Not Eudora
By Harry Welty
Sept. 11, 2008

Welcome to College Andrew

Labor Day has become the day my wife most wants to leave town. It’s not the cause that vexes her. It’s the spring-like smelt run of college students back to the North Shore. This year we were unable to make our egress.

The beer parties along 21st Ave. East were out in full force Friday evening.  The kids across the street were passing out beer in red plastic cups and playing been bag much as my generation would have played foosball only out on the front lawn. We didn’t rush to the windows when five police cruisers charged up the avenue lights blazing, sirens blaring. We were however, grateful to read later of the 71 visits they made to neighborhood parties to damper them. 

I missed the hubbub as gaggles of kids drifted between parties because I hid in my basement painting till midnight . Claudia babysat our year-old grandson upstairs and channeled her attention to him. They were both asleep by the time I crawled under the covers and I was soon in the welcoming arms of Morpheous and dead to the world.

The sheets were tugged off my shoulder. “Where is everybody?” asked the sheet tugger in his low voice. I rolled over toward the door and blinked up from my pillow at a young man who looked at me as he leaned carelessly against the door jamb. “Where is everybody?” he asked again right at home. The light from the room across the hallway lit him up in the darkness. I had turned that light out.

My brain switched focus from: “Darn, I wanted to finish that dream.”to “Unnhh,” to “Who’s the kid who pulled off my sheets.”

“This kid is drunk on his ass,” my brain helpfully explained.

“Where is everybody?” the kid asked again.

“You’re in the wrong house.” My mouth replied.

“No, I’m not,” the drunk boy said.

“Yes you are.” I insisted, “and you’re drunk and I went to bed stone cold sober.” The drunk boy just stared down at me.

“Do you know where you are supposed to be?” I asked him by know aware that I was alone in the bed. I could guess that Grandma had left our queen earlier to watch over our grandson. Since she often wakes to nightmares with a scream this was a blessing.

This was not the first college student to stumble into our home when I’d forgotten to lock the back door. A few years back I found one sleeping on the couch in our basement and assumed he was my son’s friend. When he awoke the next morning he climbed the stairs, walked outside, turned around and blinked a couple times at the door trying to figure out where he was and how he’d got there.

Another drunken kid walked into my back yard one winter night and stood staring at my back door for five minutes. I spent an hour driving him around trying to figure out where he was supposed to be. He finally gave me the phone number of his girl friend back home in the Twin Cities.

Her father answered the phone at three in the morning. I explained my predicament to him and he called his daughter to the phone to help me out. I’ve always wondered how that relationship faired after that call.

This night I pulled some pants on and led my sodden guest down the stairs and looked out the front door hoping that the party across the street was still in full swing. All that was left there was a table with two dozen red cups standing on it waiting for the party’s resumption. All was quiet the parties and the cops having left the field of combat.

My uninvited guest plunged past me down the stairway with me trailing reluctantly behind. I was barefoot. I asked him what his name was and where he was from. He was Andrew from Cloquet.

He crossed the avenue and headed uphill looking back at me to make sure I was following. I thought about my bare feet. I thought about broken shards of beer bottle. I thought about its being  3AM. I thought about trying to corral a bull headed kid who didn’t know where he was going. I thought about my bed and the dream I wanted to finish. I thought about how guilty I would feel the following morning if I heard that a college kid had been hit by a car. Not guilty enough I decided. I left Andrew to his own devices and headed home.

My wife and grandson were in the kitchen warming up a bottle. My wife had no idea that our Grandson had woken up because of the conversation he had overheard. She thought the radio alarm had gone off.

Welcome to Duluth Andrew. I hope you made it back safe to wherever you were headed.

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.letduluthvote.com  Oops! I meant www.lincolndemocrat.com but I've been hanging out at both places.