Tori spent her first night in a dorm last night. I didn't get much sleep.
Mostly because I was thinking about that Cuban sandwich I had for dinner.
What was wrong with it?
Why didn't I like it?
Was it a bad sandwich?
Could it be that I just don't like Cuban sandwiches?
HOW could I not like Cuban sandwiches?
I tossed and turned and dreamed tremulous dreams of mustard, pork, and pickles.
Today we are joining Tori at school for a convocation, which, as far as I can understand is sort of like a reverse graduation. Rather than booting you out of school, they are welcoming you, and your tuition payments, for as long as you'd like to
Convocations also, it would appear, start in the middle of the night. We had to be at school by 7:30 a.m.
It's as if the school wants every new student to be aware that they are, indeed, Freshmen and will be taking all the early classes that nobody else will sign up for.
The convocation was actually scheduled to start at 9:00, but Tori needed to be in the auditorium by 8:00 and asked us to meet her at 7:30.
"Do you think they might have Cuban sandwiches in the hotel breakfast room today?" I asked Kerri, when she woke up.
"Wha...Whmmph...unffff..." she gurgled, rubbing her eyes.
"I've been thinking about that sandwich..."
"Enough about the sandwich," she growled. "You were talking about it all night. It was a SANDWICH."
"But," I said, "I just want to know if..."
Kerri gave me a look that, after decades of marriage, I was able to translate as, "Please stop talking about Cuban sandwiches now and forever and while you are not talking about Cuban sandwiches, please go down to the lobby and get me a cup of crappy hotel coffee."
Safety first is my motto. So I got Kerri a cup of crappy hotel coffee and we all headed for campus to see Tori get indoctrinated or hazed or whatever they call it these days.
|Leonard was at the door to greet us.|
|Once again, his defensive measures failed and we were able to get to the van.|
Florida, for its many, many drawbacks (hurricanes, snakes, alligators, lunatics, traffic, jellyfish, accident lawyers, crappy hotel coffee, Leonard, etc.) is at least consistent.
Consistently hot and humid.
I actually sweat through my shirt just walking 40 feet to the van.
We arrived on campus, slick with sweat, just as the van's A/C actually started to do some good.
So, clammy and damp, we ventured out to meet Tori.
The campus, despite being infested with iguanas the size of a 6 year old child, is quite lovely.
|Their mascot is a shark. One of the deficits about Florida that I failed to mention in my previous list.|
|Welcome to school! Don't touch ANYTHING. EVER!|
|Tori accidentally grazed her fingers across the N and was whisked off by campus security for some re-education.|
We filed into the arena where The Great Event was scheduled to occur.
|Hey! We get to wait in line!|
|Cool murals and possibly real sharks on the wall.|
|Please read and agree to this giant legal disclaimer of you want to see your kid.|
|Oh, yeah. Here are some more rules for you to follow.|
Tori left us to meet the other inductees and we found some seats in what might graciously be referred to as The Nosebleed Section. By the time we found seats, we were only 60 short minutes from the beginning of the event.
|Where's the hot dog guy?|
When the students finally stared filing in, at 9:00 on the dot, my cup of crappy hotel coffee kicked in and I was, to be delicate, in need of a restroom.
It took 20 minutes to get all the students seated.
While they were filing in, the A/V crew running the cameras was having fun zooming in in students who were texting, napping, indelicately picking their noses, or scratching themselves indiscreetly and putting them up on the huge TV screens for everyone to enjoy.
|Smile! Your booger is on TV!|
|Peoples' reactions to being on the screen were priceless.|
|Did everyone just see me scratching my butt?|
|Yes, we did!|
It was totally worth the price of admission.
"This might be kind of fun," I thought.
And then the speeches began.
And all the while, my coffee was loudly announcing itself to my body. "Hello! I'm here! I don't want to be here anymore! Hello? Let me out! Are you there? Can you hear me? I'll TURN UP THE VOLUME!"
The speeches came from many, many people, all of whom had decidedly different levels of public speaking acumen.
The president of the university sounded regrettably like Colonel Sanders from KFC ads. Alex kept leaning over to me and saying things like "This class of 2023, looks finger-lickin' good."
And then I got eyeballs from Kerri when I laughed. Like it was my fault!
The dean of one of the science schools then gave one of the worst, most disjointed, incoherent speeches I have ever heard a sober adult give. Her shambling speech, delivered in an abrasive monotone, made several references to the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty as it pertained to the spectacularly uninteresting fact that both plant AND animal cells have mitochondria!
No, I'm not kidding.
She also made many, many references to the fact that, somehow, she was the Professor of the Year last year. I don't know if there was more to that title like: (Most Boring) Professor of the Year, but if there was, she didn't mention it.
The culmination of the event was each student going up on stage and being draped with a sash. "Keep this until your graduation," they were told, "You will once again wear it then. It will serve as a beginning and an end to your time here at Nova Southeastern. Also, if you lose it, we'll charge you 70 bucks to replace it."
By the time it was over, I was eyeballing empty water bottles that people had graciously left behind as a viable alternative to wetting my pants.*
* No, I didn't. Either one.
After it was over, Tori took us on a tour of the campus. It was made more exciting by the fact that she had lived on campus for fewer than 12 hours and had no idea where anything was. So much of her tour went like this, "This is the... I don't know. Does this look like a library to you guys? Hey! Is that a pool? Wow. I've never seen this parking lot before."
|Hey! A big shark!|
|the one shark in Florida that might not eat you.|
|She's happy to be there!|
It was fun, if not overly informative.
After that, she had the day free. Rather than troubling Tori by making her decide what we should do, I offered a suggestion.
"Let's do take-out for lunch!" I suggested slyly. "That way we can ll get what we..."
"Is this a thinly-veiled attempt to get another Cuban sandwich?" Kerri interrupted.
"What?!?" I gasped. "How could you possibly suggest that... yes. Yes, it is."
We planned out a route for getting lunches that would satisfy everybody. BBQ for Alex and Kerri. Falafel for Tori. And a Cuban sandwich from the restaurant voted Best Cuban Sandwiches in Fort Lauderdale on Yelp for me.
The loop to get to these restaurants and then get back to the hotel was, perhaps, a 15 mile loop. With traffic, it took almost 2 hours. We developed a system that worked brilliantly.
Alex called each place and put in our order when we were a mile or two away. That gave us 10 or 15 minutes to get there, grab the food, and move on. Fortunately, we were treated to the thrilling sights of Fort Lauderdale to keep us entertained.
|This store offers, it would appear, every service known to mankind.|
|Passing side. Suicide. What does that even mean?!?|
The BBQ and the falafel bear no discussion, but the Cuban sandwich?
We are going to discuss this, my friends.
We pulled up to the address of 925 Nuevos Cubanos and were greeted with a ramshackle, garishly pained restaurant plunked in the middle of a torn down city block.
I was immediately in love with this place.
|How could you NOT want to eat here?|
|It smelled like deliciousness.|
We pulled up in front of the restaurant, but there was no parking there. We pulled down the street a bit and turned into a muffler shop. No parking there either.
As we sat there for a moment, wondering where to park, my mouth watering with the thought of a Cuban sandwich, a golf cart skidded to a halt next to us. "You looking for parking for the Cuban place?" the guy driving asked.
I wiped the drool from my mouth and nodded.
"Follow me!" he called, pulling out of the parking lot and zipping down the street.
I don't know about you, but when a stranger on a golf cart tells you to follow him through a sketchy part of town, I do it.
What could possibly go wrong?
He lead us down a quiet side street, pointed to a small parking spot and waited for us. We climbed into his golf cart and he brought us to 925 Nuevos Cubanos, much like Charron ferrying souls across the river Styx.
Except with much, much better food.
|Us, on our ride.|
|This shirtless dude was outside the restaurant chopping coconuts with a machete. I assume he worked there, but I have no proof of that.|
When my sandwich was handed over the counter to me, the brown paper bag already going clear from the grease, I knew that this was going to be the greatest day of my life.
We raced back to the hotel, the glorious mix of aromas in the van almost too much to bear.
I skidded to a stop in the parking lot, we ran past Leonard and settled around a hastily prepared table in the hotel room.
|I tried to take a picture of my sandwich, but my hands were shaking with anticipation.|
|Deep breaths, Marty. You can do it. Behold: The Perfect Cuban Sandwich.|
|Kerri's BBQ? Nahhhhh.|
|Let's get another look at this work of art.|
|Kerri and Tori found this "Please Dance Like This" sign in the hallway on the way to the pool.|
I was asked, on several occasions, during the afternoon to please stop talking about my sandwich and how delicious it was.
Soon, we brought Tori back to school and left her for her second night in the dorms. We were greeted by a young man, who we named Carl, who demanded to see our IDs before we could accompany Tori to her room. Carl seemed like the kind of kid who probably got kicked out of the Boy Scouts for being "a little too intense". It was the wraparound sunglasses he was wearing behind the desk that clued us in.
We feel much safer knowing that he's there to protect Tori from any iguanas who might want to enter the building without ID.
We were allowed inside without being subjected to deep cavity body searches and we said goodnight to Tori.
Tomorrow, she's going to meet us back at the hotel for a crappy hotel breakfast, and then, we are leaving her here.