College Life repeats itself each generation

Sat next to a long hair, skinny, “Hippie” guy at Orientation in a community college yesterday, and felt thrown back to a time years ago, sitting cross-legged on the floor across from a similar fellow wondering what the hell I was doing there. 

I was being “oriented” to college, knowing nothing of higher education, having barely gotten through high school a few years earlier. And there I sat, less than 20 days out of Vietnam and leading men in combat. What did I expect from Life back in the States? Was I ready for Peace having faced War for nearly a year? Could I handle it? 

Absolutely not! I was taking part in one of those “touchie-feelie” group meetings. The tall kid — had to have been no more than 19, and only a year out of high school — was leading a “Be In.” He asked all of us to share our names and histories. He was all smiles and friendly patter, laughing hard at just about anything and everything, whether it was funny or not. Would have punched him, if he tried to hug me like he did some of the others. Guess he saw something in me, maybe my eyes, that warned him away from me. 

Cultural shock. That’s what it was. Being thrown into a way of Life I was not exposed to . . . I was used to Philadelphia’s inner city toughness. People act different here in the Suburbs. Especially at College. Among in-coming Freshmen. No matter what walk of Life they might have recently travelled. They treated us all alike. 

Dazed, I became speechless, unable and unwilling to share who I was with a bunch of strangers, none of whom had proven worthy of the trust I had depended on in my three years of military living. Hide away, Michael. Don’t let them see you. Keep your guard up. This could be hostile territory. Tell only your name, rank and serial number. Minimize your exposure. Keep that escape path open and in plain sight. 

The long-haired guy spoke in an effeminate way. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. But, I could not understand what he was saying. It was like a foreign language, and I had to concentrate really hard to cut through the way he talked and focus on what he talked about

Keep in mind, there was no “debriefing” of soldiers coming back from Vietnam. We landed in Ft. Lewis, Wash., USA, and were treated to a “heroic” breakfast of steak and eggs. They served breakfast all hours of the day or night. It was the Army’s special treat to us following a minimum 20-hour flight from one country to the other. 

We got discharged a day or two later, getting our regular stipend along with vacation pay, and that little extra few civilians ever saw: combat pay. An extra few bucks each month for being in Harm’s Way. It was better than nothing. (A private making $125 a month might disagree with you. I was a hot-shot lieutenant, but felt I made very little more than that enlisted man.) 

Got through my Orientation Day with no loss of life or serious bodily injury. Learned to take each day as it came. Couldn’t rush things. Discovered how to handle myself in a new World of Academics. 

And, that’s what I tried to pass on to my son, as I attended the Orientation gathering with him Tuesday. Sitting next to the long-haired fellow. Who bothered us with his over-friendly smiles and his endless questions. Some things never change, I thought to myself. Now, if Nicholas can simply get through his first semester unscathed by the first days of battle, I think he’ll have a good chance of completing his “tour of duty” in Academic Life.

7 comments on “College Life repeats itself each generation

  1. inbook says:

    Dear friend, we accidently found a group named f–k india. . . [contoveros edit] . . . on facebook . . . after that we searched for anti indian groups, and found lots of anti indian groups are there. . . and then we searched for anti us groups and didn’t find a single one. In f–k india [contoveros edit] group they uploaded videos showing that some one is raping mother india. . .

    facebook already received more than 10 lakh requests to close f–k india [contoveros edit] group but they are not closing the group.

    So we are forced to think that . . . indians . . . using facebook . . .[are] . . . compromising . . . the dignity of our country. {W]e came to . . . [believe]. . . that none of the indian networking sites are available for indians, and they need one to communicate, and that forced us to develop an indian social network where we can communicate make friends and do what ever we want . . . even advertise your product and business free of cost, and we are also donating 10 paisa / new user for the welfare of children in our country.

    We are doing . . .[this] for protest against the facebook attitude because we thought instead of filing request to close f–k india[contoveros edit, and now really getting angry, PTSD-type angry at facebook] group if only 2000 members quit face book then they will definetely close the . . .group because if they lose the members it means they will lose the revenue. . .

    So, only one thing:

    be indian, be inbooker, join

    waiting for your reply.
    I think you will help me in my mission. Waiting for real indians.


    • contoveros says:

      We should all be “real Indians.” I think Facebook should remove the offensive materials. I wouldn’t want to see any anti-American stuff there; why should someone from your country not be treated the same?

      I have joined your organization, and hope to contact Face Book. If I get no response, then I will protest it here on WordPress and anywhere else my small network of friends will support your cause.

      michael j


  2. mode20100 says:

    A+ would read again


    • contoveros says:

      Thanks for your input. I checked out the site and read some good articles. Will have to return for more . .


      michael j


      • contoveros says:

        Tried to join the Louisville Slugger group but they wouldn’t have me!

        Seems they banned persons from WordPress because of past abuse. How do ya like that? Why couldn’t they just bar the one or two causing all the trouble?

        Oh well. Goddbye to my Old Kentucky Home .


  3. souldipper says:

    Invisible wounds,the worst kind. Made worse by the fact that the healing is SO inside out. Apply Love readily and massage in until fully absorbed.


    • contoveros says:

      Healing. I’m healing. I’m healed.

      Wow. You do wonders long distance.

      And, over the Internet. It’s that certain touch you have, the magic fingers applied just right with all that loving care!

      Thanks. And here’s an embrace. Like a bear. I’m tired of hugs. I wanted to give you something that lasts a little longer . . .

      michael j
      to Amy


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