Monday, February 12, 2007

Southern Circuit tour day eight - Karl Staven

Southern Circuit tour day eight. South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC is a traditionally black school with a healthy tradition and many varied majors. Ellen drives me over to show off the school's planetarium/art gallery that she heads. It is undergoing renovations and due to open in two weeks after being closed for a couple of years. The smell of fresh paint and floor sealer roll out of the front door when she opens it. We then head over to the auditorium to set up for my next to last presentation. Mark shows me the projector and sound system and I am taken aback by the size of the single speaker. In an auditorium that seats several hundred people, he points to a small horseshoe shaped object about 8 inches wide and two inches tall that is the 'sound system'. To allay my fears he cranks it up and I’m amazed at how much undistorted sound it pumps out.

We end up with around 40 folks in the audience and as I talk to the students informally ahead of time I am reminded of how polite many young southerners are, “yes sir; excuse me sir, thank you sir. “ We start the show, I run though my now set sequence of 13 films, stand up and talk in between each animation, and then it’s over.

Afterwards Ellen, Helen B. and I meet at a restaurant that I'll call Crabappletrees for some dinner. Ellen asks what soups are available and our waiter (a nuclear engineering freshman at SCSU) informs us that they ran out of soup during their recent dinner rush (the rush is evident from all of the dirty dishes left stacked on half of the tables in the restaurant). They both order a Greek chicken salad with feta cheese and black olives and I order some fish with a lime salsa. I attempt to order a beer but apparently you cannot purchase alcohol on a Sunday in South Carolina.

The waiter returns with our food but informs us that the kitchen has run out of feta cheese, black olives, and lime salsa. We marvel at the timeliness of the sharing of this information. We begin to poke at our food and eat it. Ellen asks for some parmesan cheese since the feta was unavailable. Eventually the waiter returns with a small container of shredded chedder. As we finish our meal Ellen finally receives some shavings of parmesean and shortly thereafter the manager arrives apologetically. We inform her of the issues with the meal and she is shocked because she knows that all of the missing ingredients are actually back in the kitchen cooler. She comps our meal and heads back to the kitchen. We hear three shots ring out and the manager comes out five minutes later with a help wanted sign to place in the window. Just kidding about that last line.

Now back at Ellen’s house I finish typing this at 12:45am but will wait until tomorrow to post it since her internet computer is only accessible by walking through her bedroom and she has been asleep for an hour and a half. Thanks so much for your hospitality, conversation, and for organizing the get together last evening. It’s been a pleasure visiting Orangeburg, South Carolina State University, and your house in particular.