Sunday, March 29, 2009

College Entrance





After the cascading disasters of that October - my beaver lodge burnt, someone walked off with my prosthetic legs , and then I got run down by a thief riding my own bike - I was in no shape to homestead out in the woods again, so I decided to look up brother Davey.
Ever since Davey came back from Puerto Rico, his wife had them moving around so much that I was never sure where he was living, but I knew that Alan Pike had recently got him a Cornell gig teaching a couple of Pike's spill-over sections of freshman English..... so that afternoon, after resting my sore butt in the park, I started up through Cascadilla gorge to campus.

It had been warm enough when I was sitting in the park , but now the sun was off some of the gorge walls, and the contracting stone released a few pieces of slate to screed down into the creek.
A black water snake thick as my wrist, had been drawn from under his ledge by the sun earlier , and now lay half uncoiled in the middle of the walkway..... stopped me like a damn metaphor.
I picked him up and warmed him a minute, then put him under the ledge, hoping he'd make his way into the ground.
Later on that year, the encounter would be the source of one of my precious and popular written aphorisms: You can put a snake to the hole, but you can't push him down it.

I knew Davey shared an office with Pike in one of the buildings on the Arts quad. I wasn't sure which building, but Pike had a couple of labrador retrievers he left out on the quad when he was going to be in the office for a while, and I found them right away, running from one side of the quadrangle to the other with several fraternity dogs, playing football without a ball.

I sat up against a dying Elm in a last patch of sun and watched.

Maybe I even dozed off.....because Pike was suddenly standing right in front of me, asking where my legs were.
I told him about the series of disasters, and that I was looking for Davey. Pike said Davey and Kristal were moving again and he hadn't been in that day.
Pike was going to take the dogs home, then meet Linda and go to King Wing's Oriental Garden for dinner. Every time they went there, the Wings gave them three or four containers of left-overs for the dogs, and it was often food that had never even been on a plate. I could hang out in the office, and he would bring me some fried rice or whatever later on.

The office was was a big garret room on the top floor of Goldwyn Smith hall. It had a cathedral ceiling with a skylight . Alan demonstrated how it could be opened with the dangling chain, in case one wanted to vent animal smells or to smoke anything exotic.
The office had three huge desks: Alan's , Davey's, and one for a guy who was home or in the library writing his dissertation and never came in.
We put my stuff in the drawers of the ghost desk, turned it around so it faced the wall a couple of feet out, and Alan put one of the dog blankets in the leg space for me to lay on.

It must have been a hard day. I went right to sleep, and when I woke up much later, I could smell the Moo Go Gai Pan on top of the desk.
Getting into College had never been a goal of mine, but there I was, and so far it wasn't half bad.