I can’t sit still for 20 minutes without falling asleep.
I’ve tried coffee, but it only makes me go potty fifty billion times in a matter of minutes. I’ve tried sleeping for 10-12 hours the night before, only to find myself drooling all over my text books within 25 minutes instead of the usual 20. I've tried every method under the sun, and no matter how interested I am in the subject matter, I fall asleep.
A two week trip down the coast of South Carolina touring new property developments might not appeal to many people outside of a group of real estate development grad students. But it was, in fact, a heck of a lot of fun. Knowing my inability to stay awake, I often retired early and drank very little alcohol. This turned out to be a good thing given that on Day One of our tour through Myrtle Beach, "Red Wine” Kelly was found throwing up in the bushes outside of City Hall. Others complained about their headaches and that they could hardly keep their heads up as the lecturers rattled on and on about local history. I was just glad to be on the tour, and even happier that I wasn’t battling a blinding hangover, unlike my fellow students. But the trick for me was managing to find a way to keep my own eyes open.
Then there was the two hour lecture discussing waste water treatment recycling. Right after lunch with the beach steps away and in full view...And yes, I will admit, I napped in the big comfy chair in the back of the room. I didn’t mean to. But with the sound of the waves and a full belly...I tried to fight it but my head was just too heavy.
At a stop in Charleston, the family of one of my fellow students owned a fancy restaurant. It was tucked away in an alley, inconspicuous but very ritzy just the same. We heard all about how George Washington used to stow his horse down in the very room we were sitting. No, the horse didn’t sit in the dining room...The restaurant used to be a stable for a historic hotel nearby.
We started off with cocktails and passed around the hors d’oeurvres. Most of them were things I had never seen before and probably still couldn’t tell you what they were. I just know I liked some of them better than others, but I made every effort to try a little of everything. It was a whole different world for me. Growing up in poverty, I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. My graduate program always ate well, and this night was not an exception; it was by far the fanciest meal we had eaten as a group.
Thanks to the cocktail hours, I was pretty tipsy already. And since I wasn’t sure if I wanted red or white wine, they kindly gave me a goblet of each. Neither glass went empty once during the entire dinner.
I glanced down the menu and scanned my options carefully since I had little clue what most of the items were.
Scallops. I figured I might as well try them while they were free, right? When would I get a chance like this again? And oh my, they were delightful. They were so tender that they broke at the touch of my fork. They melted in my mouth and filled me with happiness. I devoured my three little scallops and quietly wanted more. I’ve yet to have scallops that have tasted anywhere near as heavenly as those.
Tuna Tartare came next. I had never heard of this dish before, but I knew I liked fish so I went for it. Like with the scallops, I decided to be adventurous.
However, as I took my first bite, I looked over at the girl next to me and said "I don’t like these little red balls. They squish in my mouth.”
She laughed and told me that I was dissing caviar. Fine caviar at that. Whatever. I still didn’t like the way it felt on my tongue. I smooshed the tuna with my fork because it was fun, but I didn’t eat another bite of it. I found it to be one of the grossest things I had ever tried to eat. Ironically enough, I now love raw tuna and fish eggs on my sushi, but at that time it was all a little too new for me to even consider it. I would have been happier with a steak and potatoes - I am just that type of girl.
After the main course came the presentation of a very special award. The Jackson Award was named after a former student who managed to get lost several years back and was left in Hilton Head as the group was going back to Clemson. Every year since then, the award went to whoever screwed up the most during the two week trip together.
Luckily for me, I didn’t earn a nomination for my dozing off since it had gone unnoticed by the professors on our trip. Even "Red Wine” Kelly got off lucky, thanks to a professor who fell in the pond at a fancy dinner while visiting an architect’s mansion. Just as she was stepping up to make her speech, the stone beneath her gave out, and she disappeared down into the koi pond. Fancy dress and all.
However, before we settled in for dessert, a friend of mine named Jessica stood up and asked for our attention. Her speech was slurred and I knew she'd had twice as much wine as I had, in addition to her usual bourbon and water - That’s just how she rolled.
"I have another award that I’d like to mention.” Jessica wobbled a bit, and the guy next to her had to help hold her upright so she could speak to the assembled crowd, "I want to nominate Kristen for the Snoopy Award!”
The crowd mumbled, "The What?”
"The Snoopy Award!” she said loudly in case we didn’t hear her the first time. "Because she can’t stay awake and fell asleep during all of the tours. No matter where we were at, I could look over and see her dozing away!”
I turned toward my dessert, trying to ignore the drunken speech given in my honor. She continued along, oblivious to my discomfort, and told them about every instance that I dozed off during the tours.
Finally when Jessica was satisfied that she had proven my worthiness for such an award, she took her seat and winked at me. We settled in with a few more glasses of wine, and all was going well with the other students teasing me about the "Snoopy”… an award that made absolutely no sense to anyone but Jessica herself.
Just as the dessert menu was being passed around, I heard a strange noise behind me. I turned around to see Jessica fast asleep at the table, snoring away in one of the fanciest restaurants she had likely ever been to. Not even I had done something like that before.
We were so busy laughing, that we almost forgot to eat our dessert. The creme brulee was delicious, though nothing could be as sweet as the moment when I looked over and saw Jessica sleeping in her chair. Needless to say, I nominated Jessica for the Snoopy Award and she won with flying colors.