Robb’s Odyssey Continues: Boola Boola

February 3rd, 2012

Trust me, this picture is relevant.

Following directly on THE SUMMER OF OUR DISCONTENT, we have another title taken from Shakespeare, as Robb’s tale continues to unfold.

Boola Boola

It took me almost a year to hit my stride in college. Most of the kids were from local high schools and came into Valley State with at least some friends in hand but I knew no one and was not an easy mixer.

Freshman orientation would have been weird enough but the puckish powers-that-be gave the occasion an extra little twist. The event was being hosted from a stage by a confident, beautiful freshman and when she gave her name, it was like being hit in the face by a mackerel. Susan Porter!

Susan Porter was an adorable, puffy haired little blonde who I was madly in love with all the way back in kindergarten. It was exactly the Charlie Brown experience. I admired her from afar for at least a year and then made my move. After rejecting hundreds of possible approaches, some time during first grade I decided to make her a doll bed! Now, having described my dad I’m sure you can imagine what his work shop looked like; immaculate, each tool laid out in its precise spot. Utilizing this asset, I made a tiny bed, sanded, finished and painted it and finally, meticulously strung wires across the frame in a diamond pattern.

It took me weeks to get up the courage to present it. When I did, she graciously said ‘thank you’ but having no follow up line, I ran like hell.

Actually the doll bed was my second run at Susan. The first was… you know how in grade school you have to give valentines to the whole class? (At least in the ‘40s we did). Well from me everybody got these little stamped out deals, but for Susan, a huge, padded, hearts and flowers valentine that weighed about a half a pound. Naturally, the whole class took note of it and I was too mortified to follow up on this foray either.


Cut back to the Valley State orientation. I looked with some interest at the slender, confident (now brunette) young lady on the stage, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to run up there and say ‘Hey, remember me? The kid who made you the doll bed?’ I left without talking to anybody.

Although there’s a tiny voice in me that says I did go up to her and I did say that but I just repressed it.

Anyway, I had more important things to think about.

I had to pick a major. Ever since Mr. Withers, the high school counselor, convinced me that I was a nascent lawyer, I got it in my head somehow that meant that in college, one enrolled in a program called ‘pre-law’. So after I had fought my way through the mob at registration and landed at the desk of a class counselor…

Him: ‘Major?’

Me: ‘Pre-law’.

Him: ‘There is no such thing’.

Me: ‘But I’m going to be a lawyer’.

Him: ‘Fine, you just major in whatever you want, and when you graduate, go to law school.”

Now, the actor/ lawyer dispute between me and my dad had never been resolved and he still held out the hope there was a budding Barrymore in the family. When I told him what went on at the Valley State counselor’s office, he saw his chance… and pounced.

He suddenly assumed an air of extreme casualness and reached for the schedule of classes.

‘Well, let’s just see what we have here… ah! Here’s one! SPEECH drama. (Emphasizing the word ‘speech’ followed by a barely audible ‘drama’. SPEECH drama would be excellent preparation for a career in law…

So that’s how it happened. I really didn’t have another idea. Earlier, when Tim asked me to write about the Pleasure Fair I told you that my dad had tricked me into being a drama major but never explained how.

Now you know.

Boy, talk about being set off in a direction. If I had taken say, a business major, (which any sane aspiring lawyer would have) I would probably have joined a fraternity, avoided those artsy types, might never have taken up guitar, surely would never have met the kids that played such a huge part in my life, most significantly, one T. Hallinan.



18 Responses to “Robb’s Odyssey Continues: Boola Boola”

  1. Sharai Says:

    Your father was truly a brilliant man! It is the rare story that tells the tale of a son gently set on his life’s path by a loving father! It’s always fun to visit the places that shaped people we admire. People like you and Tim make it even more so. Especially with lines like, “Although there’s a tiny voice in me . . . . “

  2. EverettK Says:

    Okay, I give up, how does the title relate to Shakespeare. I admit, I’m not particularly a scholar of the Bard, and this one’s right over my head. (Although I did catch Robb’s reference to being Puckish…)

    Ah, young love. All of us sensitive types seem to have gotten our hearts rendered, although I must admit that you were a VERY early bloomer, Robb! First grade indeed.

    Thanks for another enjoyable story!

  3. Suzanna Says:

    Okay, great story, Robb. But also, how about the perfect photos that accompany it? Was that your doing, Mr. H?

    Seriously, I just love your stories, Robb, so please keep them coming!

    Gee, Everett, how could you have ever missed the great Shakespeare comedy, BOOLA BOOLA FOLLIES?

  4. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Good for you, Suzanna. And, of course, the brilliantly offhand reference to the early comedy THE TWO BOOLAS OF VERONA. Sheesh, Everett. Widen your scope.

    And I want to say about this post that it sounds EXACTLY like the Robb I met and liked all those years ago. With the exception that he kept his insecurity well-cloaked, to the point where he frightened the truly insecure, mainly because he was extremely smart and marginally impatient with those who needed both hands to come to a point.

  5. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Wonderful, and you make it come so alive. Love the bed :)Why does it seem that so many of our childhood years feel awkward and we were so uncomfortable. How did it change to when we grabbed life by the horns, and just did it? And you did it so well.

  6. EverettK Says:

    I thought they needed both hands to FIND their …uh… um… point.

  7. robb royer Says:

    Sharai – yes, but we’ll never know if Dad was wise or delusional but when I picked up music, he immediately shifted and became the principal proponent of that. He just didn’t want to see me be a lawyer for some reason.
    Ev – I don’t get it. Who said Shakespeare? I can understand if, by the tile you asked… what does it have but do with Homer? Oh well, you can go with Suz’s or Tim’s answer. Speaking of..

    Suzanna. No those photos were carefully selected by my daughter Jessie and I to represent vaguely remembered realities.

    Tim – whaddya mean? Who’s insecure?

    Lil – thanks, girlfriend. Tim has several more in hand

  8. robb royer Says:

    Oh Tim said Shakespeare. Never mind. He was being fash… facesh… he was farting around.

  9. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Okay, the Shakespeare thing. Robb’s FIRST post in the current series was called THE SUMMER OF OUR DISCONTENT, which is, of course, a lift from “Richard III.” My snarky Shakespeare reference was an obscure slap at the decline in his title sourcing. As many of you no doubt know, “Boola Boola” is the title of the Yale fight song sung at sporting events, which was in turn lifted uncredited (the world being what it is) from a song called “Hoola Boola” written by a popular African-American singer of the 1890s, Billy Johnson. The sharp-eyed among you will also have noted with a knowing smile that Robb’s title is a reference to the popular Disney song “Bibbidy Boppidy Boo,” which includes the unforgettable refrain, “Salagagoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.”

    Robb’s usage of “Boola Boola” is almost certainly unrelated to the 19th-century British mathematician George Boole, the creator of Boolean Logic, usually manifested through Boolean Algebra. Those of you who are inclined to learn more about Boolean Algebra can start here, with the single most impenetrable sentence I’ve read since Finnegan’s Wake, taken verbatim from Wikipedia: “More generally Boolean algebra is the algebra of values from any Boolean algebra as a model of the laws of Boolean algebra.”

    All clear, then?

  10. EverettK Says:

    Well, of course I’d picked up on “The Summer of Our Discontent” as a play (heh-heh) on Shakespeare, and of course I’d learned about the Yale fight song, whilst trying to Google any connection between Dear Bill and “Boola Boola.” What I forgot to remember was Dear Tim’s tendency to snarkiness.

    Foolish me…

    But Boolean Algebra? I’m a programmer, no problema!

  11. Suzanna Says:

    Boolean algebra as defined by Wikipedia reminds me of the work of Soren Kierkegaard. Sentence after sentence of mind twisting nonsense, nearly drove me mad when I had to read one of his books for a class.

    But at least he knew the effect he had on people.

    “People understand me so little that they do not even understand when I complain of being misunderstood.”
    —Søren Kierkegaard, Journals Feb. 1836

    This quote, by the way taken from, ahem, Wikipedia.

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Everett, if you’re so au courant witb Boolian Algebra, can you please parse that sentence for me? The one from W-pedia?

    Zanna, Kierkegaard drove me insane, too. Absolutely unreadable. I mean, I knew it was in English, but it was like the kind of thing you (I) sometimes read in a dream. It would NOT resolve itself into meaning.

    And some day — not now, but SOME day — I’ll show you the valentines Robb made for me.

  13. EverettK Says:

    Sure, Tim. It’s actually quite simple. Perhaps an example from another field would help:

    Generally, Relativity is the range of relationships possible between any objects which are members of a system in which the objects behave in a relative fashion relative to each other.

    Does that clarify things?

  14. robb royer Says:

    Relativity??? Somehow we got from doll beds to relativity?

  15. Suzanna Says:

    Really, Tim, Robb made you valentines?? I’d love to see them.

    And, I feel so much better knowing that even someone as sharp as you couldn’t find meaning in Kierkegaard’s ramblings.

  16. Gary Says:

    And a happy Venn Diagram to everyone.

    Sheesh, Tim, and you have the hide to accuse me of obscurantism!

  17. EverettK Says:

    Great minds like to wander, Robb. But maybe you’ve not experienced that…?

    Or was that old minds? I forget.

  18. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    This is what I love about this blog — we go from entering college to Shakespeare to Kierkegaard to Boolean Algebra to Venn diagrams so effortlessly, without any of us actually knowing what the others are talking about.

    One of my favorite lines in modern literature is from Randall Jarrell’s brilliant (only) novel Pictures from an Institution when, during “Art Night” at the college where the novel is set, an ensemble files onstage to play the newest piece by the composition teacher, Gottfried Rosenbaum. The piece is written for some godawful combination — I don’t know, harmonica, vacuum cleaner, cello, and bullwhip, or something — and as they begin to make their noise, Rosenbaum smiles beatifically and says, “Vot a bunch.”

    That’s pretty much the way I feel about all of you: Vot a bunch.

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