And then they rode away on their segways

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Soccer camp is wearing me out. Just imagine if I was actually the one playing soccer for four hours a day every day in the Texas heat.

The good news is that Caroline is loving every minute of it and I haven’t had one moment where I’ve had to convince her that she needs to go. In fact, she wakes up ready to throw on her shinguards and cleats and head out the door. Which I’m 84% sure isn’t from my side of the gene pool. She even said after last night’s session that it might have been the “best day of her life”.

And I think we all know by now that no one in my family is prone to overstating things for dramatic purposes.

It’s just something we would NEVER, EVER do in a MILLION years.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Shuttling Caroline back and forth to Ellis Field and trying not to have a heat stroke. We’ve also managed to swim at Adamson Lagoon and eat barbecued chicken pizza at Cafe Eccell which was every bit as good as I remembered it being. And then P got in town tonight and felt like it was important for him to get some Buffalo Wings from Wings ‘N More.

I’ve tried to spend at least a little bit of time in the mornings at the Starbucks right by campus trying to edit my next book. It’s there that I’ve discovered that I no longer resemble a college student in any way because they are mere baby-faced infants that walk around like they are grown ups. Their unlined skin alone is enough to make me want to weep and grab them all by the shoulders and tell them that even though picking up a Route 44 Cherry Vanilla Coke from Sonic and spending all day by the pool with no sunscreen seems like a good idea? It’s not.

I mean yes, by all means spend your days by the pool while you can, but remember a hat and some SPF 50.

Last night Gulley’s son, Will, went with me to watch Caroline during the evening session of camp. On the way there he asked, “Mel, is that girl on the cover of Sparkly Green Earrings supposed to be Caroline?”

I said, “Yes. It’s supposed to be her. You know the cover of my next book is going to have an antelope on it. Isn’t that cool?”

Will thought for a minute and replied, “I like that. You know what? I’m going to tell all the men in my class next year that they need to read your new book. I’ll tell them it’s all about marriage and they need to learn about that in case they want to get married all day.”

Yes. I’m sure all the “men” in his third grade class will be beside themselves to read about marriage.

I smiled and responded, “Thanks, Will! That’s so sweet.”

And he said, “Well, a lot of guys in my class don’t think about dating at all. They just care about sports and video games.”

Just like most men in their twenties and thirties.

So I asked the million dollar question, “Will, do you think a lot about dating?”

“Well sure I do, Mel. You have to think about it because you never know when one of these girls is going to turn out to be beautiful.”

Listen. That is some wisdom that is going to serve him well over the next twenty years. Even though Gulley told me it frightens her a little that he’s obviously put so much thought into it.

Anyway, we finished our discussion as we walked up to watch Caroline play soccer. And then it was eventually time to head home. Which is when we walked out to my car to discover I had gotten a parking ticket from the University Police or “UPD” as I have always referred to them.

Here’s where I need to tell you that it’s possible I owe upwards of $200 in outstanding parking tickets from when I was a student at A&M. And it honestly wasn’t totally my fault because parking was atrocious. This was way before there were parking garages everywhere and sometimes you just had to make due. And the UPD had no sense of humor about it. They weren’t familiar with grace and mercy. In fact, one time Gulley had just run in a building long enough to turn in a term paper and came out to find a UPD officer by her car. She begged him to not write a ticket and said she was leaving RIGHT THEN. But he wasn’t going to budge and so she jumped in her Pontiac Sunbird and drove off leaving him standing there with his ticket pad. Like a scene out of Smokey and the Bandit.

Occasionally, my dad will still receive notices about my outstanding parking tickets with a warning that they won’t release my transcript to me if I need it. This is kind of an empty threat because how much do you really need to show your transcript more than twenty years after graduation? So naturally I immediately called him to let him know that some things never change and that after less than 48 hours of being back on campus, I’d received a parking ticket.

After he quit laughing at me (or with me) he told me that it’s a good thing they didn’t know who that car belonged to or it might have ended up with one of those boots on it. Or at the impound lot.

My friend Meredith also got a ticket that night and, since she is a law-abiding citizen, chose to go visit the UPD office to get a form to appeal the ticket in light of the fact we didn’t know we needed a permit to park in that lot. This is in contrast to the way I handled it which was to tear the ticket up.

But Mer purchased a permit for both of us so we can remain ticket-free for the rest of the week. And she also brought me an appeal form in case I want to appeal my ticket. Best of all, she managed to get me a ballpoint pen that says, “Texas A&M Transportation Services.” I will treasure it always and show it to people in lieu of my college transcript.

Best of all, we feel that we both now have something in common with Johnny Manziel besides the obvious things like speed, agility, and the ability to complete 94% of our passes blindfolded. We all share a talent for parking in the wrong place.

Except my parking ticket didn’t make me tired of College Station. It just felt like a visit from an old friend.

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  1. says

    This made me so happy: “I will treasure it always and show it to people in lieu of my college transcript.”

    And listen. When I was at State, my car considered the boot its most favorite accessory. The UPD didn’t mess around. Whether you owed them $5 or $500, they would slap that boot on your car until you ponied up. IN CASH, no less.

  2. Bobbie Lutz says

    Welcome Home! I’m sorry ’bout your parking ticket… but some memories of the good Ol days shouldn’t be forgotten!! LOL I drive on campus on a daily basis and watch the UPD giving tickets! Seems like no matter how many garages they add, there’s never enough! Have you tried “Fuego” since you’ve been back…if not, you should…they have the best Queso Blanco and awesome tacos! It’s a one of a kind taco bar. Yummy breakfast tacos too! Enjoy the rest of your visit!

  3. Cath says

    Enjoy your blog. However, hope you reconsider your past due parking tickets and decide to pay what you owe. Try to teach my son not to ignore debts and accept consequences of your actions…why not just pay the fines?

  4. says

    I wanted to apply for teaching jobs & get certified to teach so I had to get all those niggling little thing like parking tickets (we called them Parking Nazis in our day) clears up. I’ve probably paid a fortune in transcript fees. BTW, are the tickets still in yellow envelopes?

    PS. Yes, they can find who you are, they’re a state system, they search the VIN & see the name on the title. I parked my mom’s car illegally once, got a ticket, figured they’d never know it was really a student, it wound upon my record & this was in the 90s.

    • Callie says

      No, they’re little receipt looking things. Totally measly and easy to miss on your windshield. That’s why I liked to pretend I missed them and throw them away. But those dad gum UPD punks could somehow figure out it was my car and charge my account. Bummer! I just had to pay them all to send my final transcript to grad school. But even with the parking garages, sometimes you just have to park somewhere illegally you know? Aggies don’t lie cheat or steal, but they do park in reserved areas :)

  5. Ash says

    You are too funny! The part about Gulley hopping in her car and speeding away from the UPD had me laughing so hard that I was crying. Hilarious!

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who wound up getting more than her fair share of parking tickets during college. I used to be embarrassed about it, but now I realize that I’m in good company. :)

  6. says

    Love Will’s perspective on dating, good for him and the girl he ends up dating. You know, in 15 years, when he’s allowed.

  7. Kristin says

    Ugh the UPD here are the worst! I managed to get a ticket IN THE NORTHSIDE PARKING GARAGE no less on graduation weekend. There was no way I was going to give them anymore of my money. It was a matter of principle…..until I changed schools and my new district required a copy. Hardest $30-something dollars I had to shell out.

    On a side note – Mugwalls has excellent coffee! It’s in the same shopping center as The Tap on Harvey.

  8. says

    You could use the favorite method of my alma mater which is take the parking ticket off someone else’s car and put it on your own so that the UPD wouldn’t ticket you. Too bad the previously ticketed person now has no idea they had a ticket, which does not bode well when they get a boot for their SECOND ticket.

    It’s the SEC, known only for their upstanding morals and class.

  9. Erin says

    Well, I didn’t intend to make 3 comments, but somehow I submitted that ^ one (jokes; I love Gulley) before I finished. I can’t even begin to tell you all of my parking shenanigans. We just don’t have that kind of time. Let’s just say I have Googled “arrest warrant for university parking” before. You know, just to stay abreast of the laws and such… for trivia purposes.

    I love Will. He is wise beyond his years and Gulley could probably put him on the single men’s retreat speaking circuit to share the gems he has rattling around up there that he’s yet to share. I know some gents who could stand a Come to Jesus by someone who can’t even drive.

  10. says

    I feel your college campus parking pain. I graduated from college 2 years ago. You can’t even park in a metered visitor spot without a visitors pass. You’re already paying them, yet you can still get a ticket. Dumb. And they haven’t gotten on the parking garage bandwagon, because of the claim that it would hurt the tailgating experience during football season. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the football and the tailgating (64 Day, 22 hours, 23 minutes until kickoff). However, it’s a long walk from the parking lots that just keep getting farther out and buildings are built in existing ones. They have also gotten a little smarter, they won’t give you your diploma with any outstanding parking tickets.

  11. honey says

    Big and I have been reading this and laughing hysterically. You always make me smile!

  12. Laura B says

    “You never know which one of these girls is going to turn out to be beautiful”. So true! That young man will be just fine. And as I tell my girls…go for the nerdy, smart guy. One day he is lanky, awkward and with glasses. The next day he is Superman. Or my husband.

  13. says

    Love this! I can totally relate to the tickets, except I was at ACU. Campus police are kind of a joke. I hope no campus police are reading this comment. And as for Mr. Will, he is going to make a fine husband someday. :)

  14. says

    My daughter’s roommate received a ticket from a bicycle UPD while at A&M. She apparently rolled through a stop sign. My daughter could never understand how she let him catch her.

  15. Megan says

    I convinced my parents in college that every year there was a $200 fee owed to UPD that everyone had to pay… only really those were all of my tickets. Who wants to park in Egypt when the loading zone is oh so close to the building!

  16. Strawberryrose says

    My college roommate managed to get a parking ticket even though she had the proper tag displayed and was in the correct parking lot. She appealed that ticket. The tickets were bright orange. Shortly after she got her ticket, I happened to have a bright orange flyer in my purse. I folded it up and put it under her windshield wiper with a note that her “ticket” was from me. She came out of class and when she saw it, she couldn’t believe she got another ticket. “Are you kidding me?” She thought it was hilarious when she saw the “ticket” was from me. Glad y’all are having fun!

  17. says

    Loved today’s post – the conversation with Will was hysterical and your parking ticket story – great stuff!

  18. says

    Love it! Thanks for the laugh and thanks for being your self and sharing it with the rest of us. You are just sayin’ what we’re all thinkin’!

  19. Nikki H says

    I saved myself a ton of parking fees my last year in college by parking at the athletic training facility. It was near the gym and education building, which is where my classes were. I guess they figured I was some football or basketball player who was getting treatment. Who knew?

  20. says

    Ahh the days of parking at A&M. Luckily I had a friend that worked in the UPD office and he would delete my tickets out of the computer system!

  21. Tam says

    I am on the faculty of a university whose UPD operates at a level of such raw efficiency that I wonder if we shouldn’t elect them to Congress. They would get something done, and quickly. If anyone is wondering, the faculty are treated EXACTLY the same way as the students and visitors.

    As an undergrad, my degree was withheld due to unpaid parking tickets. Curious in light of the fact that I did not own a car. I had to drive 200 miles to go the the registrar’s office to plead my case. Ridiculous!

  22. Casey says

    I owed nearly 500 when I graduated. I fought as much as I could…as I wrote the check. The argument was provide enough spots and we won’t park in the yellow zones. Now finally years later it is much better but I still shake in terror when I pull into a space.

  23. Terri says

    I was laughing so hard at this that I had tears in my eyes. Thanks for the feel good endorphins.
    I remember back in my days at A&M, I came out of class to a red and blue lot to find a UPD officer diligently ticketing every red car in the lot. When I pointed out the sign to him that said it was okay to park there, he just shrugged and walked away leaving all those tickets in place. Oh the efficiency of the UPD.

  24. Christa says

    I worked in probation and parole and had co-workers have warrants issued due to their parking tickets not being paid! I have always been super law abiding, might have to do with the profession I chose, so was appalled they did not pay them. Needless to say when our supervisor found out, they got it done! Our parking ws terrible too and yes, you could be in court run down 5 flights and get there as it was being entered and no mercy AT ALL! It is the City that tickets and up to $17!

  25. says

    Even when I waddled my 8-months-pregnant-self in to protest a parking ticket at A&M, I got no sympathy. I’m glad (?) to hear that 26 years later, nothing has changed. (I also remember when we girls in the Commons would “donate” our parking permit to some deserving young man AND how *awesome* it was when dh and I lived in Southside Married Student Housing because on game days, we got to invite our friends and family to park at our apartment, right next to Kyle Field–we were very popular.)

  26. Tina says

    Love this post!!! I worked at a certain “Southern” university that happens to be of the Methodist persuasion right in the middle of Highland Park, somewhere in Dallas :) whose UPD is brutal!!!! I had to drive my dads truck for several weeks. You are supposed to pay for your parking in the transportation office and they load it on your ID card so you can access the parking garage. Well, my friend was taking the DART train, and didn’t use her badge for parking (her’s was paid for by her department), so I would use her code to get into the garage. Well, they apparently frown on that practice. because I ended up with over $75 in parking fees. And they will charge it to your account, and you can’t get away with not paying. Seriously though, I think if you attend school or work there, you shouldn’t have to pay for parking since you have to be there.

  27. says

    It’s just like this post, that’s just like your book, that make me laugh.out.loud! Love everything about the conversation with Will! Ha! And, my oh my! I don’t miss the Texas heat, back from when I was a Baylor girl (Sic Em), but today may rival that here–and we’ll be at the longest swim meet there ever was. Except I won’t be in the water–just my little boy! Bummer!!!!

  28. terrimc says

    Ticket shmicket- my husband made me pay mine just because HE was a student. Plus you know all that cult stuff about lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate… whatever. Look, it’s a lonnnggg walk to beautiful Olsen from just about anywhere…ya know?

  29. says

    I love that someone in the comments is asking you to pay those fines- makes me giggle :).
    I went to a tiny baptist university in east TX & our “upd” was actually 2 angry male students with control issues driving around in a golf cart. They were just loverly to encounter.

  30. Susan says

    DO THEY NEVER GIVE UP????? Rumor had it that the wrought iron fence that surround the
    school (coming north on 6, by the golf course, and polo field) was subsidized by parking tickets. If this is the truth, I guarantee I funded at least an 1/2 mile of the fencing!!!!
    Due, to the fact that, I, was towed off twice. I, truly thought that the parking lot outside of
    Harrington, was meant for my yellow Cutlass. I knew the private code, so where was the problem???? Very convenient, and a time saver at that!
    About $350 in fines if I wanted to graduate. It. was. a. hard. call. home.

    Gig’em AGGS

  31. says

    I once needed a copy of my undergraduate transcript and was told I had an outstanding balance that needed to be paid. I asked what the fine was for (I had my share of parking tickets, too, but I knew that those were all taken care of). Seems as though when I worked at the library on campus–my ID badge was a hot commodity. That little piece of plastic with the old-school-label-maker-tape stuck on it (remember that? the kind that made the raised letters?), that did nothing but clip to your shirt pocket (no magnetic strip or anything!)…..was worth a $5 fee. FIVE DOLLARS. On my account. Holding my transcript hostage. I talked to the director of the library who said, “If you send it back, we’ll waive the fee.” I promised to do so, she talked to the registrar and viola! Transcript received. However…..I must have gotten side tracked, because years later I found that name badge. I decided that technology has come a long way since 1995 and therefore, they probably don’t need it back.

  32. says

    I just have to tell you this although it has NOTHING to do with soccer camp. ???? We are driving from Katy to Fort Worth and I got your book in audio form so my husband and I could listen to it (and stay awake!) on the journey. After stopping in College Station for supper, he asked if we could put that book, “Fried Green Emeralds” back on. I died laughing and HAD to tell you!

  33. ginny says

    I don’t know what I love more, when you start off with just the word “Y’all” or that someone tried to persuade you to pay the tickets!

    PS just got my first Fashion Friday in! The Orange chevron maxi from pipeline. If you didn’t order it you definitely should. As an added bonus it makes you look like a size nothing!!

  34. Susan says

    Ohmyword parking at A&M!!! My mom would be horrified at my parking space finding technique back then! I would cruise the parking lot and hang out right at the entry closest to campus…as people would walk out from classes I would ask them if they wanted a ride to their car and then would let them off a few spaces away so I could get their space!