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I guess this means the panty raid’s off

by Ogi Overman

It’s a bad day for this old hippie. As a proud member of the Greenville branch of the Free Love Generation, I assumed I would always be ahead of the curve, an advocate of radical social change, a trendsetter. Yet, the other day I awoke to the news that I’m a ’60s relic, a fossilized freak, a blast from the past. Totally irrelevant.

I guess I should have seen it coming. When kids are downloading music onto iPods and I’m still listening to Vanilla Fudge LPs, when college students dance at all-night raves and I’m still doing the Philly Dog and Funky Broadway, when the fashion is wearing your ballcap to the side, a la Steppin Fetchit, and I’m wondering what Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale would think, it should’ve occurred to me that perhaps time was passing me by.

But this latest development eclipses all those in terms of relegating me to the scrap heap. As one who tries mightily to be on the cutting edge, of pushing the envelope, of not being easily offended, this one’s hitting me hard. And it came in the form of the innocuous-sounding phrase, ‘“gender-blind housing.’”

Now, here’s how old I am. When I first read the story about Guilford College’s new policy of allowing sophomores and up to share the same dorm, my reaction was, ‘“What’s the big deal?’” Although there was no such thing during my college career (a four-year course of study crammed into seven short years), co-ed dorms had become commonplace by the mid- to late-’70s. How strange that an institution like Guilford that is on the vanguard of enforcing social justice would be so behind times. It was not until the following week, upon reading Doug Clark’s column in the News & Record, did I realize that they were talking about co-ed rooms.

I immediately went into my reverie, drifting back to my youth as a budding philosopher majoring in Rathskellar 101. I recalled that the first demonstration I ever attended was not an anti-war rally nor a civil rights march (although I would soon attend many of both), but a march by a group of women and a handful of guys demanding ‘— get this ‘— that female students be allowed to wear pants to class. I kid you not. In 1968 at East Carolina University, women were required to wear dresses to class.

How utterly quaint that sounds today, but it’s true. Women actually had to take to the streets to petition for the right to wear pants anywhere on campus outside the dorm. You’ve come a long way, baby, from pleated skirts that covered the knee to Daisy Dukes that expose whale-tail thongs.

Personally, I’ll take today’s fashion (hey ‘— I said I’m old, not dead). But I’m still not quite sure where I come down on the issue of cohabitating in the dorm. My first impulse is that I was born 35 years too early. (OK, 40, but who’s counting?) Were I a high school senior whose raging hormones had raging hormones, I’d scheme of ways to talk my folks into sending me to Guilford: Golly, Dad, I can get a first-rate liberal arts education, be among the Quakers of my ancestry, not get lost in the shuffle as I would at a larger institution, enjoy the academic freedom that inspires all intellectual pursuit, and do it all on an idyllically picturesque campus.

And also shack up with the honey of my choice for three years.

At first blush, this is the deal of the century, the best of all worlds, everyman’s fantasy come true.

But then I wonder. Upon further review, I ask myself if living with a girl my sophomore year of college is really all my fertile imagination and loins tell me it ought to be. Wouldn’t sex, even (or especially) to a post-pubescent stud, eventually get mundane and the good intentions of monogamy give way to the thrill of the hunt?

Thinking back, what happens to those God-given rights of every sophomore poli sci major to puke all over himself and sleep in it, to throw skid-marked underwear wherever it falls, to belch loudly and often, to curse polysyllabically without provocation? These are important aspects of the college experience, and I fear that the maturation that would naturally take place by cohabitating with a young woman would be impeded. Our future leaders will have gone through the entire college experience without knowing the joys of subsisting on tins of tuna, of partying all semester and eating a handful of Green and Clears to cram the night before exams, of passing out too early so that the hardcores can draw on your body with lipstick, of lighting farts.

What would become of this younger generation? Geez, they might all end up Republicans.

Ogi can be reached at ogi@yesweekly.com, heard each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on ‘“The Dusty Dunn Show’” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on ‘“Triad Today’” Friday at 6:30 a.m. on ABC45 and Sunday at 10 p.m. on UPN48.

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