Monday, May 07, 2012

And An Alumni Dinner

After the bookfair was over, I had a little time to myself in Chicago. Very little, because I was cramming in a trip to the east coast, a Shimer dinner, and a Ninja Wedding (in roughly that order). So it was busy. The east coast trip was probably the easiest as it involved flying in, staying a night, and flying out. Things went smoothly and as expected. The most alarming part of the three events was the landing from the east coast, catching a cab, and going straight to the Shimer Alumni dinner.

It has been noted that I seem to fly in special for Shimer events, and that ends up being partially true. I couldn't help being there for Shimer things. The Boy was very attached to Shimer, I was very attached to the Boy, and when you had an invitation to an Alumni dinner coming up it seemed like the only thing you could do was say “Of course I want to go.”

The big thing was the planning, as my flight was set to land around 5:30 and the dinner started around 6:30. Figuring out how to get from the airport to the dinner was going to be the trick. My attitude was that it would be easiest to take a cab. The Boy wanted to give me a ride. We negotiated for a while and finally decided that it would be easiest for me to take a cab there and meet the Boy, who would then have time to attend Shimer graduation before the dinner.

This left me standing in an airport in Philly getting ready for a semi-fancy dinner. At least I wanted it to be semi-fancy. I had a nice black dress that I decided to bring with me. What I did not have were shoes. I did not have shoes, I did not have any accessories, and I did not have stockings. I had hoped to accomplish most, if not all, of these things from the road. However standing in an airport in Philly was the worst time to try to figure out how you are going to accessorize and be all fancy pants.

This ended badly, as it would have to, with me in a second-rate airport jewelry shop getting earnings, a bracelet, a necklace I would only wear once, some sandals (because I needed something, anything to wear with the dress), and in desperation some stockings. Everything ended up working our pretty wellexcept for the stockings, which shredded upon contact with the toes. I keep my toenails trim and I slid the damn things on properly so I knew that the problem was with the stockings. Why is it that they made these things, these entirely unnecessary nylons, out of material so cheap and so flimsy that they could not actually withstand being put to the use for which they were created? I was annoyed and frustrated, but in the end decided it was not a big deal as I didn’t really need them, and the sandals were fine.

Aside from a few stares on my way onto the plane for having unshaven legs (the horror), the flight was fairly unremarkable. The unshaven leg thing just amused me. I’d been trying to grow a proper combover on my legs for years, although the reality was my calves were so muscular that very little hair grew there anyway. But, that would never stop someone, somewhere, for thinking I could get it together a little bit more.

I landed at the airport feeling all fancy pants (except for my backpack), grabbed a cab, and headed toward the address for the Shimer Shindig, which was being held in some gallery on the north side of town. The place was fancy and I was glad I’d taken a little time to dress up. However, as I walked in I saw old-school Shimer graduate number one, from the 60’s era, outside, strumming on his guitar with the younger students crowded around listening. He wore a vest and old khakis, with his grey hair long and dangling down his back in a loose ponytail. It was perfect. It was Shimer.

One thing I have noted about Shimer is that no matter where we go, be it new campuses or fancy-pants galleries for dinners, we maintained a sense of who we are. I wasn’t the only person sporting piercings, nor was I the only once fancily dressed, but there were enough jeans, T-shirts, unwashed dyed hair, and random eclectic characters around to make it comfortable. To make it home. To make it Shimer.

I managed to meet the Boy when he finally found a place to park, and he hemmed and hawed a bit about being underdressed, which was silly. We found a nice table to sit at and I appreciated that he was treated a bit like Shimer royalty, being almost single-handedly responsible for rousing the rabble during the Civil War, and having since taken it upon himself to work, advertise, promote, and spread the word about the beauty of our little school. Dinner consisted of tasty food and wine, and listening to excellent, very Shimer speeches. The new presidenta real firebrandwas introduced to the Alumni to much appreciation. Alumni awards were passed out, hands were shaken, and old professors were greeted. There was love, Shimer love, and great conversation. It was everything you would expect a Shimer dinner to be, and I was quite glad I had a chance to go during my all-too-brief time in the U.S.

After that, the only thing left to conquer was the Ninja Wedding.

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