Thursday, June 8, 2017

he wore khakis and a blue button-down

The student center was strangely quiet.  Usually, the place was bustling with activity as it was the central gathering spot on campus.  It housed the bookstore, clubs met there and/or had booths set up for their various causes, there was a large snack bar and deli, and several tables took up a large space.  It was like a big college campus food court.


The fall semester was coming to a close and a lot of students had already left for winter break.  But there were a few people mingling around including myself.  I guess I was studying or taking a break from studying.  I know I was NOT checking my email or browsing the internet because neither of those things existed at the time.

It was December of 1989.  I was enjoying having another semester completed.  And then...

HE walked in.

I noticed him right away.  Since it was not crowded, anyone walking around was easily noticed.  I just sat there.  I sat there and I watched him.  What would HE do?  What would I do?  What would the others in the place do?  Should I do something??

Since I didn't know what, if anything, I should do, I did nothing.  Just continued to watch him and the others and see if anything happened.  He looked so normal, yet I knew he wasn't.  Still, no one else seemed to notice him at all.

I watched.  This is what took place:
  • He walked down the walkway toward the snack place
  • He walked into the snack place
  • He selected a piece of their heavenly banana nut bread (that I typically could not afford)
  • He took his banana nut bread to the cashier
  • The cashier rang up his purchase
  • He paid 
  • The cashier took the money and made change
  • He left, heading out the way he'd come in, carrying his banana nut bread with him
It was riveting.

Yet none of the others present said or did anything to acknowledge it.  Not even that cashier.


And I was left all, "Hey, that was...", "He was...", "That's the guy that...", "It was him..."
because, it was him

It was Thomas Cech.  He's a professor at CU Boulder where I was attending college (Go BUFFS!).  He's a professor of Chemistry, but more importantly, he had just been awarded the freaking Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

It was in all the papers (back when people read papers), and certainly, it was published all over campus.

But he walked in and out of that student center like he was anyone else.  No one batted an eye.

So I sat there thinking, "Well, at least I know who he is" and that maybe I should've said something in acknowledgement.  As I sat there pondering, another distinguished member of campus walked in.

HE was surrounded by a sort of entourage.  And as he walked through the place, others in there shouted acknowledgements to HIM.  Everyone, it seemed, wanted to be HIS friend.

It was Eric Bieniemy, star running back of the football team.

I found it interesting.  Everyone knew the football star.  No one seemed to know the chemistry star.

Maybe Dr. Cech should've had Ralphie lead his entrances.  Then maybe people would cheer!


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt
1. Share a college memory.


Jimmy said...

I think this is still how it goes, the star athletes always get all the attention while the academic stars stand in the shadows.

Ralphie is cool, I liked the video of him running across the field.

Abby said...

I agree, it's typical.
And everyone loves Ralphie (who is female for various safety reasons). Even during years when the football team sucks, Ralphie is queen!

Morgan Cartwright said...

I love bison so much!! That is awesome that they have an actual one for the mascot at footballs games!
Also, it's awesome that you had a Noble Prize winner right in front of you! Chemistry is my nemesis, so I would have been all over him asking questions. lol

Abby said...

Ralphie's a celebrity and knows it :)
I didn't have Professor Cech as an instructor, but I heard he was pretty humble all things considered. I'm sure he'd have answered your questions!

Linda Hensley said...

The photo of Cech makes him seem like a friendly guy. Maybe he would've shared his banana nut bread if you'd smiled at him?

ShadowRun300 said...

Yep. And I don't think things have changed very much. It's still the athletes (and celebrities) that get all the glory and recognition. But how cool that you (sorta) know the guy who won the Nobel prize for Chemistry!

Abby said...

I know, I totally missed my chance :-\

Abby said...

At least none of the Kardashians went to my school, I don't think...
My silent brush with greatness.

Emily said...

Too bad you couldn't have met him, but I understand star-struck, lol!

Abby said...

I think I was a bit star-struck. In hindsight, I wish I would've said something!

Christy said...

Honestly, I probably wouldn't have known who he was because I'm not very brainy, especially when it comes to Sciences. But if I HAD known, I would have been awed at the thought of watching a Nobel Prize winner buy his banana nut bread while no one else considered the magnitude of the occasion.

Abby said...

The memory of it is still pretty vivid for me. It amused me that he just seemed so normal.

Lori said...

Great story. What an honor it would have been to have met him. I never recognize anybody. I think if I saw a famous movie star, even, I wouldn't know it. Although I might recognize 'ole Ralphie.