Today is an entertaining day in the Arts + Journalism building at Ball State University.
Not for me, mind you, although I do enjoy the smiles and giggles that surround me as I walk through the hallways. Today the glee is for my friends, former students and others who conspired to elect me as the Faculty Homecoming King.
Of course I’m duly horrified at this, which has only excited my friends and students even more. Not because I dislike celebrations. I quite enjoy them. I simply prefer the idea of celebrating work and achievement.
But my upbringing didn’t allow me to beg out of this student-led event. My father (a man of few rules) had told me on more than one occasion that he had one particular rule he always tried to follow with his kids: whenever my sister or I called, he would answer the phone because he figured if we were coming to him for help, we must need something. And, he said, he never knew when that would stop and he didn’t want to miss anything.
I’ve adopted that philosophy in my teaching career as much as I could: whenever my kids do something or need something, I try to answer.
This includes participating in Homecoming.
Of course, my father didn’t tell me that sometimes when you answer you end up standing in front of several hundred students as they prepare for the big football game. Or that you end up riding in a parade. Or that you end up on the football field at halftime, which is a scene that – as a football fan – I have always complained about.
What I’ve found as I’ve gotten older is that while dad’s wisdom has oftentimes made me a better man than I would have been on my own, it also leads me into interesting situations.
He didn’t tell me that sometimes you just have to high-five the Cardinal and go with it even when you don’t want to.
Because the fun and the joy that happens in life is oftentimes a reflection of the people around you.It’s a good reminder for me that sometimes you are just the goofy center around the joys that other people experience. That everything isn’t so serious.
So I’m going with it. In my own way, I’m answering the phone and enjoying the laughter on the other end.
On the bright side, I’ve got a fun partner-in-crime who was dragged into the mix as well. And if the worst part of Homecoming Week is that I get to wear a crown, I meet some interesting new folks and I get to ride in a parade…well, let’s be honest, that’s a pretty good week.
Even for a grumpy dude like me.