14 September 2009
21 Feb 2009. AU was a baffling ordeal to get to. At least compared to the schools where you pull off the interstate and BOOM there it is. Drive to the metro then shuttle then walk. Their quad reminded me of UIC's and construction had me walking in circles and cutting through brunches to find their bookstore. Nothing with the new slick AU logo on it, sad.
"And that is why dolphins regularly eat their young. Thank you, and good night."
Jacques Cousteau exited the Bender Arena stage with the full applause behind him.
Minutes later, he emerged from his dressing room in a sleeveless shirt, a towel around his neck and a red tuque on his head. The ragged old Frenchman answered the media's questions in between tips of a navy-issue canteen.
The throng died down. One college student remained. As Cousteau confirmed evening plans with his assistant, the young man tentatively approached the oceanographer.
"Mr. Cousteau, can I get your autograph?" He handed over a program that read Jacques Cousteau Tellin' It Like It Is.
"Sure, let's make it quick. What's your name?"
"Trevor van Ness, sir. I love watching your shows. I think I'd like to be an oceanographer too," he said, fishing for career advice.
"Oh, yes? Good for you," said Cousteau, his mind clearly elsewhere.
"Yes, I want to swim with the dolphins like you."
Trevor just hooked a lunker.
Cousteau stopped writing, which was good as he already forgot Trevor's name.
"Like me? You know how many times I have swam with the dolphins? One, at a show at Sea World in Orlando, Florida." He spit the last two words out with disdain. "It appears you do not have a basic grasp of the vigorous scientific background required for professional ocean studies. It is thankless, dreary, gut wrenching work! So many times I have awoke paralyzed, unable to see how I can continue into the deep, yet equally unable to resist the pull of the sea. The only reason I have achieved my popular glory is by God's chance. Why me, is something too dangerous to ponder."
Cousteau handed the program back to Trevor, searching the boy's eyes to see if his message sank in.
"Oh. Okay. Um, thank you for the autograph."
Cousteau headed toward the exit with his assistant. He stopped short of the door. He motioned to his assistant to continue without him. Cousteau turned back to Trevor.
"Boy, if you want to talk some more, we're going to party at Spread Eagles." He tossed a handbill to Trevor and walked out.
Trevor looked at the flyer and admitted that the lady on it was quite alluring. He was never so glad to have a fake ID.
A stray newspaperman heard the entire exchange.
And that is why American University adopted the Spread Eagles as their mascot (later shortened to Eagles). Thank you, and good night.