We had to spend all of Wednesday traveling. From 7:00 a.m. to 5:34 p.m. No time to hang around a steak restaurant that evening listening to drunken obnoxious bores like when we took The Pony to his orientation camp. Nope. That Wednesday night, we sent Hick out for Personal Pan pizzas, and The Pony and I watched our last Big Brother together. I still get a little twinge of sadness when I watch that show. It's on three times a week, you know.
That Thursday, Hick helped The Pony move into his dorm. And The Pony sent me a picture of Papa John's out his room's window. Hick and I were on our own to run around, while The Pony had a bunch of welcoming activities and free stuff to attend to. More on that another time.
Friday, we were basically killing time until the National Merit Scholar dinner that evening. I knew it would be the last time I saw The Pony before we drove off the next morning and left him behind. I had said my goodbyes Thursday before he left to move in. Still, it was good to see him standing outside the venue waiting for us. Hick dropped me off and went to park.
We went inside, and imagine my shock at finding out I had to climb 3 flights of stairs. Double-flights! Val is not one for climbing stairs. She will walk farther to take a ramp. Or better yet, scope out the elevator situation. Of which none was seen in this building. The Pony took his time as I gimped my way up those three flights. With about five steps to go, and me feeling like Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit of Everest (not from breathlessness, but from exhilaration) I said, "Pony, you might want to text your dad and tell him to come up to the third floor."
"I won't need to. There he is now." Indeed, there was Hick on the landing behind me. The Pony went around a U-shaped table corral and picked up his free Scholar stuff. Then we went inside the event room and found our table. The meal was BBQ, serve yourself. A greeter told us to go through the line in the back room when we were ready. Always studious, The Pony wanted to fill out his survey first. "You can go on ahead." Perhaps it was his own way of starting to separate from us.
You don't have to tell Hick twice to go get some free BBQ. He went through the burger line, while I chose pulled pork. It's too bad Hick didn't notice the habits of the other diners who would later show up at our table. They were piling TWO burgers on their bun! Anyhoo...I just took a dab of pulled pork, no bun (I've been cutting back, you know) and grabbed a bag of Baked Lay's Sour Cream and Onion Chips. Oh, and a chocolate chip cookie. For The Pony! And a big bottle of water with the OU label (hopefully not recycled from fracking).
I still had my old toilet phone back then. I managed a couple of pictures, trying to leave out faces of people who might not appreciate appearing on my blog. Here's a view of the balloons marking the different tables.
We were at Table 1. Actually, ONE of the Table 1s. I think there were 3 or 4 of them. Not sure how the Scholars were divided up, but the older Scholar in charge of our end of the table said she had 10 incoming Scholars to oversee all year. Like a mentor. There was another Missouri girl just down the table. In all, there was a bumper crop of 278 NM Scholars in this freshman class, from 40 different states. I'm pretty sure OU leads the nation in recruiting these braniacs.
The Pony was a bit off his feed. He said he had eaten a lot already that day, AND there was an ice cream social when this dinner concluded. He opted for the pulled pork, but as you can see, his eyes were bigger than his stomach. Didn't keep him from adding one of his basic food groups to his plate: ketchup. He's clutching his bag of information and free stuff.
You KNOW The Pony is full when his second cookie remains uneaten! I tried to sneak a pic of him, seeing as how this was the last supper. And I caught some old guy in the background. Hick would say that's an unflattering photo. No. He wouldn't. We're just lucky he was only drinking water, and not tilting his head back to garner the last chip crumbs from the bag. Which he did in a classy (!) place like Harrah's Casino many years back.
The Pony is looking shaggy because, like many of his kind, he resists grooming. He is wanting to grow out his hair. I shudder to think of the state of his mane right now. We conveniently had a Skype glitch on Sunday, from The Pony's end, so I can imagine for another week that it's still manageable.
After the welcome, and the address by the university president (who gave an entertaining speech, as fitting for a former politician), and a roll call of the different states, and some introductions of the Scholar staff who will assist these newbies for the next four years, my heart started to get that squeezy feeling. It wouldn't be long now. I wanted just one more moment with my boy. I've grown kind of attached to him after all these years. But the leader of that little soiree announced that the Scholars should follow their mentors out of the dining area and down to the ice cream social.
The Pony grinned at the girl from Texas who was seated across from him. She said, "Are you going down there?" Of course he said, "Uh huh!" And off they went. I told him bye as he walked behind me. And as I looked over to Hick, I saw the white plastic bag of his swag, which contained the very T-shirt he must wear at half-time of the Sooners game on Sept. 10 to walk out on the field with the other 277 Scholars and be recognized. It's mandatory.
"The Pony forgot his T-shirt! That's his whole bag with stuff they said was important!" Let the record show that when this info was being emphasized, I had poked The Pony and said, "As soon as you get back, hang that shirt in your closet, and it will be there when you need it." And The Pony turned to me and said, "Mother! I think I can take care of a T-shirt."
Hick grabbed that bag and jumped up. "Oh. He's just right over there. I'll go take it to him."
Yes, The Pony was standing off to the side, talking to that Texas girl's mom! So much for a goodbye to his own. That's my Pony.
Later, back at the Holiday Inn Express, I took a picture of the sunset on my last night in the same city as my baby boy.