don't want you guys to cut your hair. I want to now take you all to my house and make you a good hot meal. Look, I know that I'm a big bearded dude, but I'm also a dad. I can cook. Come over and I'll make you a nice big plate of spaghetti with a steak on the side. Then we can go out back and have a game of catch while I give you good fatherly advice like "The only thing worse than having regrets is not having any at all." I know, that's pretty good. I got a load of them. After your English class come on over and I'll tell them to you. Bring your laundry, I got you.
I'm not actually going back to college. I'm just taking a short night course. For the busy professional, etc etc etc. Mainly, I get to ditch my kids off with mom while I go learn how to be a better writer. It's a fun class and, hopefully, I'll learn the difference between a comma and a "what the fuck is that thing that always causes me so much trouble." Like spelling only without letters.
Writing can be a hard deal. Sometimes the inspiration comes and sometimes it locks itself away in the mind closet and won't come out until you confront your terror of Uncle Dave and his special cabin. Uncle Dave is in prison now. My aunts don't allow anyone to talk about that.
The class is good. When I walked in there was a section of grandmas, who shall now be referred to as the awesome grannies, that were just hamming it up. Loud, boisterous and without two shits to give at all. I love them.
They make it easy. Sometimes it's tough to talk about what I write because it just sounds artsy, so oh, look at me and my art. I'm wearing black and smoking black cigarettes and have a soul patch. But with the grannies, they make it easy enough to open up about anything, even Uncle Dave.
I sat down to watch the performance by the awesome grannies while we all waited for our teacher. She came in and greeted the class. She seemed like a nice lady like she knows her shit and I dig that. That's what I need. I need someone to teach me to write better than a 4th grader.
But she looked familiar. I'm at a local community college so it's possible that I've run into her somewhere.
She says welcome to the class and gives her background. Degrees, experience, a sense of humor. This is going to be good. She lets us then know her teaching credentials. She also teaches at the local elementary school.
Things start to click in my head. I know her. I've known here for a while. I've met her before.
I ask her which one. She gives the name of my kid's school.
And there it is. My teacher also teaches Little Hoss and her brother, Bubba Hoss. She has taught them for quite a while too. I didn't put it together at first because who would? She teaches art class to my kids. They have her every 3rd day. I know here name, I know where her classroom is, I've gotten emails from her.
And now she is going to teach me to be a better writer. This sounds like a Disney show. The first thing I thought when I realized who she was is that my writing is on par with my 11-year-old daughter, that's my baseline. I'm not in college, I'm in elementary. But after spellchecking this thing, that's probably a good baseline to start from. She told us to call her by her first name. Can't do it, nope, just can't do it. There's a mental block in there that wouldn't let me. And now she is going to read my writing. What if I have to write a sex scene???
This is how you make best friends with awkward.