Saturday, November 19, 2005

INDIANA CONFIDENTIAL:
ZenFo Pro Goes to (Earlham) College, Nearly Seduced by Cobra Tattoo

Ind. (ZP) -- It blows my mind the triviality of state borders these days.

Oxford lies about seven miles east of the Indiana border, and about 30 miles north of the Kentucky border.

There have been days, hence, where I've been able to hit all three states in a little over an hour simply by driving in a circle.

I've posted Confidentials concerning Oxford, and lately, Hamilton, Ohio, but I haven't really explored other parts of the region. So this weekend, I decided to meander my way up U.S. 27 towards Richmond, Indiana, in search of adventure.

At first glance, the decaying, weathered exteriors of the city's downtown buildings give off the impression of Richmond being a dying city, a community struggling to balance itself on its last good leg. But, like Butte, Montana, Windsor, Colorado, and scores of other such small cities, rumors of the communities demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Part of the reason lies in the fact that Richmond is the home of Earlham College, the polar opposite of Miami University. A small private college run by the Society of Friends (Quakers), it boasts a student body much smaller (around 2,000 students) with more than twice the multicultural population (17 percent minority enrollment, as opposed to Miami's more than 90 percent white student body.)

My first stop was the mall – a tiny little facility, complete with a mall Santa, a Sears, and, sadly, way too many goth kids hanging out at the Hot Topic.

I met perhaps the most...um...unique...person in the mall parking lot - an off-again, on-again Earlham student who, upon learning that I was a librarian, introduced herself by saying “Call me Ishmael,” a reference to the first line of .

Ishmael (I'll call her Ish from this point forward) offered to give me an insider's tour of downtown Richmond, in exchange for promising that I a) wasn't a serial killer and b) agreeing to give her a lift back to the north side of town to her apartment. She also asked if I was interested in parting with my tee-shirt, saying that, if I was a “nice guy,” it'd probably end up on her floor anyway.

A five-foot-nothing 20-year-old with jet-black hair, steel-blue eyes, a tee, and a skateboard who gets turned on by software.

Sweet. Try finding that in Oxford. I dare ya.

With an agreement struck, Ish and I hopped in the ZeFomobile and proceeded to go bar-hopping in some of her favorite hangouts.

Let's just say she had a few. Each place was, well, the kind of place I find relaxing. Blue-collar establishments. The strong stench of disinfectant in the air, cold pints, and ready-to-rumble jukeboxes. Rednecks mixing with skater kids. Preppy yuppies-in-training drinking in the same bars as portly bikers and bearded plumbers. Artists and poets discussing politics and plotting social upheaval.

Holy shit. I've got to get up to Richmond more often.

I had the opportunity to meet several of Earlham and Richmond's finest. This included one young woman who sported an awesome-looking tattoo of a cobra on her lower back and who wanted to one day “break” a male Miami student, a guy who goes by “Stoner” who has never smoked a joint in his life, and a Philosophy student who's only goal in life is to build a house out of Legos.

After an afternoon of drinking, Ish and her roommates were kind enough to allow me the opportunity to grab a shower (true to her word, Ish did indeed steal my FireFox shirt but gave me one of her roommate's in exchange) and crash on the most comfortable couch I've slept on in ages.

Before I left, I exchanged e-mails (Ish and her roomies don't have a phone nor does Ish own a cell phone) and installed 2.0 on two laptops while listening to Le Tigre...

What can I say? An information bounty killer's job is never done.

Richmond, Indiana, is not dead nor is it dying anytime soon.

13 comments:

Ms. Monkeythong said...

And the Earlham art department as a hollander beater for paper pulp. I am soooo jealous!

Brian said...

This girl with the cobra tat sounds pretty cool. Um...do you think you could like hook a brother up with a phone number? I'm a Miami male student damn it! I'm so sick of going to bars here in Oxford with my friendsand dealing with drunk needy chicks looking to just hook up with somebody.

Anonymous said...

i just got this emailed to me and think your site is like so funny and so true. what year are u? are you a grad student or something? just curious. do you use facebook? I think you're totally adorable and it sounds like you had fun at earlham (I don't know how). anyway don't give up on miami girls we can be fun and frisky too ;)

*****
Brit

The ZenFo Pro said...

MM:
LOL...don't know about the Art Dept., but the Art students were amazing folks to hang out with.

Brian:
Now that's funny. The Cobra Tat girl has, alas, a boyfriend, possibly more than one, and I only met her in passing. Sorry. Yeah, the drunk needy girls is a bit of a turnoff; I've heard the drunk horny guys tends to be a turnoff for women in your same situation.

Anon:
Uh yeah...I'm not a student. Don't use facebook, either, sorry. thanks for the compliment.

LibraryTavern Liz said...

20 yo's can drink in Indiana?

The ZenFo Pro said...

LOL...no, the legal drinking age is 21 in Indy, but, you know, its amazing how nobody checks IDs at noon. One place just served her without her ordering anything, which I find amazing, because "Ish" didn't look over 21.

I was waiting for somebody to bring that up. I guess I should've ellaborated that a bit more - most of the places we "bar-hopped" weren't bars but businesses in the downtown area. LOL, guess I made myself sound like a bit of a lush.

She did have an ample supply of Mickeys and Miller High Life at her apartment - hence my need to nap off my eight beers before driving back to Oxford.

The ZenFo Pro said...

And, uh, before anyone tries to figure out why I needed to take a shower in a strange woman's house in the middle of the day, well...

Nothing mysterious or seductive. Just got sprayed with beer and had a male cat "mark" me while I slept.

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

Sounds like a nice trip and does sound a hell u va lot better than Miami.

I'm sure it's like that everywhere.
I have a friend that goes to a small LAC north of Columbus and he says the drunk needy chick thing is rampant... his school is very small but he says he has yet to find even one not so needy chick. It may just be schools in small towns lean themselves toward that or... I don't know.



Ewwww face book....god somehow anyoen over the age of ten useing facebook or it's fascimile makes me gag.
But I have heard Miami has quite a facebook crowd. LOL

Guess you better hit up some more towns.

Katherine said...

lol...my sister is thinking about going to earlham...ill have to warn her about strange library guys picking her up in the mall.

Katherine said...

Not a cat person, so how exactly does one get marked by a cat?

KFigment said...

To this day it floors me that you find youself in a strange person's house in the shower and for whatever reason this is normal for you. You have always believed that people are what the show you. I hope that you keep that part of you and that you never stop believing that people are kind hearted and truly good.


By the way check on chewies info and mine too if you are up for a challenge.

zydeco fish said...

Great story. I've added Richmond, Indiana to my list of places I'd like to visit.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Alice:
Yeah, it was just what the doctor ordered...now, up to Syracuse for some Thanksgiving R&R...I think there is definitely something to the whole small-town small-college thing. I think nowadays a lot of higher ed. schools are in the same boat. My hometown, for example, is home to Longwood University (when I was there it was just Longwood College) - the "in-state" girls were sort of out-of-control clingy - and there always seemed to be enough of those creepy "undergrad for a decade" guys around to prey upon them.

As for Facebook, yeah, hear ya. I actually spent part of my lunch today helping a student delete her FB account after scaring the living shit out of her with my "nothing is safe or private online" speil...

Katherine:
I think earlham is a fine institution and I was thoroughly impressed by the students I met - creative, imaginative, and, well, very community oriented. lol...I on't normally hang out in malls, period, so your sister would be safe ;)

And, well, this bastard of a tomcat pissed on my chest, i.e. "marked."

Kfig:
Talked to Chewie this weekend, he's in the same boat as I am re: women - a complete chickenshit when that "oh fuck I'm attracted to this person" thing kicks in. The girl's a total hottie, however, so I think he did the right thing sending flowers. As for your stuff, see my post on that ol' blog of yours. Just remember, chica...as a man, I can honestly say men are bastards. Not all men, but, generally, yeah, we're bastards and not worth a whole hell of a lot of thought.

(Which reminds me...need to post tonight)

ZF:
Richmond's not all that, but definitely worth a drive-thru or a night in a motel. There' this pub in the mall called Garfield's - great cheese fries.