Freshman Daughter, Freshman Dad

By Larry Druckenbrod

As his only child embarks on her collegiate journey, a freshman parent chronicles the experience—40 years on from his own days as a college freshman. Larry Druckenbrod is also assistant director of Career Services.

I’m Down With That

Valkyrie called and asked for a ride to the bank.  Ok.  This is good.  She is still calling me, and better yet, she actually wants to take money out of her checking account, and not mine. Don’t know how this happened but I’m not about to jinx myself by talking too much about it.

So, we’re driving back from Tolland, having caught up on our worlds in 20 minutes, and I throw the Adele 21 CD in, my latest Ebay purchase.  “You like Adele?” she says as she kind of scrunches up her face at me.  “Oh, I’m down with that” I coolly reply.    “Down?”………Dad, don’t say that.”            “Oh……ok” I un-coolly reply.  (Adele Youtube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa_k-dY_L7c)

I liked that she called me though, and we were spending a little time together.  She called me again when I was making a presentation to Steve Parks’ “Pirates of the Caribbean Class.”  The timing for my presentation couldn’t have been better.  International “Talk Like a Pirate Day” was the day before, and, also on that day 15 members of the Pirate Party won government seats in Germany.  So I came to the class prepared.  I was so down with the Pirate stuff.  Oh, I mean, I was “on top” of it.

This is one of the many very cool First Year Experience (http://fye.uconn.edu) courses where first semester students balance information about the University (that’s why I was there) and develop a skill (researching and writing about Pirates).  These classes were designed to provide first years with the tools they need to be successful during their college experience.

So, when I arrived, I had a list of the top ten Pirates; knew some Pirate language; and could expound upon international politics, while dutifully informing them that the job market still stinks and sharing ideas on how they, freshmen, could get involved through participation in student groups and internships.  And if they didn’t get involved, they weren’t getting jobs when they graduated.  Therefore, becoming a Pirate in Somalia might be one of their only choices.  Argh  Argh Argh.

Pirates by the way don’t have much in their lexicon.  Beyond their throaty argh argh argh laughter, I think it’s laughter, they only say “shiver me timbers”, “avast ye mateys”, and “walk the plank”.  Oh, they say “prepare to be boarded” too, I think.  If you know some other Pirate talk, tell me in the comment section.

For my opening gambit, I had a magic trick where I would read their minds and pick out someone’s cell number, and, my opening trivia question was “Who is the most famous American Pirate?”  No one knew the answer to this of course, and I love this part, because the most famous American Pirate is….Honus Wagner!  That’s right, the Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Pirate whose baseball card sold for $5 million last year.  They got a kick out of it.

Then I told them to think about their cell number and I would read someone’s mind and call them, right there in class.  I closed my eyes and put a look of deep concentration on my face.  I opened my eyes.  Silence and anticipation.  I took the cell out of my pocket.  I scanned the crowd.  My phone starts ringing!  What the heck is this?  Could someone in the class have read my mind?

“Hi dad.  I’m outside your building.  Can you look out your window and wave to me?”

I’m so down with that.

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