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.