I'd seen a lot of things in the Maclab before: Snood junkies, nude computing, students hammered into ravening madness by deadlines, cheap stimulants and cheaper booze, and a programmed version of Jingle Bells as performed by the electronic screams of dying space warriors in the famed multiplayer shooter Marathon.
I had never, however, seen an angel in the Maclab.
This radiant creature was nonetheless present, accompanied by celestial harmonies and a burst of golden sunlight. She ...
... TALKED to me. About ... about all sorts of things. About my fabulous Hawaiian shirt - that's how I knew she had good taste. And the lua'au she had skipped out on - that's how I found out she had sterling countercultural values.
I must admit what I was a bit behind in the conversation, however. I was too busy being lost in her eyes.
|During Orientation week at New College my first year, there were a variety of events and activities. One of these was a "luau" (properly "lu'au") by the campus pool. I showed up to swim and in the hopes that the party might involve some kind of vague Hawai'ian theme. I was disappointed by the very non-tropical, non-Hawaiian rap music and the fact that no one else was in the pool. After maybe half an hour I put on some clothes and headed to the computer lab instead. It being college orientation week, I was making an extra effort to be sociable. Noticing a student in a vivdly colored tropical print Hawaiian shirt, I asked if he had been to the lu'au. He explained that he didn't usually go to those sorts of events, and I said that he wasn't missing much, and that I wished they'd played Hawaiian music and spelled lu'au correctly. So it wasn't exactly love at first sight, although he was very charming and obviously a fellow of good style.|
And then ... then I saw her AGAIN. And,
amazingly enough, she was struggling to tote some
insanely heavy parcel across rough ground. And
she was limping. And barefoot. And
trying to haul the thing across the scrub that used to
be in front of the Selby and Hansen buildings before
they were replaced with the monstrous Heiser complex.
And there was I, with my broad back and strong thews
being put to no good use at all. Ah, the chances for
chivalry are not to be missed, oui?|
The parcel turned out to be more computer paraphenilia she had received from home. Strange coincidence, given our earlier meeting. These machines, they are the ties that bind-nary. While less stalwart souls would have sought out the services of some four-wheeled motorized monstrosity to tote such a load, I was privileged to be in the presence of a doughty dame. I was, in a word, impressed. In fifteen words, I was weighted down with a heavy box of computer components and charmed and impressed.
|Julia:||No more than a few days later, I got a package slip. This was not unusual, as my family and I had flown down instead of driving, and so had shipped all of my belongings. I walked over to the package pick up room across campus, and to my mild alarm, found that the package was my computer monitor in a huge, heavy box. I was naturally unwilling to leave it there (and I didn't know any car drivers yet), so I hefted it up and began lugging it back to my room. It also happened that I was enjoying my new liberal/sub-urban/floridian surroundings by going barefoot. It also happened that some biology thesis students had taken a group of us to collect fish in lieu of the purported "beach clean up" and I, anticipating being on a beach rather than in a rocky cove, sliced open the sole of my right foot on a very sharp shell. SO I was barefoot, limping, and carrying an extremely heavy package. At this point Ryan noticed me from at least a 150 yards away, came directly over, and insisted on carrying the package. My knight in shining armor had arrived.|
After safe installment of the hefty informational
appliance, I was shown around her boudoir, and dazzled
by her learned conversation, dulcet grace, and amazing
array of books. There's no quicker way to my heart
than through the judicious display of a good-sized
shelf of books.|
With a bit of my notorious suaveity, I eventually persuaded her over to my pad for Pulp Fiction and lemon cookies. No woman throughout history could have hoped to resist the combined might of Samuel L. Jackson and Publix Lemon Cremes.
All this was but a mere prelude, however, to the Mote Expedition.
|Julia:||Thus it came to be that we talked to each other, and he learned where I lived, and we talked some more while I set up my computer. And in talking he found out that I hadn't seen "Pulp Fiction" yet and he brought me over to his room, and I learned where he lived, and we watched all of "Pulp Fiction" and he gave me lemon cookies and orange juice and we talked a little more. By then I knew that I liked him quite a lot.|
Do you know how easy it is to convince two people who
are not marathon hikers to walk almost seven miles
down a state highway and through a largely unfamiliar
Neither did I ... until I tried it. Damn, it was easy!
"Come along, my dear lady and my old chap [Andrew]! We'll have a jolly good time strolling along in this blazing heat to an aquarium on a faraway island which we seem to have a vague idea of how to reach and which may even be open or quite possibly not. It'll be great. Just try it."
They seemed a trifle hesitant at first, admittedly, but that was likely because they were blinded by the glare of the bright sun reflecting off my silver tongue.
|Julia:||A short while later, a broiling Friday afternoon, I had just gotten back from Russian I, my only class of the day. I was checking my mail and I ran into Ryan and Andrew, who were also done with classes for the day. We all began discussing what we ought to do with our day off. Ryan unexpectedly suggested going to a zoo. Andrew and I commented that we didn't know of any zoos in the area. I suggested Mote Marine Labs, but noted that none of us had a car. Ryan replied that cars weren't that big a deal, and we could walk. Andrew and I made some exclamations of incredulity, but I appended that I thought it sounded like a great deal of fun. We started walking south on highway 41.|
There is no better way to get to know a girl than to
walk along U.S. 41 in the bright sun of a free
afternoon, exploring and wondering and seeing dolphins
and eating ice cream and not particularly caring where
you end up.|
By a few short miles into the walk, of course, I did know where I wanted to end up.
Ahh ... l'amour.
|Julia:||It was in the upper 90s with high humidity. It was my first week of classes, and I was still quite unfamiliar with Sarasota. The trip seemed very long and full of new exotic things. We splashed in decorative fountains, and Ryan provided me with gems of Sarasota lore and rumor. While we walked along Bird Key we noticed dolphins in the bay--the first time I ever saw wild dolphins. We stopped under a tree and watched until they disappeared. It didn't take us long to realize that Mote Aquarium would be closed by the time we arrived, so we simply went to the circle. We loitered around Ben & Jerry's; Andrew bought ice cream, while the two of us, protesting poverty, made do with free taster sticks and water from the water fountain. We sat and talked some more before heading back on foot, this time towards mainstreet. Figuring we ought to do something after traveling so far, we ended up at the Hollywood 20 watching "Sixth Sense." It was dark by the time we left and we were very grateful to be picked up by a random car of New College students after only a few blocks. That day was when I knew I'd found someone especially special.|