Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Even More Summer of Bologna

Earlier this year I posted a story called Summer of Bologna, about my misadventures at geology summer field camp in Arkansas. As I read through the story again tonight, I remembered a couple of other things that happened to me that summer. Although funny now, they were not so funny then.

The man that taught the course, Dr. D, had brought along his wife and two children, and his two-year-old son Tommy was quite a handful. You may remember my mapping partner Roy. Our friendship went from good, to bad, to even worse before finally turning in the right direction. We were friends again by the end of our project and had borrowed the D’s tiny barbecue pit to grill a couple of steaks. It was the weekend; we had time off and a few extra bucks to purchase steaks, bakes and two six-packs of beer in a plastic cooler.

Dr. D had offered the use of his barbecue pit with the proviso that we would return it cleaner than we got it. No problem, we thought. That was before we began drinking beer and eating watermelon – yes we had also purchased a watermelon and had chilled it to perfection in the very chilly White River.

Our beer was half gone by the time we had eaten our steaks and started on the icy watermelon. It was about then that Dr. Ds son Tommy came running down the stairs. Feeling giddy, Roy spat a watermelon seed at him and it stuck on his bare chest. Maybe it doesn’t sound so funny now, but Roy and I had drunk just enough beer to think so. Between hysterical laughter, we both began spitting seeds at the kid.

At first, Tommy joined in the joke but soon realized that he was the butt of it. Covered with sticky watermelon seeds, he rushed back up the stairs, wailing like a banshee as he did. He soon returned with Dr. D. The Professor was not happy.

“Having a good time, boys?” he asked.

Dr. D’s question sent us both into a belly-rolling fit of laughter. Grabbing his tattle-tale kid by the hand, Dr. D did an angry about face and huffed away up the stairs. Too inebriated to clean the barbecue pit, we left it outside with the intention of cleaning it the next day. It rained that night, making a mess of the little stove. Tommy found it the next morning before Roy and I, getting soot and barbecue sauce all over his best Sunday church clothes.

Our good grades were already pretty much beyond hope. That is true, but one more incident occurred the last week of field camp that further sealed my fate. I had a cheap typewriter and I was using it to prepare my final report. It was so hot in the basement that I took the machine outside to a picnic table. After trying unsuccessfully to correctly seat the ribbon, I ripped it off the reel and threw it down the hill. Yes, you got it. Tommy found the ribbon. Covered with ink and wrapped in the inky tape, he was in a full-blown crying snit when he finally found his father.

Well, I passed the course anyway, albeit with a cee. Years later, I realize none of this story really matters.

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