Show Down at the Morris Center

August 15, 2007    By: Kristen J @ 11:56 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

I set my tray on the table with a clatter and flop back in the chair. I let my 200 pound backpack slide to the floor and my shoulders sing in relief. It had been an exhausting day. Every day is exhausting when you are a college freshman living in the dorms and your only form of transportation is your feet.

I greet a few of my friends seated at the table. Now that I live a thousand miles from home I treasure the friendships I have made with my fellow dorm dwellers. We exchange a few pleasantries and whine about the difficulties of our second semester college courses. We are all too tired after a long day of trying to comprehend our professors to engage in much conversation.

We tuck into our meals with an occasional word or two and I let my gaze wander around the room. A few tables to the right of mine seats a group of students my friends and I refer to as “clubbies”. They’re the kids who own nice cars, nice clothes, and are members of the social clubs that exist on the outskirts of the university.

Most of the other tables seem to be filled with students like me who don’t own cars, go home during the summers to earn money for tuition, and have part-time jobs during the school year. Sure, we have to work hard, but who can complain while you are attending a private university and not living with your parents?

As I finish scanning the room I notice a student sitting by himself to the left of our table on the far side of the room. He has short dark hair and he is built like someone who is used to hard work. The boy is wearing a black t-shirt and jeans that while clean, look like they have seen better days. While most of the students in the cafeteria look as if they are excited children playing house, he looks like a weary but tolerant older brother.

I turn my attention back to my table trying to pick up on the conversation. After a few seconds I realize that the conversation is an old stand-by and I reach down, pull my heavy backpack onto my lap and begin digging in the front pocket for some change. If I have to listen to my friends discuss the controversial nature of the evolution lecture given during biology that day I could at least have some background music.

“Hey, I’m going to put some money in the juke box. Do you guys have any requests?” I ask.

“Well, don’t make it a slow one or I may just fall asleep in my mashed potatoes,” replies my friend Scott.

“Uh, maybe you wouldn’t be so tired if you didn’t stay up all night cramming for your English test,” answered my friend Debbie.

I ignore their chatter, walk over to the juke box and begin scanning the titles. Let’s see, Depeche Mode? Maybe. Bryan Adams? Heck no! Hhhmmm, what was I in the mood for? Then I see it, number 32, Mountain Music by Alabama.

Normally I’m not a big country music fan but this song reminds me of home and happy times. I had become familiar with this song when my older sister had a whirlwind romance with a boy who loved country music. My family soon understood that we all had to learn to love Alabama or slowly go insane. At least until the next boyfriend and her new found obsession with Judas Priest came along.

I drop in my quarter, punch in the selection, and walk back to my table. I resume eating my delicious cafeteria food dinner and tap my foot to the music. It was an uplifting addition to the noise in the cafeteria, or so I thought.

Over to my right I notice one of the “clubby” boys shove his chair backward and walk over to the jukebox. He was of average height and build, with a narrow face, and not a black hair out of place.

I watch as he leans down and wraps his hand around the plug and with a quick jerk yanks it out of the wall. Without even looking in my direction Clubby Boy saunters back to his friends and continues on in his conversation as if nothing had happened.

My eyes narrow as I stare at him not believing the arrogance in this, this lout! How dare he insult me so! I wasn’t going to stand for it. I jump up quickly from my table and stalk over to the jukebox. I grab the plug, slam it back into the socket, and with out looking at the jerk I sit back down at my table. That’ll show him!

I fork a piece of chicken into my mouth and just as Mr. Alabama starts singing about his grandma and grandpa, Clubby Boy viciously rips the cord out of the wall and throws it to the ground.

My friends fall silent as he stomps over to our table with his finger pointing in my direction. His pinched and angry face looks ugly to me while he says with a biting voice, “If I want the jukebox unplugged it will stay unplugged!” All the jaws at my table drop and no one says a word as he marches back to his table.

I sit in shock wondering where to go from here. Suddenly on my left I see the tall, older boy in the black t-shirt stand up, slowly walk to the jukebox, and reach down and push the plug back into the socket. With out looking at me he passes my table and sits back in his seat in the corner.

I look over at Clubby Boy and watch as his lips narrow and his jaw clench. I wait for him to stand up but instead he turns his body away from me as Mr. Alabama sings about his cozy mountain hideaway.

Hah! I won, I feel like shouting over at Clubby Boy. Instead I try to make eye contact with T-shirt Boy to nod my thanks but he is hunched over his meal unwilling to communicate with me.

Slowly I gather up my things feeling like I had learned more in those few minutes in the cafeteria than I did kneeling at the feet of scholars all day.

As I pass by the jukebox I lovingly drop in 4 more quarters and hit number 32 four more times. Walking through the door I turn, give a quick little finger wave to my friends, and head out into the night toward the library.

[Associated Radio Thang Song: Alabama – Mountain Music (Duh!)]


  1. Gee, I don’t remember a juke box when I was there.


    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 16, 2007 @ 5:04 am

  2. That story made me smile.

    Comment by V the K — August 16, 2007 @ 7:10 am

  3. So which guy was Geoff?

    Comment by Susan M — August 16, 2007 @ 8:05 am

  4. It sounds like Clubby boy just wanted to enjoy the silence and it was just a question of time before he did something about it. But unplugging the jukebox???? Shouldn’t have done that! He should have been more flexible.

    At least T-Shirt boy had nothing to fear. He knew that you just can’t get enough of that country song and I’m glad he stepped in. I’m sure if clubby would have tried it again, he would have ended up comatose.

    In the end you just have to realize that people are people. I can understand it must have been difficult, wanting to go and talk to T-shit boy and thank him, but it’s hard to shake the disease in situations like these.

    The whole situation could have probably been avoided if you would have just picked Depeche Mode in the first place…


    Comment by JM — August 16, 2007 @ 8:53 am

  5. Hey this story was based in fact! You know how there are 2 sides at the morris center? This was on the side that they opened and serves snacks and ice cream at night. I think they called it the Cougar Den or something and there was a jukebox on that side.

    I never did see that T-shirt kid again. I’m thinking that maybe he was one of the 3 nephites.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 16, 2007 @ 9:39 am

  6. I really wish I could say that Geoff was the dark and brooding t-shirt boy. Wouldn’t it be great if I could say that after I left the Morris Center he followed me out into the night?

    When I heard footsteps behind me I turned to look and there was Geoff, my T-shirt boy. With 3 long strides he caught up to me, wrapped his arm around my waist, and pulled me roughly against his chest. My lips trembled as he lowered his conquering,full lips to mine. My knees buckled and it was only his bulging arms, slick with sweat that kept me from falling to the ground.

    Reluctantly he lifted his head, rested his cheek against mine and said, “How you doin’?…

    Nah, Geoff was serving his mission in Tennessee and at that very moment he was probably trying to keep the infamous Munroe dog from getting to fresh with him.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 16, 2007 @ 10:00 am

  7. Hehe… Very amusing stuff (as ever) KJ.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 16, 2007 @ 11:38 am

  8. That was a great story Kristen. It’s funny how even the rich preppy kids are still intimidated by someone. I’m glad that t-shirt boy was cool enough to stand up to him for you.

    Comment by Jamie J — August 16, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  9. Take hundreds of post adolescent concerns, add a healthy dose of pre-adulthood insecurities, remove 2/3 cups of reality, and shove it in the oven to bake….

    Serve in the dorm cafeteria at lukewarm temperature.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 17, 2007 @ 7:39 am

  10. Great story!

    You should have at least thanked black t-shirt boy.

    I’m suprised the jukebox resumed the song after it was unplugged.

    Comment by Apollo — August 18, 2007 @ 12:27 pm