Player Action at Clemson

Players 1988

Circa 1988, I think

This weekend was the second (I think) Clemson Players reunion. The Players are the theater group at Clemson, which when I was there from 1984-1987 (as a transfer student, not an overachiever who graduated in three years), was a small band of rebels that weren’t necessarily Greeks or engineers or business majors. We were out on the fringe, not fitting in with the larger group of Clemson students and we liked theater. Either that, or we were looking for other people that were also out on the fringe. We used to do plays in Daniel Auditorium, which would was probably a smaller stage than most auditoriums you would find in a good elementary school. We were working with very little. There was no theater major. If you wanted to do theater, you probably majored in the next closest thing they had: English. Or maybe Art. There wasn’t even a music major.

And we were lucky. Before Daniel was built in the late 60s, they did their shows in Newman Auditorium, which wasn’t even a stage. It was a theater-style classroom, with a floor at the bottom and a chalkboard behind it. The smell might be a bit odd, but that was the price you paid for having to hold shows at one of the agriculture buildings where they cured meat. (I’m not kidding.)

Now, of course, Clemson has built a very nice theater program. You have to audition and it’s competitive. They have a nice performing arts building with a real theater and a real stage. They even attract some touring Broadway shows!

Clemson buds

Me and MJ, on campus

At some point, I heard from some Facebook friends that there was another reunion in town. “OK, we’ll see what’s going on this weekend,” I thought. “I’ll probably have to go or Mark will never speak to me again, since I live all of four miles away.” And so I didn’t bother to sign up until the week of, and then because of Mark and because I heard my buddy Merrie Jo was coming in. The last time I saw MJ was, well, 10 years ago when she came out for the last reunion.

MJ showed up at my office on late Friday afternoon and we got ice cream (of course) at the Exchange. Thumbs up on the pumpkin pie flavor, kids! We walked campus, and talked and caught up as though we hadn’t been apart for 10 years. Suddenly, the reception seemed like it might be more fun than I thought. Off to the reception and it was even more fun than I thought. I knew more faces than I thought too and was surprised by some of the faces that returned. And even best of all, I liked these people. They turned out to be such interesting folks, with cool interests and thoughts and lives. Some people I was meeting for the first time, but really enjoyed talking with. Others, I hadn’t seen in 20+ years, but it was so amazing to reconnect with them again.

And that’s when things took a turn for the wacky.

Saturday morning, they gave a tour of Daniel and the Brooks Center. My husband went to see the Petite LeMans, which he loves and missed last year. I took my daughter to her martial arts class and went running on campus. I had a lovely run, picked up her and had planned to get cleaned up and take her to a friend’s house while I attended the luncheon. We got home with 40 minutes to take that shower, drop her off and get to the luncheon … and the garage door wouldn’t open. So we tried opening it from the keypad. Nothing. After 10 frantic minutes and a call to my husband, 2 hours away with the only key to the house, we realized we keep the house locked up pretty tight after all. (The fact he’s got the only key isn’t his fault … he didn’t know.) So, a quick Plan B: we drove to Wal-Mart, bought new clothes, sponged off in the bathroom and changed clothes.

And this is why I love these people: I know I had to still smell, and not very well either. And, while the rest of them were much better dressed and cleaned up, they didn’t care. Mostly, they thought it was funny (which it was and still is) and were very sweet to offer me their showers in their rooms or anything I needed.

The day ended with another reception back at the Martin Inn, watching the football game while socializing. Now when I was at Clemson, I almost never went to the games. Blasphemy, I’m sure, to hear this, especially since I went from 1984-87, otherwise known as the Danny Ford years. To some Clemson fans, this was the heyday of football for us. As someone referred to him last night, he was like Clemson’s Reagan. But now that I work with admissions and been at Clemson as a staff member for more than 16 years, I’m much more interested in it. And there was mild interest in the game, until the last quarter. Then there was rabid interest in it. What a thrill it was to enjoy the game with a bunch of my fellow classmates, cheering as Dabo had orange Gatorade poured on him TWICE.

As fun as the first reception was, the second one was even better. All the “what are you doing, who are you, yadda yadda yadda” that had to happen the first reception was over and now we were all best buddies again, at least for the night. Bill got some dark rum and made something called Dark and Stormies. Good! I had one. (Hey, I had my kid watching TV in a guest room nearby.) Everyone else had a blast with them. It was like that episode of Parks and Recreation where Tom gets everyone to come down to the Snake Pit to tout his new drink Snake Juice and everyone gets totally blitzed out of their mind. Good times, folks. Good times.

See all you Players again in 2013?

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