Thinking about what might have been.Byline: Tim McCaffrey
COLUMN:THE BEATEN PATH
It sounded vaguely like someone with a thick southern accent A southern accent, in general, is an accent characteristic of the southern part of any country or region. With reference to the English language, the term usually refers to either of:
I turned around and did a double-take when I saw the tall African-American man smiling at me.
It was Dwayne. Holy cow Holy cow or sacred cow may refer to:
I should explain. I met Dwayne while the two of us were stationed at Keesler Air Foce Base in Biloxi, Miss., in 1989-90. Dwayne, who was from Alabama, was the shy type, but with a great sense of humor Noun 1. sense of humor - the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous; "she didn't appreciate my humor"; "you can't survive in the army without a sense of humor"
sense of humour, humor, humour and an infectious, almost guilty laugh. I was (am) your typical wise-acre and spent my time trying to make him spray soda from his nose.
Living in the dorms on Keesler was fairly uneventful. We trainees went to class, kept our rooms clean and went to bed at 11 p.m. Other than the occasional game of ping pong (1) A half-duplex communications method in which data are transmitted in one direction and acknowledgment is returned at the same speed in the other. The line is alternately switched from transmit to receive in each direction. Contrast with asymmetric modem. or pickup basketball, there wasn't much to do. Dwayne and I would kill the hours sitting around his room, talking about the future and listening to music. Our futures, in the short term anyway, looked to be quite different.
He was in the regular Air Force, so upon his graduation Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the associated ceremony. The date of event is often called degree day. The event itself is also called commencement, convocation or invocation. from Keesler he would be assigned to a base somewhere to begin serving his four-year hitch hitch
to fasten by a knot, usually used to describe tying a horse to a post. . He was hoping for Hawaii (everyone hopes for Hawaii), but had accepted the probability that he would end up in Nebraska, where his Alabama blood would have to adapt to the cold.
I was going home, and I told him all about how I planned to go to the University of Lowell (as it was known then) and become an electrical engineer like two of my brothers. The Air National Guard was going to pay my tuition and life was going to be good (note: I graduated with a business degree).
The theme music for our conversations was generally provided by Dwayne. He introduced me to Public Enemy, Luther Vandross, and the Isley Brothers - all on tape - as the only radio options in Biloxi were 896 country stations and one classic rock station.
When we needed more music, or when we wanted to go to all-night weekend parties at the local motels, we would venture out into Biloxi. This was a little more exciting than it should have been, since the local Racist White Men with Long Hair and Pickup Trucks Association didn't like any of us Air Force boys. The rumor RUMOR. A general public report of certain things, without any certainty as to their truth.
2. In general, rumor cannot be received in evidence, but when the question is whether such rumor existed, and not its truth or falsehood, then evidence of it may be given. on base was that the local men hated us because their women loved us - if only because we represented a potential escape from Biloxi.
The fact that Dwayne was black did not endear en·dear
tr.v. en·deared, en·dear·ing, en·dears
To make beloved or very sympathetic: a couple whose kindness endeared them to friends. us to the locals any more, but luckily he was also 6-foot-2 and had muscles in places where most people didn't have places (to steal a line from the late Ron Luciano). A stern look from Dwayne was usually enough to keep the confrontations verbal rather than physical.
My days in Mississippi came to an end in March 1990. I heard that, after I left, Dwayne and some other Airmen rented a van and drove it to New Orleans New Orleans (ôr`lēənz –lənz, ôrlēnz`), city (2006 pop. 187,525), coextensive with Orleans parish, SE La., between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, 107 mi (172 km) by water from the river mouth; founded , where it was promptly stolen, along with all of their clothes. After that, I didn't hear much from Dwayne. There were a smattering of letters, and I would talk to him on the radio from my National Guard base once in a while, but soon we had lost touch.
Then, more than four years after I had last seen him, Dwayne was standing in the registrar's office at UMass-Lowell, shaking my hand. He had remembered my plans; so when his Air Force hitch ended, he moved up to Massachusetts, joined my Air National Guard unit and enrolled at Lowell ... just like that.
We made plans to get together, and I ran off to class, feeling a bit shocked and thrilled.
But, it didn't work out. I was busy with the social side of school, and Dwayne and I only got together a few times. He was quiet and shy and, no matter how many times I invited him to hang out at my fraternity house, he just never made it over there. He was in a strange place and taking classes that were extremely challenging. Soon, he joined a local religious group. He was excited about the group - they were quite friendly - and tried to talk to me about it.
But, from my days working as a resident advisor For the article on college advisers, see .
Resident Advisor (also known as RA) is an online electronic music magazine dedicated to the global dance music scene. , I knew the group had been classified by the university as a cult.
I was alarmed and tried to warn him away from it - but he wasn't interested in my advice. We stopped talking as much, and the months flew past faster than even one of those Mississippi afternoons. I was busy, he was busy. When the semester se·mes·ter
One of two divisions of 15 to 18 weeks each of an academic year.
[German, from Latin (cursus) s ended, Dwayne dropped out of school, left my National Guard unit, and went home to Alabama without leaving a phone number or address. I have not seen or spoken to him since.
What might have happened if, very early on, I had taken him home to meet my family and to enjoy a dinner; if I had really tried to help him adjust to life in a strange place and to feel at home? What if I had just been less stubborn stubborn Vox populi → medtalk Refractory; unresponsive to therapy about walking over to the dorms instead of insisting that he come to the fraternity house? What if I had been less busy with things that I can't even remember today?
I'll never know. I miss Dwayne sometimes.
Tim McCaffrey is a freelance columnist columnist, the writer of an essay appearing regularly in a newspaper or periodical, usually under a constant heading. Although originally humorous, the column in many cases has supplanted the editorial for authoritative opinions on world problems. who lives in Clinton. He can be reached at email@example.com.