Boy meets girl? Sure, that happened when we boomers were young. Boy loses girl? Yep, that too. And that’s the backdrop of self-described Florida beach bum Rhyd Flynn’s novel about the sexual revolution. In this adapted excerpt, his fictional college has its first student protest. Sound familiar?
For the first time since the era of student protest began, my college, Middleton State College, was the flashpoint of a bona-fide student uprising. Classes were cancelled for the day.
Dozens of Highway Patrol cars and National Guard vehicles blocked the streets and entrances to the campus. Cops were strapping on gas masks and guardsmen were arming themselves with assault gear. A voice blared into a tinny-sounding bullhorn, directing the mass of spectators and cars that were beginning to clog the streets because of the blockades. A helicopter thumped overhead and made a couple of low passes over the girls’ dorm. I paused by a National Guard ambulance. A pair of medics was preparing to load an injured Guardsman into it. “What happened to him?” I asked. A strong odor of disinfectant wafted from the Guardsman on the stretcher.
“He was gassed,” one of the medics said excitably. The kid looked barely old enough to shave. “He got through the barricade and into the dorm. But before he could secure the building, they got him. He’s lucky he got out.”
“Who are they?” I imagined a group of half-crazed radicals holding hostages, willing to die for their cause.
“Females Are Responsible Too. The team negotiating with them says they’re some sort of radical women’s group. They’ve taken over the entire dorm. It has something to do with dorm hours. No one can get in or out.”
These guys were tense, very serious, and well indoctrinated. Most of the Guardsmen were about my age or younger and they were carrying weapons with live ammunition.
A megaphone squealed from the second floor of the dorm. “Women have rights too! Collingsworth preaches bullshit! He’s a fascist pig!”
Spectators all around me burst into thunderous cheers and applause. I climbed onto a light standard to see if President Collingsworth was in the crowd.
He was standing less than twenty feet from me, surrounded by cops and demanding that someone get him his own speaker. A cop handed him a police bullhorn. The president cleared his throat. “We will not be intimidated by a bunch of pubescent young women, who…” but before he could finish, a peel of boos and hisses drowned out the rest of his statement.
I strained to get a better look at Collingsworth’s reaction. In that second that I turned my attention away from the dorm to Collingsworth’s twisted face, a black tap shoe shot out of one of the dorm windows and hit me in the back of my head. I went down in an instant. Within seconds the medics I spoke with earlier were at my side, feverishly stemming the flow of blood and waving smelling salts under my nose.
As history recorded it, I became the first civilian casualty of the Middleton rebellion. Luckily I regained consciousness in time to see the other shoe come flying and cut short Collingsworth’s “We will not tolerate this senseless behavior” speech. He got it right in the mouth.