Thinking Forward: Looking Back

I write these words at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. There is a patch of grass nearby where, in 1989, my artist roommate painted on a canvas with his head. That is to say, we strung Scott up by his feet, lowered his head into paint and held on as his paint-soaked hair created a colorful work that sold for a good amount.

The process, Scott told a TV news reporter, let his “ideas fl ow directly onto the canvas,” bypassing those cumbersome fi ngers and opposable thumbs. The process also, we agreed later, successfully attracted the TV news reporter who subscribed to the brain-to-canvas theory.

Scott also drew a comic strip for the campus newspaper starring Flemmo the Squirrel. We worked at The Central Florida Future in a singlewide trailer with drooping floors and boxy Macintosh computers choked with floppy discs.

Newsroom procedures required hacky sack and pranks, the best being a letter on Orlando Sentinel stationary offering me a job. I was over the moon. I even called my mother. Then I called the number on the letter and heard a gruff bouncer answer,

“Booby Trap. May I help you?”

Scott was the culprit. I made him buy me lunch at El Pollo Loco.

That rickety UCF newsroom also is where a colleague bellowed: “Hey, Dave. Your date called. She wants to know if she can bring a date tonight.” And she did. He bought us ice cream.

But in 1989, I was walking to class at UCF and bumped into a former high school classmate from Ocala. “Hi David!” Amy Rowan said. My heart jumped. At Forest High School, she was a Lady Cat Dancer. I played the saxophone in the band, but my primary job was staring at Amy the Lady Cat Dancer.

Amy Rowan was adorable in the 1980s. Amy Rowan Schlenker remains adorable in 2022.

So, yes, UCF means a lot to us.

And in the fall of 2022, there will be another UCF Knight in the family: our youngest daughter, Caroline. On the morning she declared her choice, I grabbed the big UCF fl ag from our yard and waved it in the living room as if I were on the 50- yard line before a bowl game.

It will be a big year for college-age Schlenkers. Our oldest daughter, Katie, graduates from the University of Florida in the spring. Talk about proud. For the record, we have a UF yard flag, too. We bleed black, gold, orange and blue.

So, I sit here writing this column at my beloved alma mater. In a few minutes, I will visit Caroline’s future apartment complex, scratch my gray beard and wonder where the time went.

But first, I am going to order another coff ee, sit by the window and linger a little longer. I’ll think about Flemmo, hacky sack, illegally wading in the reflecting pond and the Great Seminole Bottle Rocket “Incident” (that’s all I can say, per legal counsel).

Good times. Treasured times. Here’s to future memories created by smarter Schlenkers on Florida’s greatest campuses.

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