It’s a rough gig. Probably the toughest of my career and because I will probably never do this again I have affectionately Christened it my “farewell tour.” In the past few months, I have made appearances at a number of venues that all look exactly like the one before it. Some are bigger, some are smaller but essentially it’s all the same. Only the names will change.
The guy in charge of this operation helps keep me on track by wearing a t-shirt from each location but I’ve got to be honest, it’s all beginning to blur. I am tired of being surrounded by questionable catering, smug industry insiders, overzealous fans and an entourage of people that I suspect only like me for my money. I know that once I am gone, another act will blow into town behind my little band and they will roll out the red carpet for them as well.
Yes, I am on the college road trip.
The college road trip is a time-honored tradition and an important part of the high school experience, but if you have never been on this kind of whirlwind adventure before, let me clue you in to what goes on behind-the scenes of this three-ring circus. I have visited campuses that act like my son is a visiting dignitary they can’t suck up to enough. They have given us a designated parking space, put his name up on a plasma screen, and presented him with a swag bag that some celebrities would fight over. He’s even been led into a VIP lounge with so many complimentary snacks and beverages that it’s caused me to wonder what is so terrible about the cafeteria food that they are trying to ruin his appetite prior to lunch.
We have also seen schools that are much too cool to care about whether or not you are impressed by their campus atmosphere. Some student guides only point in the vague general direction of different buildings and those that buzz by some of the most prominent features of the campus like they are mere dots on a map. I’m sorry, but if it is the attribute your school is most known for, shouldn’t it be on the tour?
I have met guides who are way too perky about their campus and spend the tour peppering their commentary with stories you had to be there in order to understand. I have met guides who can’t answer any questions beyond “What was the football team’s record last year?” and those who have the uncanny ability to walk backward and talk at the same time. (I’m telling you, if they can chew gum as well then they have achieved the trifecta of talent as far as I am concerned.)
We have encountered professors who seem genuinely interested in my son, who have encouraged me to apply as adjunct faculty (my son was not amused) and admissions directors that have all but dashed his hopes for admission only after he was convinced that he wanted to attend this particular school.
It’s a grind, and as we head into home stretch of application season, I am ready for someone to pour me into a suitcase and send me home. After being at this for so long, each school seems to be singing the same song and at this point, I have no idea where Boy Wonder will end up. I do know that I am tired of the long two-hour sets, cheesy lines and stale encores and I am ready for the curtain to fall on this act so that it can rise on the next phase of his life.