Thursday, August 28, 2014

Father's Day

TigerBlog likes to drive up Route 206 rather than Route 1 to get from 95 to Princeton, even if it takes slightly longer.

It's not as busy. It's way more scenic. And he likes to drive on Nassau Street, to see the people.

He was most of the way to Nassau Street this morning when he saw two men on bicycles go across 206 and then disappear down a path. One of them was John McPhee, the Pultizer Prize-winning writer and Academic Athletic Fellow for the men's lacrosse team. Mr. McPhee has his 17-mile loop around Princeton; TigerBlog isn't sure what part of the trip he was on at that moment, though he was pedaling pretty well as he zipped away.

Once he got to Nassau Street, he saw two thing that were a bit out of the ordinary.

First, a woman walked across the street - not at one of the crosswalks - and almost walked right into a New Jersey Transit bus. She came from behind a truck that was in line waiting to make a right onto Witherspoon Street and didn't look left or right before simply walking across the busy road.

The bus driver did a nice job of seeing her and braking, probably harder than he would have wanted to. When TB drove past the bus, he could see the driver with a smile on his face, looking back at the passengers, with his arms outstretched, as if to say "what in the world was she doing?"

Had the bus hit the woman, TigerBlog would have stayed there and told the police that it was 100% the fault of the woman. Luckily for everyone, that turned out not to be necessary. 

Then, a little further up Nassau, TB found himself behind a Princeton police car at a red light, while in the opposite lane, one car cut another car off as the light turned green. The second car had been in the left turn-only lane and wanted to go straight, so it sped up and cut in front of the other car - right in front of the police car.

TB wasn't sure if the cop was going to get involved or not, and he ended up not. For TB, that one could have gone either way.

It was all part of a typical peaceful Princeton morning. TigerBlog then turned off Nassau and went to the parking lot at Jadwin.

It got him to thinking about the contrast between his office and FatherBlog's. On the one hand, they're separated by about 50 miles or so. On the other, they are different universes.

TigerBlog figures that the distance from where he is sitting to Nassau Street is probably what, a half mile or so? Maybe a little longer?

If he went in a radius of a half-mile from his office, how many people would he run into? A few thousand at most?

FatherBlog's office is in the garment district in New York City. How many people would he run into if he went in a half-mile radius? A quarter of a million maybe?

TigerBlog can only handle New York in small doses. FatherBlog is a New York guy and has been his whole life.

FatherBlog ventured out of his comfort zone yesterday to come down for dinner. This time, he parked in Lot 21 and let TB drive him to the restaurant.

In doing so, he did something that he hasn't done much of in all the years his son has worked at Princeton, and that is come to the campus. TigerBlog can't remember if his father has ever attended a Princeton game here in all that time (he did go to a men's basketball game at Manhattan and a men's lacrosse game at Hofstra).

There is very little overlap between father and son in terms of their worlds. As TB said, his father is a city guy, with interest in city things. The calm and serenity of this campus are a little too slow-paced for him.

It's not a bad thing. It's okay not to have much in common with one's father, and certainly TB isn't going to change him, not as FatherBlog is closing in on 80.

And speaking of closing in on 80, FB still heads to work every day. It's one of three things he loves to do, along with eating and traveling. Still, a year out from 80 and with no signs of ever wanting to stop working, even as he's been doing it about 60 years? That's pretty impressive.

FatherBlog never went to college. He grew up on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Maybe he thought he would never get out of Brooklyn. In fact, it took the U.S. Army to make it happen, and FatherBlog took advantage of being stationed in Europe during the peaceful days between Korea and Vietnam to have his introduction to seeing the world. Since then, there's almost no place he hasn't been: China, Australia, Japan, South America, everywhere in Europe. Maybe next time TB sees his father, he'll ask him to total up the number of countries.

If you're looking for a contrast between father and son, look no further than this: FatherBlog's favorite place is the South of France; TigerBlog loves the Jersey Shore.

FatherBlog called to say he was close to the parking lot, so TB went to keep a eye out for him. By the time he looked out the window, FatherBlog had already stopped three people on his way into Jadwin, two of whom turned out to be head football coach Bob Surace and University Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey.

FatherBlog said that he saw that they were wearing Princeton stuff and asked if they knew his son. Of course, he had no idea who they were and what their roles on this campus are.

Surace's dad was his high school football coach, as well as the high school baseball coach. It's the family business.

TigerBlog has no idea when Bob Surace first watched film of a football game with his dad, but his sense is that it was pretty early. TB also suspects that this is more of a rarity than the norm.

Most people probably went in their own directions from their fathers long ago, like TB did.

For one night, though, Princeton University was the common ground between TB and FB, a city guy visiting his decidedly suburban son.

It was pretty nice.

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