I went to Hanover College in the Fall of 1982 in my 1967 Plymouth Belvedere loaded with a wardrobe full of fake Izods and a pocketful of dreams. With generous scholarships footing the bill and an abundant monthly allowance from my father, I had more disposable income than I’ve ever had in my life. And that’s just what I did – dispose of it. From pouring gas into my gas-guzzling Plymouth for road trips to treating friends to endless supplies of beer and pizza, I fueled my pursuit of happiness only to wind up going nowhere.
I was eager to understand God. While I read Milton’s Paradise Lost and the other classics, I learned the saying that goes –
Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.
So I consumed vast quantities of beer – at first only on the weekends, but soon through the week as well. The frat houses provided it free out of kegs, but I wasn’t satisfied waiting in long lines to fill up tiny plastic cups with as much “head” as “hops”, so I made friends with various “brothers” I would chip in to buy beer in cans by the cases and would sit in rooms listening to early U2 and REM and pontificating on the meaning of the universe.
I started smoking my sophomore year – mostly Marlboro cigarettes. In my junior year, I found my way into the subculture heavily invested in Kentucky cannabis and started smoking pot daily. My senior year, I had some minor surgery. There were complications from the surgery and I was able to get unlimited prescriptions of Percocet (pain reliever) and Demerol (muscle relaxant).
Either by the grace of God or by other forces intent on propping me up so I could crash from a higher peak, I managed to accomplish a great deal in spite of my drug use. I wrote over 50 articles for the campus newspaper “The Triangle”, served as a “Student Advisor” (like an RA) for two years, had some minor roles in theater productions and played two years of varsity tennis. I was even elected SRAB chair (Hanover’s equivalent of Student Body President). Yet, through it all, I was on a desperate and miserable pursuit of something that only Someone could satisfy.
To give you a better picture of what I looked like back then, I’ll include 3 pictures from my graduation weekend. You can then see how graduating “cum laude” in my case it didn’t just mean “with honors” but also “with much liquor”.
Listening to John Prine on my way to a rousing game of Frisbee football, outfitted in my “Canadian Mist” sponsor cap, hand-painted t-shirt, Salvation Army work pants and shoes with “holes in the soles where the Wind blows through”.
Paying rapt attention during graduation rehearsal, with a future so bright I’ve got to wear shades and a t-shirt from the grad school (Indiana University) I would drop out of before attending the first class.
My father and I, with my “graduation bonus” – a fifth of Jim Beam. It appears by the time someone grabbed a camera to take this picture, it was half-empty (or is that half-full)?