Tag Archives: Gainesville

A truly uncomfortable experience

My blog friend, Terri, posted a story today describing an awkward conversation with her 18-year old son about his new girlfriend. This reminded me of an incident when I was about his age that was a seriously painful experience.

The summer after my junior year in college in Florida, I returned home to Pittsburgh for my last summer at home. My only serious girlfriend in several years, “Melanie,” was left behind in Gainesville where she was taking summer classes.

About a week after getting home, I walked in the house after work. My parents were sitting in the kitchen and greeted me with:

“We’re glad you’re home. Sit down. We have something we need to discuss.”

Conversations that start that way go only downhill, and this was no exception.

“Karen, your friend from Florida, called a little while ago looking for you. She said that your girlfriend, Melanie, has a COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, and she thinks you ought to get a blood test.”

My mind wasn’t running in the gutter, so I was thinking of diseases like small pox, diphtheria, or some weird tropical thing that no one has ever heard of.

“Really? I wonder what that is all about?”

My mother had the answer. “Obviously she has the CLAP! Have you been SLEEPING with that girl?”

A brilliant 20-year old and a master of snappy comebacks, I responded:


For the next several minutes, I made a concerted effort to assert my rights under the 5th amendment to avoid incriminating myself. I’m not sure I was entirely successful. I was 100% positive that whatever “communicable disease” had Melanie in its grips, it was not venereal in nature.  However, I had no objective evidence to put before my parents. (“I don’t know any Karen or Melanie, so they must have the wrong number.”) Finally, I said I needed to call someone in Florida and get to the bottom of the story.

This was at least 10 years before the first cell phones were developed and 25 years before they became as common as wristwatches. I left messages all over Gainesville, without being able to track down Karen, Melanie or anyone else who knew what was going on.

When I returned to my parents, my mother began to tell me how much she and my father had wished they had been able to sleep together before they were married. I think she wanted to put me at ease. It didn’t work. I tried prayer.

“Dear Lord, just take me now. Put an end to my misery.”

Apparently, God was taking the night off, because I remained fully alive and conscious throughout the conversation.

Eventually, with no additional information on my end and far too much information from my parents, the encounter ran out of steam.

It was several hours later when I finally received a return call from Karen.

“I’m so glad you called me back. You really need to checked out because  Melanie has….MONO!”

I was both relieved and so angry I wanted to reach through the phone and grab Karen by the throat a thousand miles away.

Melanie recovered from the mononucleosis just fine. We stayed in touch over the summer and resumed dating in the fall. We had a good laugh over it. We dated for another year and then split up. We both ended up marrying our next serious relationship and both marriages are intact today. If she reads this, I hope she gets a laugh.

I don’t know what ever happened to Karen. Let’s hope she didn’t go into the communications business.


Caught orange and blue handed

I knew we were in trouble as soon as I opened the mail box. We had been caught.

The envelope from the University of Florida Athletic Association was addressed to “The Family of ‘my late father-in law.’”

Oops! That does not look good.

My father-in-law, who passed away in 2006, bought season tickets to University of Florida football games back in the late 1980s, when they were practically giving them away. Shortly thereafter Steve Spurrier arrived on the scene, followed later by Urban Meyer. The past two decades have included a handful of conference championships, three national championships and two Heisman Trophy winners. The demand for football tickets has risen dramatically.

Like all major football programs, at UF you must make a donation to the athletic association at a certain level to have the privilege of purchasing season tickets. Today that required donation runs into the thousands of dollars. In the late 80s, it was about a tenth of that. So long as Father-in-Law was alive, he was grandfathered in at his original rate. The athletic association will allow a transfer to a son or daughter, but the expected donation would reset at today’s level. So when FIL died in 2006, we conveniently neglected forgot to tell the athletic association about it.

To be blunt, we cannot afford the donation level they require for our seats. They aren’t great seats, and the donation level is near the bottom of the scale, but it’s still much more than Mrs. Poolman and I can afford or justify.

As Mrs. P said, “It’s like the end of an era.”

Our closest friends

I guess we will be spending more fall Saturdays in front of the TV, rather than enjoying the companionship of 92,000 of our closest friends. I hope they will miss us.

Iconic Wardrobe

There are many football fans in this part of the country who hate the Gators.  “Smug and arrogant” were the charges when Stevie-Boy Spurrier was the “head ball coach.” Since then the love hasn’t gotten any stronger.  Things like this ESPN promo might have something to do with it.

Subtle… I like that. My Georgia-fan friends are going to love it. Ha!

Let the games begin!

As I have mentioned before, we are big fans of the University of Florida and have three season tickets to the home football games. We missed the home opener last weekend due to my niece’s wedding, so yesterday was our first football game and tailgating of the season. The kick-off was scheduled for 12:20 pm.  For an early kick-off, we usually drive down to Jacksonville and spend Friday night so it gets us close to the game in the morning. However, in this case, we decided to just go ahead and drive down and back on the same day. This meant the alarm went off at 4 am (about six hours earlier than I typically like to get up on a Saturday) and we were on the road at 5:15 am for the three and a half hour drive to Gainesville.

We didn’t have any “takers” for the third ticket in our bunch, so it was just Mrs. Poolman and I. We didn’t plan an elaborate tailgating set-up. We picked up some sub sandwiches, a bag of chips and drinks from Publix the night before. We have been doing this ever since we moved back to Savannah in 1992, so we have it down to somewhat of a science. Our tailgating spot has evolved over the years. We like to park on-campus. Football Arch

Several years ago, we found this spot, on the north side of the architecture building. It provided shade, an overhang in case of rain, and, most importantly, close proximity to bathrooms. When we first started tailgating here, no one else knew about it. Or, rather, they didn’t know how to follow the paths to get there. Then several years ago, a group of students and their friends “discovered” our spot and moved in. Football 1

We moved just a couple of yards to the side and have “adopted” a site adjacent to one of the many sinkholes on campus. (Anywhere else, it would be called a pond, but here they are sinkholes.) Football 2

It is scenic, relatively quiet, and still close to cover and bathrooms. When we arrived yesterday, we had only a couple of hours before heading to the stadium. Mrs. Poolman stuck her head in a book and I took a sitting-up nap in one of the bag-chairs. After lunch, we walked the 10 minutes to the stadium. Football Staduim

Our seats aren’t the greatest in the world, but they are in the bowl. Some of the folks who sit near us have also had the same seats for years. Each September, we greet each other like long lost friends, and then say “See ya next year” in November. The weather did not cooperate with us yesterday. Usually this issue with these early-season day-games is the heat. Mid-afternoon in Gainesville in mid-September can easily mean 90 degrees of hot sun. Combine that with being crammed cheek-to-jowl with 93,000 of your closest friends, and it can be slightly uncomfortable. Yesterday was cloudy, which was nice, until that turned into rain. Football rain

We didn’t bring our rain ponchos, although, at this time of year, they can be stifling hot. Sometimes, it’s just better to sit and get wet. It’s not like you get cold. As expected, after a slow start, the Gators rolled over Troy. We actually did something we have NEVER done before. We left early. We took off at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who got tired of sitting in wet clothes.

Here is a street outside the stadium as we were leaving. Football early departureThe early departure allowed us to get off campus before the traffic built up. We were home by 7:30 pm.

We have another game next weekend vs Tennessee. That should be interesting. The new UT coach, Lane Kiffen, did some early trash-talking last winter, including accusing UF’s Urban Meyer of cheating. That was not really a smart thing to do. Urban won’t admit it publicly, but he has a long memory. Just ask Georgia Coach Mark Richt. Next Saturday should be fun!