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"Some people," Blair said as he dropped his backpack at his feet and sank into the comfort of the couch, "should be strangled a day before they're conceived."
From the kitchen, Jim glanced at him, then reached into the fridge, removed two bottles, twisted the tops off, and handed one borrle to Blair as he, too, sat. Luckily, dinner was at a point where it could safely be left to its own devices for half an hour or so.
"Sounds like one of those days," he said sympathetically.
"Jim, sometimes 'one of those days' would be easy."
Jim waited. He didn't need to ask; Blair would tell him soon enough.
"I don't expect freshmen to know all that much," Blair said. "Yes, a fair number of them are drawn to anthropology because they've read stuff, found it interesting, want to know more... Some come to it because they're jocks and think it's an easy academic option. Usually they get quite a shock when they discover there's no such thing - though some do get genuinely interested - but I can understand where they're at. Some of the girls - not many, thank you, Athena, choose a university 'education' because they're hoping to find a husband with good prospects - in other words, one who's likely to end up rich. Some are just putting off deciding what they want to do with their lives, or are persuaded into it by parental ambition.
"Most of them do try... "
"And a few are very trying?" Jim asked.
"Yeah. Take today... please."
Jim waited, covering his silence by taking another mouthful of beer.
"I decided to illustrate today's lecture with a reference to an 'expedition' I was on as a freshman. It was actually very easy - Expedition 101, aimed more at giving us a taste of what was involved rather than actually teaching us anything new - we hiked from the coach for a couple of hours to get to a dig, camped, spent the next day watching the archaeologists at work, saw what they were finding, hiked back to the coach - then we had to write an essay on what we'd learned.
"Anyway, one guy reacted with absolute horror. Hiked? He gave the impression that he'd take a car from the living room or the bedroom to the bathroom if he could have worked out a way to get one up stairs.
"Sometimes an opportunity just presents itself, so - because pretty well everyone else seemed interested - I got the class onto the subject of transport, and which forms of transport were applicable to different circumstances." Blair paused for a moment as he drank. "Got a fair list of different methods of transport - planes, trains, buses, cars, bikes, cycles, even a few more imaginative ones like rickshaws, sledges, hot air balloons, horses, skateboards, roller blades... eventually someone said ships, though nobody suggested walking, even with my hiking example as an example; they didn't see feet as a 'form of transport'. We did get quite a good discussion going, apart from Gus Howard and two or three of his pals, who seemed to think that anything other then car from door to door was the absolute in poverty-stricken slumming it."
"How would they plan to travel abroad?" Jim asked.
"Private plane. Yes, Gus's father is filthy rich. He cast a total damper on everyone's enthusiasm, muttering things like 'Peasants!' when someone suggested bikes or cycles, or even trains." He chugged down what had to be at least half of the bottle of beer.
"Doesn't he even think of a bike as 'cool'?" Jim asked.
"Apparently not. And kids often want a cycle so they can show off to their pals - not Gus."
"Yeah. Pops was all for appearances, but he was all for having us exercise too. So we went cycling, among other things. For example, he wouldn't have wanted to see me as a professional footballer, though he did want me to do well in the school football team. What about you, Chief?"
"Re sport in general, or re cycling? Not easy when you've travelling around a lot, all over the world. But I did get a cycle when I first went to Rainier. Some of the older students had bikes or even cars, but I was a bit on the young side, and anyway I didn't have the money then for even a cheap car. And I did walk a lot."
"You were probably safer on a cycle. That old Corvair you had... "
"Hey, it was a classic, man!"
"And the Volvo... "
"You bought someone else's problems! You could get a much better one and pay it off on the amount you spend on repairs!"
Blair got up, crossed to the sink, rinsed out the bottle and put it in the recycling box. "Well... It helps the environment. I suppose you could say I'm recycling old cars as well as beer bottles. And it still gets me from A to B."
"Except when it breaks down. And then I get you from A to B."
"Or P to R? Prospect to Rainier?" He ducked the gentle swat Jim aimed at his head, and went to set the table as Jim moved back to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner.