Monthly Archives: April 2015

Menudo on the menu

Each school day, years ago, as my Highlands classes broke for lunch. I would recite that day’s menu. But first, a concession: I never had the faintest notion what the place we all called the “Caff” was serving ­— ever — so my recipe-tation was pure fantasy.

Of course, it’s a given that no student has ever admitted liking campus food. So I’d try to entice them with my favorite: Velveeta cheese poured over Cocoa Puffs — and I’d add, “as much as you want!” Then I’d wait for the lip-smacking yummy sounds from the students. On days when I’d forget to announce the menu, or for evening classes — hours after the dining hall had closed, some students would remind me of the omission.

One student, a sophisticated freshman from Manhattan, improvised once, announcing the menu: boiled parsley flakes served on a bed of steamed menudo, with a side of mayonnaise. I wondered how Audrey Jackson had been able to come up with three items I detest the most.

Now before you get the impression that my classes consisted solely of menus and menudo, let me assure you that we had actual lectures, demonstrations, class participation and only a modicum of menu emphasis. It was around that time I realized that in their listings of items, the students competed for highest honors. Continue reading

Honoring U.Va. honor code

We thought we’d moved to a different world the first time my wife and I, with our 3-months-old son, drove in to Charlottesville, Va. I had received a fellowship to study English at the University of Virginia and was thrilled at the prospect.

It was a great experience, in the early ‘70s, meeting and studying under people like Fredsen Bowers, a Shakespeare scholar; Douglas Day, UVa’s “renaissance man”; and Ed Hirsch, who authored the “Cultural Literacy” series, an academic best-seller.

And we felt good exploring the haunts of Edgar Allan Poe, a one-time student there, and writer William Faulkner, who lectured there.

What surprised us the most was the wealth. My wife, Bonnie, 40 years later, still tells people about my reaction: “There’s so much luxury here.”

Lawns were manicured, cars gleamed, affluence abounded. On first driving through Rugby Road, the university’s fraternity-sorority row, we were amazed at the display of wealth. The parking lot of the frat houses there shone, looking like a new-car lot for the affluent. Continue reading

Absurd name change

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
— Shakespeare, Romeo and Julie

• • •

Search for the Española-based institution of higher learning and you’ll likely find sites for Northern New Mexico COLLEGE and Northern New Mexico UNIVERSITY. It’s not a typo. Those who created the various web sites clearly knew what they were doing.

But having both “college” and “university” to identify the same institution is confusing, if not misleading. “University” denotes a place that offers coursework and degrees beyond the baccalaureate (or bachelor’s) level.

The place that now calls itself a university has no such offerings.

In late January the board of regents of Northern New Mexico COLLEGE voted to give the Española-area school a promotion. And with little fanfare, the institution became Northern New Mexico UNIVERSITY. Continue reading

Working like a dog … or a pig

“You look tired. Maybe you’ve been working too hard.”

“I worked like a dog today,” my mother would respond. “Can’t you see how nice the house looks and how frazzled I look?”

‘If we were in the business of creating mixed metaphors, this would be a world-class effort. The dialogue isn’t made up. I heard it often during my childhood in the days when women stayed home cooking and cleaning and men sailed to the saline mines.

My recently deceased Aunt Manuelita Lucero, who owned a car long before we did, often visited our home while the older children were in school. Mom and Tía would lament about housework, and thereby found reasons to invoke the names of various animals with which to compare themselves.

Whereas I have always respected the work ethic of both my mother and my aunt — in fact the work ethic of most women — my concern here is not with the condition of houses but in their choice of words. Continue reading

‘I don’t appreciate it’

Now please don’t start calling welfare agencies inquiring about the Trujillo family — at least not without letting me explain.

You see, we raised three boys, and that translates to a lot of rough-housing. We made up games which we called “Pay-Dirt,” “Jump the Gun,” “Balance,” “100 Percent” and “Bone Crusher.”

Some of the titles are self-explanatory, except for jumping the gun; we’ve never owned firearms and used the “jumping” metaphor in the sense of a track meet, when a runner starts the race before the starting gun and gets disqualified.

One of the games consisted of my crouching on our king-size bed and having each of the three sons jump on the bed.

Using feet and arms, I’d try to prevent their climbing upon the bed — tough feat and feet, especially with three boys. Continue reading