This week many Americans will drop sons and daughters off for their freshman year of college. The partings will be emotional; tearful mothers and fathers, sons and daughters fighting back outward signs of impatience as they whine inwardly “When are they ever going to LEAVE?”
In the final few moments as moms and dads hug their children for the last time until parents’ weekend a month from now, they will frequently be too choked up to communicate the wisdom they accumulated as college students many years ago. It is for this reason that I take to the internet waves at this time of year to pass on lessons I learned at great cost, but which I offer to readers without charge. And they’re worth every penny of it.
Such as, if you take the same course twice taught by a different professor each time, you will probably get a better grade the second time. Seriously. It helps your GPA.
“You got into Northwestern? But this is Boston!”
But there is more to life than the spiritual and intellectual aspects of our existence. There are also the mundane physical remnants of my college days, which I have lovingly preserved since that day in 1969 when I matriculated all over my college campus because the bathrooms weren’t ready yet. Here are a few of the artifacts that I have available to bequeath to impressionable college freshman.
This thing is like wicked fast.
Smith-Corona Manual Typewriter: A lot of kids aren’t ready for an electric model yet. I know too many young men and women who have taken a high-powered electric typewriter out for a spin on a Saturday night after a long week of classes only to crash into a carrel at the library, killing paperback copies of The Importance of Being Earnest and Plato’s Republic. Which are available in Books-on-Tape format, by the way.
Frye boots. Everybody will be wearing these when you get to school. Seriously. I mean, everybody who was anybody wore them in the fall of 1969. I didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there, as your Intro to Philosophy professor will soon say when you hold up your hand and say “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion.”
You’re not listening, are you?
8-Track, multi-LP stereo system. This is a somewhat delicate subject. Your parents understand that dormitories are now “co-ed,” and when your roommate is out of town for the Interscholastic Parcheesi Sectional Tournament you will have the place all to yourself for several days. When that happens, you can stack up to four LP’s on the spindle of this baby, and let nature take its course. When the last one drops and you’ve heard Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels sing “Devil With the Blue Dress On” forty-two times in succession, it’s time to go to class.
My albums. I can’t tell you how cool my album collection is. Was. Back when. As a matter of fact, I have albums by groups you’ve never even heard of. Like “Poco,” which was a spin-off from, uh, The Buffalo Springfield. I think. What do you mean, are they available in MP3 format? Do you mean the MC5–like “Kick Out the Jams”?
I’m giving you my well-thumbed copies of Thus Spake Zarathustra (Nietzsche), Being and Time (Heidegger), and Experience and Judgment (Husserl) with this admonition: If it sounds like a sneeze, don’t take the course.