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All-American pride at the student union Pub 

Wednesday, Oct 11 2006
I just spent two weeks with my tiny 86-year-old Dutch great aunt in Pasadena. "Omi," Dutch for grandma, is all-American, except for her heavy accent and her tendency to spread Marmite on toast. I was tickled to see that she had taken down a few of the Ronald Reagan and John Wayne pictures that used to cover her refrigerator and replaced them with those of George W. Bush. (Winston Churchill was still up, thankfully.)

We spent our days doing crosswords together, that all-American activity. She is pretty deaf, so I would yell out the clue and then whatever letters I had.

"The only country in Africa with a female head of state!" I'd say a few times, then, "Blank, blank, B, blank, R, blank, blank!"

"Liberia!" she'd croak.

Once my uncle walked in at the wrong time. The question was, "An open-mouthed quintet." I had 'blank, blank, blank, blank, U.' He walked in right when I was thundering, "Blank U, Omi!"

Ah, good times.

When I got back to my neighborhood where people actually lock their doors at all times, I was missing a bit of the ol' Norman Rockwell. Truly there is nowhere in the city that is anything like Pasadena, but I did manage to find a place that is as close to all-American as you can get: the Pub on the S.F. State campus.

First off, let us ponder the idea of a school-sponsored bar. Especially one that lets anyone go up to the counter and order four beers and not be asked for four different IDs. I mean I would have killed for a place like that in high school! And all the kids sitting around looked like they were in high school to me. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Pub is an eatery and beer dialysis center in the heart of S.F. State's Cesar Chavez Student Center. It's next to the Depot, where, like, stuff goes down for groovy college kids who want to catch the on-campus scene. Dig? The Pub is designed with males in mind, methinks, with beer signs and sports crap and Red Bull tables. In fact, inside it was only populated by males, some of whom had beers in one hand, yellow highlighters in the other, books open to the same page for the last two hours. Outside of the Pub there are tables that look out over the student center, and that was where the girls seemed to be.

When we walked by, it was truly an all-American scene. We passed a guy and a girl playing a drinking game. They had big 22 oz-ers in front of them and shit-eating grins. I couldn't quite make out what the game entailed, but it seemed to be a variation on quarters. Another table had two guys talking about the papers they were working on. In the Pub itself folks were watching the playoffs using their backpacks as footstools.

Ahhh, college. I settled in and took in a deep whiff.

I was with an S.F. State professor and two of his students, one of whom, named Zoneil, I was ecstatic to learn had been a finalist for an MTV show. "Tell me everything and don't leave out the details!" I squealed.

MTV always picks mainly all-American types for their programs, but then they throw in a gay, a black guy, and a "wild card" for effect. Zoneil, gentle reader, would've been that wild card, only because he was of East Indian descent and was an encyclopedia of hip-hop knowledge. He got past a few rounds but ultimately, as he put it, he isn't the "Television Type." (The show is about journalism students and the winner gets to write for Rolling Stone.) It turns out he was edged out by a person who can only be described as The Ultimate Wild Card, a Filipina at State who wears a gold grill and has her own face spray painted on the back of her jacket. I told Zoneil not to fret and that truly, he really had Road Rules written all over him anyway. He just needs to persevere.

When we weren't chatting about the big game or how homework sucks (like totally!), I took the opportunity to eavesdrop on the table to our left. There were two white guys, possibly freshmen, drinking beer and sitting as low in their chairs as possible — like how you are supposed to wear your pants as low as possible, they were taking that idea to their whole bodies.

"Dude, she was sooo feeling you!" said the plain-looking one to the one with the oddly shaped head. I'm guessing these weren't B.M.O.C.s (Booty Mavericks Overloaded with Chicks).

"Nawwwww," said the other, like he was a rapper trying to shush the suckas.

"Man, Asian chicks ... ," returned the first guy, and then goddamn it, the A's got a run and I couldn't hear the rest. I was about to give them a "Blank U!" on behalf of Asian chicks, but I couldn't really be sure what he was going to say, so diplomacy prevailed.

From there I returned to entertaining Zoneil with the Indian words I know, which basically comes from a Hindi ABBA record I have. The only thing that would've really capped our all-American college experience would be a big pizza to end the night, but alas, we went to Chevy's instead. Then again, maybe that was really an all-American choice. According to Omi, the whole country is being overrun by immigrants anyway. Soon it will be the United States of Mexico.

Ah, sweet Omi. Blank U. Blank U very much. —Katy St. Clair

About The Author

Katy St. Clair


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