Friday, November 7, 2014

Skunks, Skunk Weed, Sesqui and Dealy: Memories of Smoky Idylls on Eddie's Parade

Fordham University Rose Hill Campus in dawn's light - Dealy Hall is visible at the left

For four years I walked this route to Dealy Hall, the building pictured in the dusky light, where I endured some of the most demanding courses at Fordham College taught by the historian and co-founder of the African-American Studies Department, Dr Mark Naison.

Of course this particular corner of campus is fondly familiar as well for the countless late 
evening strolls with my clique of friends. Eddie's Parade was barely populated with students at this hour now that classes were over (though entirely over-populated by skunks waddling about; we learned to approach their domain respectfully, warily, jangling our keys vigorously to alert them of our presence, lest they take fright and spray their malodorous, noxious wind which was always detectable here in this particular region of campus, especially late at night.)

We were engrossed in our regular routine, strolling about in a goodly sized group attempting to appear innocuous as suspicious smoke marked the direction and location of our aimless, unsteady trail. Our merry band was a motley crew of races, ethnicities, sexualities, genders and variable dedication to scholarship (and lack thereof). This was the mid to late-90s, New York City, Bronx borough and no one of us could ever be accused of not keeping it real in regard to the principle of multiculturalism, but what was more important was being true, being friends for  friendship's sake, bonding and watching out for each other, taking care of  each other like the little family we were here at home away from home.

Yet our unit was based in another shared identity: as stoners (read: potheads, smokers, tokers, weed wackers etc).

Laughter loudly echoing across deserted Eddie's Parade we strolled, occasionally issuing paranoid shush-ings which only triggered further waves of euphoric giggles or irritable demands, as we walked, to respect and observe with strict courtesy the Puff-Puff Pass Rule.

"Is that Security?" someone would say, looking over their shoulder every few minutes, trying to look cool, trying to look like the inoffensive, harmless middle class kids that we were, and trying not to look like the giggleweed stoners that we so obviously were were. 

Soon the discussion would turn to  love of music (Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef, , the Pixies the new Beastie Boys, Portishead, any and all trip-hop, as well as all old-school rap De La Soul or my favorite , Al Green,). Then someone would lead our wandering conversation over to a piece of gossip, or homework complaints, to money woes and to the most important topic at the moment which invariably provoked petty squabbling about what to eat and where to order from since the school cafeteria was anathema and filled with the worst fare I've ever been subjected to on a college campus. 

We stumbled back toward our dorms as the night sky revealed a swath of starlight, and paranoia peaking once again at the prospect of passing dorm security, which could, indeed, be  monitoring  us this very moment (!) until this threat was forgotten in the mists hanging low at the tree trunks in the faded autumn light, and the smoky haze of Webster Avenue weed that was for true the nastiest  skunkiest dirt weed to be found in New York City in the late 1990s.

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