Sunday, October 23, 2005

COLUMN: Homecoming

This past weekend was Homecoming at Augustana College. I know this because the club that I DJ at on the weekends had a big sign up saying "Welcome Augustana Homecoming!" This is clearly a character flaw on my part.

I shouldn't have to rely on signs in dance clubs to know that it's Homecoming at Augustana, especially since I spent four of the best years of my life at Augie. I should be oozing gold and blue this time of year. I should have had my pennants at the ready and been fully prepped for Homecoming madness. Nnnnnope. Why? Because I've NEVER celebrated Homecoming.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have my own Augie Homecoming on a nightly basis. I get off work and, indeed, Come Home to the same building I've lived in since my senior year at college. I've turned into that breed of person that we so mocked during my four year tour of duty at Augustana. Yes, I've become (gasp) a TOWNIE.

Going back to the ol' Alma Mater loses its lustre a bit when one drives right past it three to four times a day. I've even caught myself cursing under my breath when I have to stop at one of the many crosswalks along 7th Ave. to let some weasly freshman cross the street. 18 years ago, I WAS that weasly freshman, cursing under my breath whenever some jerk townie DIDN'T stop to let me cross the street. Oh, the times, they are a-changin'.

Homecoming at any college is pretty much synonymous with football, the ultimate collegiate battle. Trouble is, I've never been a big fan. I didn't attend one single game when I was a student; why should I bother as an alumni? It's no big secret that I was/am a bit of a nerd. My friends and I in college were the ones who hung out in dark corners, listening to bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode, naively espousing the benefits of socialism and wondering why the jocks ran the school.

During my sophomore year at Augie, I lived in a triple with 2 of my fellow nerd-tastic friends. The triple above ours was inhabited by a trio of jocks. Once, the guys upstairs taped up an ornate drawing of me and my roommates on our dorm room door. It was a grand caricature of the three of us holding hands below a banner that read, keenly, "WE ARE GAY." This is why we hated the jocks.

Of course, we retaliated by pointing all of our stereo speakers at the ceiling, popping in the most irritating CD we could find (Debbie Gibson's "Electric Youth") on repeat, and then leaving -- for the entire weekend. Our hope was that we'd be known as "those guys who drove the jocks crazy." In retrospect, it probably came across as "those guys who really, REALLY liked Debbie Gibson," which probably didn't do much for fighting the whole "we are gay" thing, despite the fact that I spent most of that year attached at the tonsils to my then-girlfriend.

Those days are waaay behind me. If you're pushing middle age and you havent yet come to terms with the whole nerds vs. jocks thing, you're a sad puppy. In fact, I work with some of the members of the current Augie football squad, and they're great guys. A couple years ago, I even decided to throw caution to the wind and (shocker) show school spirit. I had to DJ at Ribco on Homecoming weekend, so I dug through the closet, stretched on my old frat jersey, and took to the stage a portrait of Augustana pride.

And wouldn't you know, that would be the EXACT night that I bump into an old college friend. Once upon a time, he was a huge party guy. Now, he's a high-priced stuffed-shirt attorney, wife and kids, the whole package. And here I was, still DJing on Homecoming weekend, still single, still in my frat jersey. Nice. But know what? Who cares. At the end of the day, I was having fun and he was going bald. So Augie, maybe next time I'll actually REMEMBER Homecoming weekend. You've still got a fan in this townie. Go Vikings!

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