Wednesday, November 16, 2011

El Cid: A Decade Reunites

This last weekend we trotted back down to Charleston for Mr. F's ten-year reunion.  There are so many things that mystify me about this school.  But it is lovely.

It's amazing to see the cadets (aka students) marching in ranks.  Scary to see them get yelled at.  

It was fun to hear all the stories from yesteryear.  Fun to see pictures from back in the day.  

{Thanks, Mrs. H., for this photo!}

The beach where we stayed was so relaxing.  And it was so fun to meet the people that My Love went to school with.  Every single one of them were so nice, and I could tell they made a motley crew.  The thing about the guys at The Citadel is the torture and discipline of enduring those four years creates a bond of brotherhood I've rarely seen elsewhere.  It really is phenomenal.  Not just fraternity, but the whole process produces a work ethic and commitment to excellence that is really rare these days.  

Now, I have to admit:  when I first walked on campus, and saw all these rules in action about knobs (aka freshman) walking in the gutter of the street because they haven't earned the right to walk on the street, etc. I was a little alarmed and a bit repulsed.  But why?

My college experience was a bit militaristic too, but guised as a religious college.  And I suppose seeing the full-fledged military way of life was like a diorama of how I felt inside all during college.  EXCEPT, The Citadel is what it is.  They make no bones about it.  "We will physically torture you to see how much you can take.  And in the end, you'll have brothers and be a better person for it."  You don't like it?  Ok, get out.

But my college was more psycholocigally bazaar.  All their rules were a maze leading to spiritual superiority.  And if you pigeon-holed a person in charge, they'd deny it.  But that's how it fleshed out:  equating your ability to follow the insipid rules to your spiritual worth.  

Here's an anecdote to illustrate the kind of mindless rule-following I'm talking about:  

One of the rules of the school was women must wear pantyhose every day but Saturday.  This particular day, I was wearing black pantyhose.  The kid sitting next to me in chapel flopped open his messenger bag, and the grabby part of the velcro stuck to my leg.  Before I could say anything, he yanked it back.  Leaving the right leg of my nylons in shreds.  Right afterward, I went to the restroom and threw them away.  I was not going to walk around all day with that tackiness.  I was about 100 yards from my car when this lady professor approached me:
{Think Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter}

Lady Professor:  Excuse me?
Me: Yes?
LP:  Are you aware that you aren't wearing any pantyhose?
Me:  (thinking, what kind of question is that?  explained the whole scenario, and told her I was headed home.)
LP:  I see.  ...You know, it's for times like these that you really should keep an extra pair of pantyhose in your bag.
Me:  That's a great idea.  May I borrow your extra pair for today?
LP:  Oh. um.  hm.  ....

This was at the end of my time there, when I was sick of it.  But there were plenty of times before this that in a very similar situation, a teacher or dean or student with star privileges would berate me and make me feel like I had sinned for the wind blowing up a full skirt or being late for class or cut through the grass to be on time for a class.
Oh, and by the way, I still got punished for not adhering to dress code that day. 
I'm embarrassed just to tell people where I went to college.  I'd never go to a college reunion.  I had no understanding of why my husband would want to.  As soon as I sorted out the difference in my head between the two colleges, I could appreciate El Cid for what it is.  And the man that it made of my husband.  

To end on a happier note, we bought a couple things for Fünf too.  Mr. F. just couldn't help himself. 


  1. Mr. F posted this on a Citadel Facebook page. Very well written. By the way, I live 3 blocks from BJU, have some friends that graduated there. BJU is definitely making some positive improvements, but definitely a good comparison!

    All the best,

    Jason Griffith, Citadel 2000

  2. I love El Cid! My love developed while I was dating my husband, who is a classmate of Mr. F.

    I'm sad we couldn't make the trip down this year for the reunion. I'm hopeful we can make it to the next one.

  3. I would far rather be pulled for wearing civilian clothes off campus at a school that has worth than for not wearing pantyhose at a school that sounds like a load of complete crap. What a lot of hypocritical, scummy religious fakes. I met one of their deans at a conference and he was the most simpering, fake, irritating men I've ever met - yep, that's BJU.

  4. Celebrated my 30th reunion and the bonds grow stronger year after year. I love El Cid!

  5. I'm Citadel Class of '98, and married a BJU grad. She completely understands.

  6. Good article. Never thought of comparing BJU but you make some good points. Enjoyed your article.

    Jim Smith
    Citadel '79

  7. Mrs. F, your husband was my student at The Citadel and shared his good character in class. I'll always remember his saying, "They can take everything from me but my smile, i.e. 'always keep the joy in your heart'. Anywhere you go you'll find a whole range of people and attitudes but it's especially nice when the 'culture' in a place is about enduring all hardships but keeping the joy alive. My best to all of you!


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