On 9/11/2001, I was sitting in my Latin class when someone came by the classroom and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and there would be a special assembly after the class was over to discuss it. I don’t remember who said it-if they stuck their head in the classroom, I didn’t see them-but I do remember thinking that was a strange reason to break up the day. Wasn’t it likely just an accident? To be honest, I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was at the time.
At the assembly, we heard that 2 planes had hit the WTC, but the principal still didn’t seem sure if it was an accident or not. Later in the day, when we realized it was terrorism, some kids speculated about nuking Afghanistan in a fit of release. The rest of the day, teachers pretty much let us vent in class.
During my sophomore year in college, we did well at one of the early debate tournaments (I was 19 at the time). Most of the team had driven back to Wake Forest at this point, but my partner (also 19), the head coach, and my partner’s girlfriend at the time were staying over at the tournament (my partner and his then-girlfriend, now wife, had just started dating and weren’t out publicly as a couple at the time, but somehow the head coach knew about it). My coach, as a reward for our performance at the tournament, went to his bag in the back of the van and got us a bottle of vodka that was about 2/3s full-he said he had taken a few swigs of it. Of course, for 19 year olds, a whole bottle of vodka to ourselves was a huge treat-we went to the gas station, got orange juice to make screw drivers, and sat happily in the lobby of the hotel drinking the screw drivers out of bottles covered in brown paper bags. Good times.
Another time with the same coach, I was riding back from a tournament, and I made a disparaging comment about someone else in the debate community. He asked angrily “Why would you say something like that?!?” and I sat quietly ashamed of my comment for the rest of the trip.
That coach passed away three years ago this summer. I miss you, Ross.