THE PROFESSOR SPEAKS
It’s Saturday morning, and the Texans have filled me with brisket as we’ve tried to outdo one another on who was more grateful, me (for being able to use their big and beautiful La Creuset pan for my chili project) or them (for the chili as well as for the onions, garlic, and peppers that I’ve provided them for their upcoming stir fry). I’ve had two chunks of sleep [first at the BLD last night and now back in my tent this morning] and once again I’m off on a few visits.
My first target is Camp Shaloha, where my favorite former student Daniel is camped. The thing is, he’s given me the address 8:45 and F, and they’re really at 8:29 and F, so it takes a while to find them as I ask everyone in the neighborhood*. The routine goes something like this:
ME: “Hey, do you know where Camp Shaloha is?”
YOU (face turning into a weird squint): “Shaloha?”
ME (trying to remain confident): “Yes, Shaloha – you know, ‘Hawaiians for Israel’ – their camp is supposed to be right here at 8:45 and F…”
YOU: “No idea, dude…”
After going through this a few dozen times, someone points out a high-flying Hawaiian flag over yonder just across 8:30, and sure enough there is Daniel’s camp. By this time, my feet are a total mess and every step hurts [Jewel eventually talks me into putting Duck Tape on my feet that night, which helped ease the pain though it eventually left its own weird scars], so I probably would have stayed even if they had given me the cold shoulder.
Instead, I was welcomed in and treated like a king.
[A few words about Daniel: he’s one of the favorite students I’ve had at SF State. When he first arrived in my statistics class, he had long wild hair and in many ways reminded me of a much younger and rawer version of Nate. He has managed to pull himself up from a screwed up family situation, which includes the recent death of his younger brother, a meth-addicted Mom, and a brilliant but largely absent father who had left him on his own at age 14 in Hawaii in the care of his high school basketball coach. Daniel subsequently took Operations Management with me during the Fall ’07 semester, and prior to the start of class he sent me an email saying that he would be returning to the Bay Area after Labor Day due to “family commitments” and could I please not drop him from the class? I knew he was at Burning Man (and I called him on it when we both returned to school, which created a great laugh for both of us) – and now that he had graduated I had been looking forward to hanging out with him on the playa.]
After I get a big hug from Daniel and give him some shit about the incorrect address (I mean, c’mon dude, it was wrong in the Center Camp reg system, it was wrong in the note that he left for me at my camp, and it was wrong when he told it to me the previous afternoon when he caught up with me in the 9:00 plaza), I hobble off barefoot (this felt better than my shoes at this point) to the portas and back, and then I simply collapse into a chair. Daniel introduces me to his friends, all in their 20s, and I simply began to talk…and talk…and talk…it is as if I had been magically transported to my own private seminar room with a dozen or so eager students sitting at my feet taking in the lessons. It is great that they all know who I was – Daniel has apparently talked me up as one of his favorite professors – and I think they all get a big kick out of the fact that I am right here on the playa with them (as opposed to off in a library or a coffeeshop or some such) – and I’m not sure what all say on this fine morning (they keep me pretty loaded the whole time) but they seem to really enjoy the visit. And they feed me all kinds of crazy good stuff (the highlight being a sandwich of marijuana-infused homemade honey butter) and even set up a vinegar water bath to help heal my aching feet and a frozen neck roll that magically keeps my whole body feeling cool.
What more could a guy ask for? If the wind doesn’t started blowing really hard all of a sudden, I probably end up sitting there all day…