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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Coots, as in crazy old, and the Cartesian enigmas of being a St Andrews alumnus.

Once the Facebook page for my class at St. Andrews University was called '78 Coots.

Coots are not ducks but they play ducks on Lake Ansley C. Moore at St. Andrews. They are Yankee birds who migrate south for the winter. They just show up one ay and paddle about, largely silent, until spring burgeons. Then one day they are gone. You never see them on land, or flying. We used to think they hitchhiked over from an abandoned chicken house in Gibson, 8.4 miles away via X-Way Road:

Then I got a notice that the Facebook page had become '77 Coots. I began wondering if my class had been abolished, or I'd been dropped from the lists for not giving them any money since I became a mendicant book dealer.

'77 Coots became the locus for news of the cohort graduating the year before me and their coming 40th reunion.

They had their big booyah this past weekend, and now I have gotten this notice:

It seems "Coots" is now a generic brand, like Consumer Cellular in AARP TV ads, and next year- after my class has its 40th- "'79 Coots" will be slotted in.

Adding to my confusion was the discovery, after I got the last alumni magazine, that in the obit I wrote for my mother, I had migrated backwards a year in time to become a 1977 St. Android.

Now I am not sure if 2018 is really my year or not. I feel like Bobby Ewing in the Dream Season of Dallas: was I really there at all? Was I really alumni president in 1997? My parents said they were coming and then no-showed. Did it actually happen? Is the framed Fortner Award on my wall real? After all, I got it in the mail. It coulda been ginned up at the UPS Store in Port Angeles and dropped on my doorstep.

But, wait, as Ron Popeil used to shout on late night TV. There's more!

Over the last few years, I have viewed hundreds, if not over a thousand, social media scans of photos from my years at St. Andrews, all featuring people I considered friends.

I've never seen myself in a one, not even those taken at events I remember attending (or was I there at all? Is this my dull, dull version of Total Recall?).

I don't see in those photos the odd gaps characteristic of Soviet-era airbrushing, though younger friends tell me it's way, way easier to moosh things around convincingly in old snaps, dude.

Old snaps? Oh, snap!

So I am filled with angst over whether to attend next year's clambake. What if I get there and they say I am a year late? Or not in their records at all? What proof have I that I, in fact, am a '78 Coot?

Uh, none, I'll have to mumble. All my yearbooks (where there were some photos in which I lurked), and my diploma were among the record of my life my family threw away.

Maybe best to just keep the status quo. Just keep occupying my vague niche in between 1977 and 1978, like the half-floor office in Being John Malkovich. Hope no one notices, end up dumped in highway medians at night from time to time.


  1. You'd better come you old '78 Coot and when I get a minute I will scan my yearbooks(only 3 as you remember) for some photos of you! By the way, the '78 Coot page was graciously on loan to '77. That is as far as it goes!

  2. I'm on the cusp of 77-78 and I like it! But you're 78 all the way. See you at the clambake!