Desmond overcame a few obstacles in getting into first year university, but that just a continuation of what he was unaware ongoing and oncoming. Fortunately, he was surrounded by kindly folks who buffered harsh realities he hadn’t noticed nor had he learned. He was ‘playing in the fields of the lord’. He was getting a Life education amidst an academic setting. Although, he was often unaware of female attention his libido was not averse to approach his interests in spite of shyness. Being under the influence of alcohol, of which he was an initiate, his efforts fell short of acquisition and was accepted with humour, by reactions he witnessed the following mornings on those occasions.


The cultural/ethnic diversity of that small university made his goings easy in spite of being across the US border. He had made new friends of First Nations and those of other geographic regions who had more unfortunate experiences.


The world around had a way of being most unkind, and he had chosen to find out, learn of its ways after turning eighteen. He had made a mental note which he had not known was to materialize in ways that challenges Faith as well as surviving. One morning when his mother entered his room announcing it was time to go to church, he went under the covers while responding his refusal to go. Her action was as surprising as his response. She turned about and left, closing the door behind her. He wondered what was in his tone that made her not argue or debate his reply? Laying there, he mused on his decision in keeping with his reasoning for not going into the ministry she had expressed as a desire for him. He felt before leading a congregation he had to know about Life, and It was something he had little to no knowledge considering his earlier life.


Well, he was getting a fine introduction into the goings on of Life from an insular environment, a good thing too. The first of his getting wet was an on-campus sit-in protest. Desmond has been pulled into a scenario to support a very popular professor who being let go just before acquiring tenure. Desmond heard, and agreed with their position, then found himself in a barricaded building where the protest was actuated. The City police was kept off-campus understanding the Campus Security would manage the situation. 


What exacerbated the situation, and was a curiosity to Desmond’s mindset, was that fellow students fell into camps of opposition and support. The campus was divided! It was jocks against liberal arts. The jocks were willing to take up arms, baseball bats ’n clubs, break into the building and bash heads. How this erupted was beyond him, but the occupiers were determined in their belief of support for someone being mistreated, while the jocks saw it simply as a contract negotiation. Both having their perspectives, Desmond thought, but acts of violence was not the Christian Way, this being a former religious college and the major belief of its population. Something for his religious positioning, as he had inadvertently spoken as a learning point.


Fortunately, conservative and intelligent minds prevailed. The jocks were obstructed, a compromise was attained, the sit-in ended and we exited the building no worse for the wear save a mental note of irrationality of those around you considered friendly, who easily and quickly turn into enemies. Luckily, Desmond still had his a cappella gig at the campus cafe, along with the odd social events. One occasion saw him over-indulging in homemade Italian wine drawn directly from barrels in the resident’s basement, and him attempting an amorous engagement with a willing co-ed. 


Alas, too much wine averted coitus and cuddling into slumber resulted. The next da in the campus cafeteria, he received endearing appreciation from onlookers giggling, patting his shoulder and stroking his neck on passing. Mutual affections abounded that year in spite of missed coitus opportunities. The news across the border kept things in perspective, the plus side being the Tiger’s winning the Pennant. As Sinatra once sang, “It was a very good year”.






In the Park




During that auspicious 1st year attempt at higher learning in the University of Windsor, Desmond was to drift through many cultural, social environs and experiences he never knew existed, which began to take shape upon registration.


Having eventually secured adequate residence, his social life ventured into various arenas beginning with co-eds willing to teach him the basics of bridge and chess. He couldn’t get enough of these games playing them every chance he got form during classes he no longer attended, as well as before and after classes he did attend. He took advantage of the newly built sports arena, attempting to make the track and field team for which he was under-prepared. Having spent the previous 5yrs in high school without adequate coaching, going only on raw talent.


Most days he could be found on the track running, then in the sauna ’n olympic-size swimming pool which occupied 3 – 4hrs of those days. Little did he know he was being observed by others, co-eds of various ethnicities taking a liking to him. This was the sixties, the onset of the flower-power movement and open-sexuality. He was to experience adventures for which he was unprepared, not to mention did not recognize or realize had a bearing on his ethnicity. There was also that incident of his accidental entry into the swimming pool with his bathing suit on his shoulder!


He did have his eye on one he had no chance of being with, except taking advantage of the Valentine’s Day Kiss offered. He made certain to get a kiss from his secret-crush, yet missed out on one who wanted him which he realized only after passing by her, and was too shy to return to make amends for the slight. There were many such oversights of which that Valentine tradition was one.


Desmond had unexpected, intimate encounters biased by fantasies watching Hollywood Movies. He entered into each encounter feeling he’d met a life-partner only to experience confusion and clumsiness, both feeling uncomfortable in not knowing what was to follow. Nothing! Each encounter was never repeated and neither party crossed paths again. Upon discovering the coffee shop, he expressed his longings in song which the audience felt and appreciated in reference to their own longings.


On one occasion he took it upon himself to venture into the on-campus pub. There he proceeded to drown his sorrows in gin ’n tonic. How many he consumed is still a mystery; suffice to say, he was unstable as well as unsteady. Solo, he proceeded to the bathroom and proceeded with a process most unexpected. He threw up and defecated in turn, and was unable to exit the stall. So, there he sat leaning against the side of the stall and fell asleep.


He was awaken by a recognizable voice, a source who also recognized him by the tennis shoes he was noted for wearing. “Desmond, is that you?” Desmond replied in the affirmative and was told to open the cubicle door so they could retrieve him. This they did, and he washed his face while they allowed him to adjust, adopting his surroundings. They agreed fresh air was paramount and decided a stroll down by the river was in order. Along the way, Desmond fell into despair and began bawling uncontrollably. His associated told his partner to let him be, because he’d been there and the cry was what was required at that time.


Emotionally spent from the crying time, Desmond was accompanied to his dwelling. He bid his rescuers a good night/morning. They departed, and he went in downstairs, and slept into the day energizing for upcoming experiences. One of which had implications he was not to realize until decades later!









Desmond, having survived his truculent childhood, emigrated to Canada of the early 60s to reunite with his mother and other matriarchal relations. He made it through turbulent adolescent years and transitioning into adulthood arrived in university inadequately prepared, but open to whatever laid ahead.


He acquired suitable lodging with the aid of a classmate, discovered he was in the wrong program to study and obligated to a Student Loan Program, he thought. Working through the panic which assailed him he elected to stay in the program he believed to be a life-sentence, not knowing options available. His year began by attending classes he felt manageable, two being Religious Studies and Drama.


He made friends easily, it being a small university recently being renamed from its previous nomenclature of Assumption College. A few of his new mates were from Toronto, others from Quebec, Kirkland Lake, Chatham-Aylmer and the other surrounding areas of Windsor, Ontario and his first Nigerian. It was during this time he took to learning two new games which were to be mainstays going forward. These games were Bridge and Chess, and learning to play them kept his mind from his calamitous situation.


Being shy he had haphazard forays into sexual intimacy that he’d not considered because of his religious upbringing. He had been influenced throughout early childhood by the institutions of Anglicanism, Baptist, Catholicism, Church of God Saints of Christ, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, being christened a Protestant in the Presbyterian sect. His immortal soul required saving, and the matriarchs saw to it there were ample opportunities for that to occur. His propensity for art and interest in aviation, it was suggested he consider being a flying missionary.


Long before attending university, had had been a member of his high school’s religious club and was seen to cruise through 60s Yorkville Village with a bible under his arm. Of course, this was not visible in his demeanour save giving him a calm facade that co-eds may have found attractive, because the opportunities abounded and he missed more than he was able to allow himself to experience. One of his school mates was a fellow football player who made it onto the varsity team, while he chose track and field. His choice was based on the belief his size made him unsuitable. As it turned out he may have saved himself from harm, in spite of there being no attention given him by the varsity coach of track and field for the same reason. 


There was one asset he hadn’t counted on which gave him notoriety and calm, which was his ability to carry a tune. This skill he’d discovered during his senior year in high school, with the initiate of a classmate and musical director. He attended a coffee house on campus and was supported to going up sing a song. This he did, ‘a cappella’. To his surprise all his solitary teen angst expressions gave way to applause and call for more. He became a sought after regular with requests because of his crooner song choices.


A highlight of Desmond’s unsuccessful academic year occurred when visiting students from Wayne State University in Detroit heard him sing and requested he visit and perform a set in their campus coffee house. He agreed, they came and picked him up and took him across to their campus. With the exception of a Custom’s Officer making an issue to make certain he wasn’t a draft dodger attempting to sneak back int the country, the evening went well and he was returned unscathed to his residence on campus.


The year came to a close with only the aforementioned events giving him time to sort his emotional and mental state going forward. What was ahead was beyond the scope of his imagining, except he was preparing to tackle having acquired a debt, being unemployed and having failed at his attempt at higher education. He was venturing into a domain no one had done, being the first born in a foreign land and under-prepared. There was yet another twist of fate welcoming him. He was to reside in a different dwelling than he had the prior year, reasons for which he was to learn upon arrival.








He arrived on campus only to realize he had not been properly prepared for what was required, the basics of where to live. It was not to be as straight forward as his life had been, going from place to place accepted with cordiality. He found himself with no concept of campus and off-campus lodging, but being a quick study he ventured to call around, make appointments and go from there; easy, peasy. 


Well, not so as his first call was first met with acceptance, but upon arrival was declined with the words, “It’s been taken” after a fifteen-minute bus ride. He had not taken into account his ethnicity, and that there was an issue of civil rights in Windsor of the 60s. He was in need of lodging, ant there was another option from an earlier call made. This call required an hour’s bus ride, but resulted in having an off-campus lodging in the home of a pleasant woman of similar ethnicity. She reminded him of his patriarchal grandmother, their interaction being fluid and congenial.


He would have felt well situated if not for the lengthy bus ride and the disconnected feeling from campus life. For this, Life was to present a timely resolution.


During a biology lab session his conversation broached the housing topic with his lab-partner. It so happened he recently lost his room-mate to an opportunity for on-campus housing and he was in need of a room-mate to share his basement apartment. Their needs, his discontent and disconnect, and his lab-partner room-mate loss and financial need had a solution in sight. It was proposed he take a look at the space to decide if it was suitable. This felt a most fated, synchronistic occurrence which must not be ignored.


They went to the abode, a quaint finished basement apartment and a 5minute stroll from the main campus. He was given a tour of the space, and they agreed on terms which halved the lodging costs and saved an hour’s bus ride to and from campus. They discovered in no short order, the landlady had something to say about this. Upon emerging through the basement apartment entrance, she appeared and inquired as to this stranger’s presence. 


He informed her of the situation and that he wanted him as his room-mate for the rest of the school year. There was a pregnant pause, then she replied, “If you don’t mind him living with you, I guess it’s alright.” To these words, caused us to automatically look at one another. There was the dawning of the unconsidered thing. They were a salt and pepper pair, long before the ‘I spy’ TV Series. They had not considered their pairing would have had any consequence. They moved on with her assent and agreed on moving in arrangements.


This move did have a down side, having to disappoint the kindly lady who had given him a place to stay when he was in need. That evening they agreed to his decision’s merits in spite of the financial loss to her. A bitter sweet farewell, and he relocated to his new abode with a likeable room-mate, 5minutes stroll from campus; and, trusting his previous land-lands would find a suitable student.


Curiously, after a short time of living in that basement apartment, his mother paid him a visit. During the early days of his stay he had never noticed the landlady, because his room-mate, Gary took care of paying her the rent. Upon his mother’s arrival the landlady appeared and he introduced her to his mother. To my surprise she invited them upstairs onto the main floor for tea and sandwiches. A confluence of her experiences with him as an amiable tenant contradicting what mass media previously caused her to believe?


Their social intercourse was cordial, his mother’s visit mutually relaxing, with the school year set to make unusual impressions upon his psyche in the coming months.






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