By Eilene Lyon
The Slide Years is a series in which I select an image my dad took from 1957-1982 with Kodachrome slide film, then I write a stream-of-consciousness essay – a sort of mini-memoir.
The last of the “slide years” coincided with my graduation from the University of Cincinnati in 1982 with an Associate’s degree in law enforcement. I think I’ve mentioned previously that I read too many Ed McBain novels and loved “Hill Street Blues.”
Funny, but being entertained by cop dramas does not automatically make one suited to become a police officer. Go figure.
The two years I spent in Cincinnati must surely qualify as the most bizarre period of my life. I hardly know where to begin. With a therapist, probably.
Just a few examples:
- Marching band and pledging for the band fraternity. This was hardly like the drum-and-bugle-corp style band I played in in high school. I do believe Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine played a role in the pledging. And learning the Greek alphabet. What on earth for? Once, some band mates and I went “skiing” at Beavercreek Hill. I’m certain none of us knew a damn thing about it. We rented gear, tumbled off at the top of the lift, and somersaulted our way down the hill. A few rounds of that, and some near misses of lift towers and light poles, and we called it a night.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight in a seedy downtown theater. Costumes, toast and all that weird shit. (I was not in costume and couldn’t understand why a guy in a gold diaper kept asking me if I was “a virgin”!)
- Living in a tiny dorm room with three women I didn’t know. Two of them smoked, though I’d requested non-smoking roommates. The night one of them had sex with her boyfriend while I was in the room. Did I mention how small it was? Our room became notorious in the entire building for personality conflicts. I concede being a part of the problem. It was a tough adjustment, especially since I have no sisters and grew up having my own bedroom.
- Getting my foot caught up in a conveyor-belt motor while working in the dorm cafeteria. Yes, I do know how to produce bloodcurdling screams, thank you very much. Whimpering as the maintenance man took said machine apart. Ambulance ride, crutches, not realizing until many years later about liability and workman’s comp. Where is a lawyer when you need one?
- Oh yes, I did date a law student for a while. But he was older and I was, yep, still a virgin. When he invited me on a trip to Chicago for a weekend, I was eager. Asking if I’d have my own hotel room kinda killed that deal.
- Working summers as a security officer at King’s Island amusement park. The full-time staff were all officially county sheriff’s deputies – very cool, professional people, who loved to party. My fellow co-workers fell into two groups: the nicest, most helpful people you could ever hope to meet; and macho assholes on a power trip. I also worked some graveyard shifts at the park in winter. Talk about some maximum creepy experiences. I also got to meet some newborn tiger kittens. Too cute! Once, my entire shift went on a rafting trip on the New River in West Virginia. While there, I made my boss cry – did I feel like a total heel, or what?
- Getting my EMT certification. I can assure you that I never want to work in a healthcare profession. You don’t want me to, either.
- Giving two of my friends a ride back to school from Cleveland after Christmas break. One was a guy from marching band. The other, my friend Vera, from the dorm, an interior design student (I should have switched to her major). Vera’s dad, a Russian whose first family died in the famines, about 70 years old, was not about to let Vera ride in my car with a BOY!! He marched out and grabbed Vera’s suitcase out of the Vega’s hatchback, yelling in Russian the whole time. Then he forced her to take a Greyhound to Cincy instead. With a bunch of strangers. Some of them male. Go figure.
P.S. It dawned on me (40 years later) as I wrote this that Vera must have lied to me to spare my feelings. It wasn’t the boy that was the problem. It was me and my car that didn’t seem, to her father, to be safe transportation. And you wonder why I think I’m a bit “slow.”
Feature image: Graduation procession at the University of Cincinnati in June 1982. Ohio Senator/astronaut John Glenn was the commencement speaker.