College Life (Revisited)
By France Griggs Sloat
At 2:00 a.m. I’m squinting through the thick white haze of a smoky joint named Soupie’s looking for my student-host, Constance Fowler. I need her to help me maneuver this under-21 crowd. At my advanced age, I’m exhausted and ready to go home. As I sit on a stool next to a table that needs a good scrubbing, I scan the crowd. Constance’s friend, Melissa Downey, sits perched on a stool nearby, deftly holding a cigarette she’s bummed and chatting with anyone who will listen. Another friend, Amme Hawkins, stands by her, blonde hair in perfect trim, a touch of blue eye shadow setting off her freckles. She’s pretending not to notice the guy she has a crush on because, she glibly told us three hours ago, her mouth turns to mush when he shows his face.
To my back is Keith Jackson, the basketball player. His ball cap is on backward, his pants hang loose, he’s got an easy smile. A girl prances in with her boyfriend. He’s stylish with hair spiking up. She’s in a skirt that couldn’t be shorter and brown suede ankle boots trimmed in white fur.
It’s only Wednesday night, but Soupie’s is a happening place. You have to be 21 years old to drink, but you can come inside if you are 18. The girls scream over the music that I should come on Thursday or Friday, when it’s standing room only. I laugh because I know that won’t be happening. It’s only because of them that I am here now. Constance and her friends agreed to let me spend 24 hours in their shadows, getting a feel for how student life today compares to that of my own.
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