Had a great time this weekend with my Chi Phi brothers in Auburn!
It’s been a while since I’ve put in a good blog post so here goes with the top twelve things I learned this weekend at the Chi Phi Mu Delta reunion in Auburn, Alabama (ten wasn’t enough)
12. Everyone’s changed / no-one’s changed: Sure twenty years will put on a little heft on the waistline and take a little hair off the top, that’s to be expected. However the six inches between everyone’s ears remains the same as I remembered it from college. In fact, any change has been for the better – happy to see so many successful and giving back brothers. The laughs are still the same, the storytellers are the same. The guys that were driven then are driven now. Glad to see everyone doing well.
11. Auburn’s football team stinks this year, that’s going to be written about extensively elsewhere for the next three months, so we’ll just leave it at that here. I’m thinking it’s a conspiracy between the football team and agriculture school to go 3-9 this year so the trees do not get rolled this year. More on that on #3.
10. Brian Pierce is an awesome cook! Friday afternoon he brought up some shrimp, sausage, something resembling a lime-green artichoke heart (didn’t want to ask what critter that was), potatoes and corn on the cob chunks. Did a low country boil in the front lawn with a propane heater and a 5 gallon stainless pot- finished it up with saltines, Stapleton family foods Jezebel sauce (unfortunately only available in Baldwin county) and paper napkins (who needs plates?) Wow was that excellent!
9. The Auburn campus is stunning beautiful. This weekend was only the 2nd time I have been back in 22 years and I had forgotten how beautiful it can get on the campus. This shot from Toomer’s looking back to Samford hall was such an incredible feeling – perfect weather, no wind, no bugs – just a lovely, quiet village on the plains of east Alabama. Words can’t do it justice. Back at the house you could see the moon and the stars so clearly and brightly – just a beautiful fall evening. If you have the opportunity you’d have to be nuts to go anywhere else.
8. The Chi Phi chapter will be strong again. I genuinely appreciate how the current Alpha and the current members embraced us old farts. We were made to feel welcome, addressed as “sir”, given handshakes and called out by name. I know we made a mess while we were there, and others did work setting up and cleaning up after us and I appreciate their work as well. The chapter apparently ran into a rough patch a couple years ago but what’s in the past is in the past. What matters in life, where you gain your character, is not what happens to you but how you respond to it. These men you can tell have good character and will go far in life.
7. The golf courses are better in the southeast. Out west we have our trees but they are few and far between so you have a few trees framing each hole. Back in Alabama the forrest is thick and thick trees and pine straw frame up each fairway. And the golden eagles hovering overhead did not hurt either. Unfortunately those were the only eagles on the course – in fact somehow our group achieved a new low in best-ball golf – we actually scored a double-bogey 6 on the par 4 last hole. With 4 golfers and mulligans how in the heck is it possible for us to stink that bad? We should have quit scoring after hole 1 with our birdie.
6. College is nuts expensive. Yes, I’m bracing for that big bill in a couple years, but its not just tuition and room/board. The books are crazy expensive too – I joyrneyed to the back of J&M (yes, they still keep class textbooks back there) – look at the price for a EE book! I remember I paid something like $60 for each class textbook and sold them back (the ones that sucked) at the end of each quarter for $15, now a new textbook averages $250. And that’s just one class. Yikes!
5. Big shout out to all the alumni that organized and came to the event. Especially Bryan Schreiber who gave his time, set up golf, picked up Jon and myself from the airport and provided the Chi Phi Uber service.
4. Memo to The hotel at Auburn University—people coming here care about football. As crazy as it sounds, apparently the management there has not yet figured this out. Check out the picture below—we decided to watch the Ole Miss – Bama game as a group in the hotel bar. The hotel bar only has two smallish (~20”) TVs in the bar, and they are far away from the seating. Resembled watching TV on your watchman in the 1980s – size of a postage stamp. We moved into the banquet room where there was a larger TV – however check out the live mellow Jazz band on the right of the pic—You would normally watch Ole Miss-Bama to the sound of Eli Gold’s incoherent droning (Golden Flake chips, anyone) – no, we got to watch the game to the… soft mellow cover of moon river playing in the background. I can’t make this up.
3. Toomer’s corner itself is different. By now it’s legend that several Chi Phi’s were responsible for the 20’ tiger paw smack dab in the middle of Toomers. This year they decided to make that paw permanent with brick pavers. While I applaud the intent to make that a permanent fixture of what Auburn is, the execution is off a little bit. The paw prints lead into town not away from it and the print itself is rotated 180 degrees from where it should be. Mostly though it’s the color. The new pavers are a tan-yellowish color. Everyone knows that tiger paw prints are supposed to be orange. I guess there is some safety aspect to painting orange in a large intersection (only reason I can think they did not use orange pavers), but damn — this is Auburn and orange is the only color that seems right to me. Sounds like we need another 5 gallons of paint and a 4am window part 2. Bryan, you think we can still play they “young kid, good old student fun” card?
The Toomer’s oaks also have changed the landscape. What a damn idiot Harvey Updike is. Oh well. The new oaks, while I guess they are as big as a transplanted tree can be, just look small. Also, they planted them further away from the intersection, so the net effect is the branches don’t come out into the intersection as much as they used to. It won’t look the same with toilet paper rolled all over it.
The lemonade was great. On my last trip to Auburn for some reason the lemonade was meh. This weekend it stood out as excellent, enough so for a 2nd cup Saturday morning.
2. In life it takes all kinds. I’ll admit a part of the reason I came back is I wanted to see how people’s lives have played out. Among our brothers we have some doctors, judges, board members, life failures and everything in-between. Some divorced, some never married, some with kids of their own in college now. It’s refreshing to hear all the stories and realize that we share something in all life throws at us. It is fun to be part of the journey.
1. Auburn girls are dumb. Sorry, but this one of my favorites. Its coined by my wife in who is referring to the fact the Auburn girls let me go and I got scooped up by in Oklahoma. When it comes to how life played out, I am blessed – my life has played out fantastic with my wonderful wife and our four kids. Amazing that Neville, the goofy, nerdy one in the frat house ended up being married the longest (20 years plus now).. I love you Shelli – you’re gorgeous and the best—time to go home to Oklahoma now!