Monday, May 18, 2015

Growing Up In the Race Divide (part 6a)

Wow! A new part! And a less serious part, just to give a bit of a break from all of the heaviness around here, lately.

In the summer of 1985, I went to a youth conference in Washington D.C. with my friend Bob (which I talked about some here, but that is a heavy post, so be aware before you click through). One thing I didn't mention in that other post is that we had to have a chaperon in order to be able to go since we were only 15. We were already hitching a ride with a group from Texas just to be able to go, but we had to provide our own chaperon, which was almost a sticking point for us, because we couldn't find anyone in our church willing to go with us even though the church was willing to foot the bill for the trip for the chaperon.

So I had to get ingenious. We'd been to summer camp a few weeks before the D.C. trip and had met a college guy there. He was between his freshman and sophomore years, too, just Texas A&M instead of high school. Jeff was one of those charismatic guys whom everyone loves right away, and he was also from Shreveport, so I gave him a call and asked him if he wanted to go on a free trip to Washington D.C.

Now, I want to make one thing really clear, here: We liked Jeff, but we didn't really know Jeff. But the church okay'd him to go with us as chaperon, anyway. Of course, I did a lot of convincing, both to get Jeff to go (Because I had to convince him to go on a FREE! trip to D.C.! What the heck?) and to get them to let him go.

Another thing: Jeff's family was rich. Not only was his family rich, but he was rich. When he was around 10 or 12, he'd written (put together) a book of Aggie jokes that had become a bestseller (I have a copy somewhere). The royalties had all gone into a trust fund that he had received when he turned 18, several hundred thousand dollars. He had a Camaro with a TV and VCR that came out of the glove compartment area and was really only good for the driver. Having been a passenger in that car, I can tell you that the TV was not viewable by anyone else. That car was the first thing he spent his joke book money on.

Of course, there's a lot more to all of this, but it's not the actual story. I just need you to know enough about Jeff so that you have an idea of what's going on.

And there was a girl. Because there's always a girl.

I don't remember exactly how we met the girl except that it had to do with a screw up with the hotel. The hotel we were supposed to stay in had overbooked and, since our little trio wasn't really apart of the group we were supposed to be with [And we were, actually, supposed to be with that group, which is probably part of why my church let Jeff go with us. You know, how much trouble could we possibly get into when we would be with this other youth group?], they peeled us off and sent us to a different hotel. A swanky hotel a block from the Capitol Building. You know, one of those hotels that puts mints on your pillows every morning after they came in and cleaned your room. In fact, we could look out our window and see the Capitol Building up at the end of the street.

That's where we met the girl. Probably during check in, because she was attached to us almost the entire trip. No, I don't know whom she was supposed to be with. No one ever came looking for her. She was, maybe, a year older than Bob and me. Bob had a big crush on her, and she had a big crush on Jeff. To his credit, Jeff wasn't interested.

Fun fact:
The hotel the rest of "our group" was supposed to stay in had a fire the morning after we arrived, and they got shuffled out to various budget motels on the outskirts of D.C. None of them were very happy with us when we'd run into them. They had to get up super early to get bused to the convention center, no one cleaned their rooms, and they didn't get mints. Not only did we get mints, but we were able to just catch the Metro to the convention center; it took no time at all. In fact, the longest part of the trip was waiting for the hotel elevator.

Speaking of elevators... Well, let's just say that what happens in elevators doesn't always stay in elevators. But you'll have to find out about that next week.


  1. Replies
    1. JKIR,F!: Yeah, we did. I just didn't really realize it at the time.

  2. You lucked out with the hotel situation. And who would say no to a free trip to DC? Everyone should go at least once.

    1. Alex C: I don't remember why he need to be convinced. It wasn't his first time to go, so, maybe, he just wasn't feeling compelled.

  3. I got totally distracted in this segment by Jeff and his book and his damn trust fund. How cool is that for him. How sucky that kind of book generates that much money while other better books come up empty handed.

    A joke book...that's a laugh, but, hey, if it's marketable and makes money who am I to knock anyone's success.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Road trippin' with A to Z
    Tossing It Out

    1. Lee: At the time, being 15, I thought it was so cool. Later, when I found a copy of the book at some used book store, I was less impressed.

  4. I can't imagine why the driver of a car would need a TV and a VCR. But the trip sounds awesome. I've never stayed at a hotel where you get mints on the pillow.

    1. Jeanne: It was a status thing more than anything. "Look! MY car has a TV AND a VCR in it."
      The trip was awesome.

  5. That sounds like a cool trip. I read your post about Bob taking his own life. I have to say that sometimes people can't find any help, no matter how hard they try.


    1. Janie: That may be true. Most people probably don't understand how to listen.

    2. They say, Snap out of it. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Do volunteer work.

      Depression is not that easy to fix.

      A number of people accused Robin Williams of selfishness after he killed himself. I feel quite certain that he thought he was saving them from his problems and unhappiness.

    3. Janie: Yeah, that's true. It's like when adults tell teenagers they're not really in love.