Monday, October 29, 2012

For $1,000, Curmudgeon gets a free lunch

I wrote a few months back about winning an award for my real-life blog (that is, the one I write in my actual name). Late last week I finally received my prize.

Well... actually... I didn't receive my prize -- nor was I supposed to.

All the famous journalists who won this prestigious award (and me, too) were supposed to designate a journalism school to receive a $1,000 award in our name.

At the time, Long Suffering Spouse was not pleased. "It's bad enough you have to buy a ticket to the lunch in order to get your award" -- noblesse oblige, I thought, but did not dare say aloud -- "and then your 'prize' is to give money to someone else?"

Well, um, yes, I said, quietly.

I actually had suggested the money be given to South Janesville College, where my tuition payments on Youngest Son's behalf have been chronically late -- but that suggestion was vetoed. There was no way for me to use the money for me or mine.

So, after thinking on it awhile, I decided that the money should go to my old college newspaper. The university I attended did not have a J-school, but we did have a school paper, and my time with the paper was one of the big highlights of my undergraduate career.

I sent the letter to the bar association (the group that made the award) and forgot all about it.

Forgot about it, that is, until about two weeks ago when, out of the blue, I got a letter from the Dean of the School of Communications at my old alma mater. (We didn't have a School of Communications when I went to college. There was a Communications Department. But that's inflation for you.)

Anyway, the Dean wrote to thank me for my generous gift and to invite me to lunch with at least a few of the kids who now run the school paper. The date for the luncheon was fixed for last Friday.

I had the happy inspiration to invite another lawyer along, one who'd been Editor-in-Chief of the paper a year or two after I graduated. He'd just won a big award from our college -- and I thought he'd make a much better role model for any impressionable youth we might happen to meet.

The Dean told me to meet him at the school at Noon. I and my companion were at the school at 12:00 noon on the dot.

The Dean wasn't there. He was already at the restaurant. Which restaurant? The receptionist wasn't certain; the Dean hadn't said. She went looking for the Dean's cellphone number.

"School of Communications," my companion said.

"Yeah," I said.

But the Dean was found eventually -- and that's when we found out that the Dean hadn't actually found any of our newspaper successors available for the occasion. We're not sure if he ever asked anyone.

Still, we repaired to a nice restaurant (which surprised me -- I was expecting a school cafeteria and had eaten my daily ration of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ahead of time accordingly) and, despite this inauspicious beginning, had a pleasant lunch (I had as little to eat as possible).

There was just one problem. My companion and I hadn't talked for some time. So we caught up a bit during lunch. And, given the reason for our being there together, we talked about former comrades on the newspaper, former teachers, former school administrators.

"Do you remember so-and-so?" my companion would say.

"I do," I'd say. "She died -- oh, my -- it must be 15 years ago now. But how about so-and-so?"

"So-and-so? I haven't thought of him in years. He died in the late 90s."

This went on and on, back and forth. A couple of times we'd come up with a name and the Dean would chime in. "Oh, I heard about him when I got here. He was famous. How did he die again?"

Not everyone we thought of was dead, of course. It just seemed that way. On the other hand, no one we mentioned was in prison. So that was cheery.

If ever there was an excuse for a three-martini lunch, this surely was it. But I couldn't imbibe. I had to leave work early Friday to get to a wake.



Steve Skinner said...

This is real life, you can't make this stuff up!

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

ummmm, congratulations???

smiles, bee