Friday, April 20, 2007

An ode to Perk

Doing this might cause ill feelings, because if you do it for one person, you should do it for everyone, right?

You are likely correct, but nothing feels right these days and I can't claim to be consistent in my work, home, thoughts, actions, or anything these days. The work keeps mounting, the time grows shorter, my patience and stamina flag . . . but you've heard all of this before.

I come here to praise Perk, not bury him . . . or something like that.

While I know he wasn't the first person that I met when we moved to Ohio, he was definitely the only one of that early group of people that I have maintained contact and interaction with since 1998. We were both entering graduate school at OSU--he in the Master program; I in the Ph.D. His was ancient history; mine was 20th century business. He from Kentucky, by way of BYU; I from Georgia, by way of Georgia Southern. We were assigned to the same grad school office in Dulles Hall and we got down to the business of being grad students--taking classes, assisting professors, grading essays, holding "office hours," sitting around and shooting the breeze during time off.

Turns out he was a Tolkien fan and a Star Wars nut (he even had a LARGE collection of action figures and ships in his house). (And, truth be told, he was mostly responsible for getting me into J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. Many's the twenty minutes Perk and I have debated book theories and criticized the discrepancies between the books and movies.)

So, we got along pretty well. Not only were both of us attending OSU, but our wives were both working at the same place--that very same place that Perk and I eventually came to work at as well. So, there were many commonalities between us.

Let's see, are there any good stories I can tell? My memory being not so reliable, I'm sure that I'll forget some, but the best one occurred when Star War: The Phantom Menace came out. Perk and I both wanted to see it badly, so Lynda and I drove over to their place on a Wednesday night (this was before Perk or I had any kids) and we walked to the theater over by campus. We were both disappointed by what the movie really was . . . though Perk tried harder to defend it than I did. But there were two big news events that night that were only slightly related to the content of the movie.

First, while we were waiting for the movie to begin--in a big line, we heard rumors that George Takei (Sulu of Star Trek fame) was at the bookstore around the corner, trying (I think) to steal some thunder from George Lucas' (then still strong) mojo. Perk wanted badly to go and see Takei, but the rest of us didn't want to lose our place in line. So, we got in the theater and sat down. With just a few minutes to spare before the lights dimmed, it became apparent that Sulu was in the theater with us. After some hemming and hawing, Perk decided to go up to him and talk. (I stayed firmly in my seat.) I don't know if Perk got a chance to actually say anything to Takei, but he did speak to his bodyguard sitting beside him.

Then the movie cranked up and we were all introduced to Jar Jar Binks and Jake Lloyd. I didn't hear Takei laughing out loud, but maybe he fell asleep during the opening crawl about trade regulations and space embargoes.

ANYWAY, once the movie was over, I had to go to the bathroom and who should I pass going out just as I was going in? George Takei himself! We didn't acknowledge one another (not that he would) as men shouldn't when in a bathroom, but that's as close as I got.

Later that night, Lynda and I drove home, I went to bed and when I woke up the next day to go teach my class, I discovered that my car had been stolen from the apartment parking lot.

These are some of the things I think of when I think of you, Perk.

God speed in your travels back to Utah. Have a good time at your new job.

We'll miss you around here.

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