At the Southwest Airlines ticket counter at BWI, en route to see my son Bill graduate from Marion Military Institute.
Lady taps me on the shoulder.
"Excuse me, would you happen to be Basil White?"
"I would happen to be Basil White."
"I just wanted to say thank you."
"I used to weigh 500 pounds."
I looked at the ticket counter lady. "I shouldn't be famous and poor. It's not fair."
I get my rental car and follow the GPS toward the Selma Quality Inn. I see a sign for Krystal and detour. Good thing there wasn't a school bus blocking the off-ramp or we woulda lost some good kids. I'm in Pelham, Alabama with a tumbler of ice tea and a sack of Krystal burgers and I. Love. Everything.
Back on the road, I drive 40 miles on a 2-lane road to Selma, AL. After 20 miles I thought I had taken the wrong road, but no; this is how you drive to Selma.
I check into the hotel. Dad's right behind me. We change and drive the 20 minutes to Marion Military Institute, and gather Bill en route to the family reception at the campus golf pro shop. Burgers, hot dogs and Diet Pepsi. I meet some of Bill's teachers and classmates. Some of them are pleasant and seem well-balanced, but honestly, a couple of them looked like they needed a hug. And I would not judge them too harshly for that.
After the reception Bill's mother and her family stay to do some crimes, and Dad and I return to the default evening entertainment in Selma, Alabama: Walmart. Auburn & Bama caps, $10. Boston Red Sox & NY Yankee caps, $7.
Dad wonders if Selma, AL has donuts. I suggest that if we stick around and "invent" the donut here, they'd worship us as gods.
The next day, I'm the first parent in the auditorium for commencement. Bill's mother Jo tells me to follow her outside so she can show me something. I won't say what she showed me, but she said "it was the Dremel tool that got us in trouble," and "thank God we had an extension cord."
No cell signal at Bill's commencement, so I'm reading one of the movie scripts I load on my BB for this situation: Chris Rock's "Bigger and Blacker." At my own graduation from Memphis State in 1990, I had to kill the time in a robe sitting on the floor of the Mid-South Coliseum reading Cosby's "Fatherhood." And it was HARDBOUND. And we NEVER complained.
The commencement speech was from the CEO of the local lumber treatment company, Jimmy Rane, aka the Yella Fella, CEO and mascot for YellaWood®. I swear to God this guy inspired Stephen Root's Jimmy James character from NewsRadio: the double-breasted suit, plain talk, mannerisms, the works. He talks straight to the grads about his escape from here, no distracting reading from script, no BS. Rane talks about America's deficient college education and how foreigners get most of the advanced degrees. I blame American culture: I have never met a single foreigner make fun of anyone for being smart. Rednecks list "picking on bookworms" as a hobby on their resumes. Of course in other countries, their investment on education also isn't based on how much property tax your county can pay.
The president of the Alumni Association says "you'll never really leave Marion." I beg to differ: when I left my 20-year reunion at Subiaco, I really left, 100.0%.
They chose Bill to sing the Alma Mater: solo bass hungover vocals are funny.
Bill didn't seem to get out of MMI what he expected. I predict that Bill will understand the value of his MMI education when he starts at University of Memphis and everyone else seems to act like they're fifteen years old.
One new 2nd Lieutenant got his first enlisted salute from his mom, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, with a big snappy Navy salute. Another gave his first salute via broadband videoconferernce to his dad in Iraq.
After the commissioning and some Chinese food with some other cadets and families, Daad and I have nothing to do, so we drive from Selma to the Montgomery Mall. 45 minutes away. Dad said "Man, Martin Luther King had a long walk." 17000 sq ft. 6.71 acres. Closed.