Tales Of The Glories
By Jeff Baker
It snowed the week before Christmas in 1977, my junior year in college. It was a few days before the start of winter, and somebody at school cracked that it had been winter for about a month and a half already. After finals week, I was one of a few people staying in the dorm over the break; a full week before Christmas on the weekend. I had my job to go to, plus my Mom and Dad lived halfway across the country. I was in the old dorm; the jocks were in Rawson Hall, the new dorm. The basketball team had a game right before Christmas, and some of them had no place else to go, so I guess Coach had a Christmas dinner for them, which was fine.
My only interaction with them was checking them out when they did their afternoon run around campus, sometimes in their shorts (and sweatshirts.) The only other guy I knew on my floor who was there that week was Scooter Monroe. He said he didn’t celebrate Christmas and didn’t even bother much with Hanukkah, which had been a couple of weeks earlier anyway.
I was on my way home from work when it started to snow. This was about nine at night and I was trying to get the basketball game on the radio. No luck. When I pulled into the dorm parking lot everything was covered with about an inch of fluffy snow. I grabbed the little bag of groceries from the back seat and headed into the dorm and found Scooter inside looking out the window.
“Wow,” he breathed. “I’ve seen snow in movies, but this is the first time I’ve ever been in it! I mean, been where it was snowing like this!”
“There’s more on the way,” I said. “I heard on the radio that they were expecting at least a foot overnight.”
“Phew!” Scooter said with a big grin.
I shifted the grocery bag in my arms.
“Listen, the cafeteria is going to be closed tomorrow and so will a lot of other places, so I’ve got some stuff here and a fridge so come over to my room and we’ll make a party of it.”
“Sure!” Scooter said. “You know, I would have gone to school down in Florida if I hadn’t broken up with my boyfriend.”
“I’ve never been in a relationship with a guy long enough to have a boyfriend,” I said. And we let that hang in the air. This was 1977, remember. I hadn’t known Scooter was gay or bi or what. I didn’t know whether he was making a pass at me or I was making a pass at him. So we said “See ya,” and went to our separate rooms.
Later that night the snow and wind kicked in, I heard it as I was dozing. The next morning there were drifts of snow blown against the buildings, more than a foot of snow on the ground and the city was shut down. The parking lot was a thick covering of white with a few lumps here and there from the few cars still parked there. It was cloudy with a few flakes drifting down but it was still like looking at a big sheet of blank typing paper. Pine trees were covered with globs of white fluff. I’d put on my boots and jacket and went outside. It was like walking around in a Christmas card. I took it all in.
Something swished past my head. A snowball. I looked up; Scooter was there laughing. He had a scarf and a jacket and was making another snowball. I grabbed a lump of snow and tossed it at him. It fell short. The next one I threw got him right in the chest. For the next few minutes the two of us exchanged volleys and I’ll always remember the sound of our laughter echoing in the snowy quiet.
That afternoon Scooter and I sat in my room and listened to Christmas carols on the radio. I warmed up a few sandwiches on the stove in the kitchen down the hall. That evening I called in and they didn’t want anybody trying to get to work for the next few days. (We were closed on Christmas anyway.) So Scooter an I spent two days largely holed-up in the dorm listening to the radio, ambling down a block from the college to the convenience store for a six-pack or singing along with the Christmas music on the radio as best we could.
There’ll be hairy goats Torries
And tales of the glories
Of dorm messes long, long ago…
That was after the beer. And yeah, Scooter and I kissed a few times. But it didn’t go any farther than that. Scooter transferred back to Florida to finish college that next semester. I was so busy I barely noticed. But forty-one years later, a December doesn’t go by that I don’t think of being in that snowbound campus with Scooter, looking out the window at the dark night and the Christmas stars.