Please don’t someday blame me, Professor Harold Hill, if three Iowa boys this week found the on-ramp to the Road to Ruin right here in this River City.
With Janet out of town for most of the week, I was given the keys to the Mom Taxi. With this responsibility came an important fare: Picking up Jacob and two other boys at 11:30 every morning at the conclusion of that day’s College for Kids session at Muscatine Community College.
Unfortunately, I was about 10 minutes late on Thursday morning. When I found the boys in the MCC Student Services Center, two had been playing Ping-Pong and the third was shooting pool. In. The. Student. Union.
Holy visions of a misspent youth.
Once upon a time I was not a Dean’s List student at Morningside College, in Sioux City, Iowa, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design. At least that’s what is listed in my transcripts as my major field of study. Unofficially, it was billiards. I’m pretty sure I spent more time shooting pool in the game rooms of Roadman Hall and what is now called the Olsen Student Center than I did studying in the college library. Often, I skipped classes after lunch in order to keep shooting pool — especially if shots were falling with ease.
Once, when I was home on break, my dad and I played a few games of pool, which I won in a rather convincing fashion, as we waited for our hamburgers at the Williamson Tavern.
“Are you even going to class and studying just a little bit?” he asked.
Of course, looking back at it now, I’ve realized I should have studied at least as much as friends who went on to become engineers or who joined Gateway Computers — which has Morningside roots — in its early days.
And this is why I hope the boys I taxied around this week learned more at College for Kids than merely how to put English on a cue ball. They come from smart families that have a knack for math and science and engineering.
To combine the wit and wisdom of Garrison Keillor and Waylon Jennings, I hope their mamas don’t let ’em grow up to be writers and instead let ’em grow up to be engineers and software developers and such.
I hope they avoid what Meredith Wilson — the Iowa boy and Broadway composer who wrote The Music Man — called, “Trouble, right here in River City. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool.”